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See + Do
Mineral Baths, Japan
Japan is famous for its rustic hot springs (onsen), and even Tokyo has its own mineral-rich baths. Azabu-Juban Onsen sits above a natural source whose dark waters are said to be good for all sorts of complaints, including poor circulation and sensitive skin (81-3-3404-2610; 1-5-22 Azabu-juban, Minato-ku; closed Tues). Soak in the old-style tiled baths and then relax with a beer and a plate of edamame soybeans. Alternatively, pay a visit to one of Tokyo's historic sento or public bathhouses. Built in the days when few houses had their own bathroom, their numbers are now sadly dwindling. One of the best is Daikokuyu, which has all the classic sento elements: spotlessly clean showers and baths for soaking (segregated for men and women) and giant murals of Mount Fuji (81-3-3881-3001; 32-6 Sento-kotobukicho, Adachi-ku). The etiquette is simple: Shower before getting into the bath, and once in the water, absolutely no soap, swimsuits, or washing of clothes!
See + Do
Harajuku Neighborhood, Japan
Website: Metro: Harajuku
On weekends, this district of street fashion is crowded with wildly dressed kids who congregate near the entrance to the beautiful Meiji Shrine. Expect goths, cybergeishas, and "Lolitas" in mini-crinis. Rockers—top-to-toe in black and sporting serious hairdos—gather at the entrance to Yoyogi Park and dance for hours on end, even in the searing summer heat. The main drag is Takeshita Dori, a road that slopes down from the park and is lined with a carnival of teenybopper boutiques. If the "cosplay" shops don't appeal, wander up Meiji Dori for the row of stores overseen by the Japanese clothing brand Beams (there are 11 total), which range from a record shop to a high-end accessories space. The backstreets (a.k.a. Urahara) are where the sneaker, T-shirt, and street-fashion stores are found (Addition Adelaide, in particular, is worth a visit for its edgy-but-chic pieces from up-and-coming Japanese designers), as well as Vacant, a tucked-away gallery/performance space/café that opened in mid-2009—order a vegetarian curry and a beer to help you feel grounded after experiencing the Harajuku bedlam.—Updated by Rebecca Willa Davis
See + Do
Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum, Japan
Tel: 81 42 388 3300
This complex is less a museum than a whole day out. Earthquakes, firebombing, and rampant development have left few examples of old architecture in Tokyo, but in 1993 the Tokyo government set aside about 17 acres for this collection of historic buildings, which range from farmhouses and soy sauce shops to private homes and public bathhouses. They were all saved from demolition and relocated to this fascinating outpost of the central Edo-Tokyo museum. Among the highlights: the home of much-admired Modernist architect Kunio Mayekawa.
Tel: 81 3 3337 1352
The food of OkinawaJapan's colorful slice of the tropicsis hypertrendy in Tokyo at the moment, but this lively pub-style spot predates the fad by quite a few years. The decor is an endearing mix of traditional Okinawan crafts and retro-kitsch bric-a-brac; the music follows a similar approach. The kitchen turns out a good sampling of traditional island fare: lots of pork, with the occasional goat dish for variety; interesting tofu and noodle variations; and home-style delicacies such as papaya pickled in miso. (Menus are in Japanese.)
(Located along the shopping street on the north side of the station.)
Tel: 81 3 5534 2525
This spacious venue in Tokyo Bay has room for 3,000 clubbers and offers different musical zones, such as the Arena (the main dance floor), an outdoor pool area, and a chill-out tent. It attracts big-name DJs from Japan and around the world, including Fat Boy Slim and the Japanese star Towa Tei.