Backstreet style and old-world charm: What makes Tokyo so special?

By Euronews
Backstreet style and old-world charm: What makes Tokyo so special?
Copyright  euronews

Tokyo has rich and diverse offerings for locals and visitors alike. From second-hand shopping boutiques to laid-back roof-top gardens and quaint, traditional restaurants - Japan's capital has plenty to offer. 

Euronews spoke to some of those who live and work in the city, to find out what makes Tokyo so special to them.

A hub of sub-cultures and style

Misha Janette is a creative director, former fashion stylist, journalist and blogger. She told Euronews why she loves living and working in Tokyo.

“In Tokyo, you are free to be whatever you want to be, wherever you want to be. So, that’s why you get all these interesting sub-cultures all around.

Misha Janette, Creative DirectorEuronews

“I would say that one of the neighbourhoods that define my career and also the fashion scene in Japan is Harajuku, specifically a place called Ura-Harajuku. It means the back streets of Harajuku. There’s a specific street and it’s called Cat Street. That’s where people walk from Harajuku down to Shibuya, kind of shopping, but also parading their outfits a bit.

In Tokyo, you are free to be whatever you want to be
Misha Janette
Creative Director

“One of my favourite used clothing stores to visit these days is BED, in a neighbourhood called Shimokitazawa. The owner, Miki, she has the best style, [a] really amazing eye for style. And so, if you come in here, you’re always going to find something really unique and cool to pick up.

Misha Janette at BED store, TokyoEuronews

“I really love riding electric bikes. It shows me all of these areas of quiet chaos that I would never have seen if I had just been taking the train and getting off at the same stations all the time."

The recently renovated Miyashita Park is a fresh feature of the city's ever-evolving landscape. It's equipped with a rooftop park and sports facilities, including a beach volleyball court.

“Another fairly recent, new addition to Tokyo is one of my favourite places to go hang out and that’s called Miyashita Park. Miyashita Park is a shopping complex. It has a roof garden. And the roof garden is the best place to go if you want to just hang out on some grass and benches and people watch,” Misha revealed.

“I would invite people to come to Tokyo, who’ve never been here because it’s not as scary as it seems. I promise you’ll find something you love!”

A mix of old and new

Alan Poul is a television and film producer and director for whom Tokyo has become home for the duration of filming for HBO Max's second series of Tokyo Vice. 

“When you’re looking at Tokyo, it can be overwhelming, the amount of sensory stimulation, the light, the sound, the numbers of people everywhere. But the truth is, only by looking closely at the details, will you discover the most extraordinary things about this city.

Alan Poul, television and film producer and directorEuronews

“We made a commitment early on that this show is Tokyo Vice. Tokyo is the star and we were going to shoot every frame in and around Tokyo.

“The neighbourhood we chose, for where our character Jake (Ansel Elgort) lives, is a neighbourhood called Akabane. You can feel it’s a neighbourhood where everybody knows everybody. You can see life lived as it has been in neighbourhoods in Tokyo for generations and generations.

Only by looking closely at the details, will you discover the most extraordinary things about this city
Alan Poul
TV and Film Producer and Director

“One of the great charms of Tokyo is the mix of old and new. You turn a corner and you're seeing a temple that’s hundreds of years old and right behind it is a building that’s just going up.

A temple, Tokyo, JapanEuronews

“One of the places I love in Tokyo is an area called Kagurazaka, which is a very old area. And even though now it’s incredibly hip, there are also beautiful little restaurants, [and] the streets are a little narrower. You can really still feel the old-world charm.

Kagurazaka, TokyoEuronews

"It’s great to go off the beaten path because you never know what you will find. This is where you find the hidden treasures.

“Whether you come here to go to a trendy wine bar, where I love to go. Or whether you come here to go to a very expensive, exclusive Japanese-style restaurant. Either way, you feel that you’re having a kind of special and curated experience that has a little bit of a different feel from the rest of big city Tokyo.”