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Credit: Steven Chee and Charlotte Stokes

A single guide could never hope to encompass the sheer enormity of what Tokyo has to offer, so limitless is the city in its offering.

Perhaps that’s why, only a few weeks after showcasing Chanel’s Resort collection, the exhaustive and prolific haute auteur Karl Lagerfeld has chosen the capital as the destination for today’s Métiers d’Art show, a collection that traverses the boundaries between couture and ready-to-wear.

For the uninitiated, the house’s Métiers d’Art show is staged each year with the intention of paying tribute to the petite mains, artisans and craftspeople whose finesse and unparalleled skill is unique to the rarefied art of haute couture and the Métiers d’art of Chanel, including the embroiderer Lesage, the feathers and flowers maker Lemarié, the pleater Lognon, the shoe maker Massaro and the hat maker Maison Michel. Not unlike the increasingly itinerant Cruise collections, the Métiers d’Art shows take place outside of the traditional fashion calendar in a different city each year. Last year, the show was held was staged at Rome’s Cinecittà film complex; prior to that, Salzburg, Dallas, Edinburgh, New York and Mumbai have all played host to the label’s international contingent.

I digress. Herewith, is an indication of how an easily managed and equally stylish day might be spent in the city between shows.

(Re)fuel: About Life Coffee Brewers
Should you manage to navigate your way through the perilously crowded streets of Shibuya, pictured above, you might find yourself in need of a shot at About Life. This whole in the wall espresso bar in Dogenzaka sources its beans from roasters all over Tokyo, including other bastions of the city’s artisan coffee scene, like Switch Coffee in Meguro and Onibus in Jiyugaoka, whose own outlets are well worth a visit for those in need of caffeination throughout the day.

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Credit: Courtesy of About Life

Visit: The National Art Centre
One of the largest exhibition halls in Asia, the National Art Centre’s curvilinear steel and glass façade is almost as impressive as the world-class exhibitions it houses within, including the most recent Yayaoi Kusama retrospective, which closed only last week. Located in Roppongi, a notoriously rowdy nightlife district after night falls, the centre is also (a not inconsiderable) walking distance from the luxury shopping precinct of Aoyama. Here, flagship stores Herzog & de Meuron’s designs for Prada and Miu Miu have become the sites of architectural pilgrimage in their own right, alongside the offerings for what feels like every luxury brand that ever drew breath from near (Commes des Garçons) and afar (Ugg) alike.

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Credit: Shot on iPhone

Snack: Udo
It’s as fair an assessment as any to say that Tokyo’s reputation as an epicurean destination more than precedes it. Salad, fresh fruit and vegetables, however, are not recurring features on the menus at many (if not most) establishments. Perhaps it was a symptom of withdrawals or early onset vitamin deficiency, but on a recent visit Udo satisfied where a great deal many casual eateries fell ever so slightly shorts.

The food itself is impossibly fresh: a simple green salad tossed through with magnificent strawberries, violets and piquant parmesan provides welcome respite from unctuous broths and fried karage. Pillow soft dumplings and the daily sashimi offering are as soft and delicious as you’ll likely find anywhere; service too is is extremely affable, and at-bar dining adjacent a pocket-sized kitchen makes for an entertaining show with lunch or dinner. A selection of both Japanese and international wines made with minimal intervention (including some fantastic Australian natural wines) round out a thoroughly satisfying, if unexpected, dining experience.

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Credit: Shot on iPhone

Browse: Kari Mansion
The tree-lined streets of the largely suburban precinct sandwiched between Shibuya and Omotesando, a popular shopping district, seem as though they’ve been expressly designed for an afternoon spent strolling in and out of the area’s many cafés, bars, interiors, design and clothing stores. At Kari Mansion, an out of the way side street in a nondescript building, much of what makes the area so charming can be experienced in one fell swoop.

On the ground floor, Tumbler and Flowers, an ikebana studio, espouses the art and virtues of Japanese floral arrangement through lessons and a verdant flower shop. Enter an adjoining door and you’ll step into the ground floor of Graphpaper, a boutique where exquisite voluminous clothes, accessories and objet are enclosed in the walls and accessed by means of draws disguised as blank white or black canvases. Their offering extends upstairs to a second floor, which is where you’ll also find Utrecht – a bookshop, publishing house and small gallery space bathed in natural light. With all the charm that independent press invariably entails, Utrecht specialises in art books by young, up-and-coming and established artists alike, stocking esoteric ‘zines on topics like the preponderance of food in auteur cinema alongside career monographs from artists like Elizabeth Peyton, Miranda July and Keith Haring.

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Credit: Shot on iPhone

Nightcap: Bar Trench
Unlike many of the city’s internationally acclaimed drinking establishments, Bar Trench only winks at the kind of Old World practices that bars like Star Bar in Ginza are steeped in (the kind of bar where, while the ice is technically perfect, standing up is actively discouraged).

A short walk from the train station in the vibrant Ebisu neighbourhood (nearby Daikanyama is also well worth exploring at length), Bar Trench mixes old school charm with contemporary mixology to produce spectacular results. The Transcontinental Aviation, a 1920s vintage cocktail prepared with four different types of gin from four different continents, is perfect for sharing at the bar while you watch the dapper staff create an immersive drinking experience with polish and panache. The Jet Black Bird (blended whiskey, Monkey47 sloe gin, fresh lemon, honey and charcoal powder), for example, comes served in a birdcage, replete with a wooden bird whistle from the staff and, inevitably, applause (and another round).

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Credit: Shot on iPhone

Tile and cover image: Steven Chee and Charlotte Stokes

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