Nicholas Coldicott

Correspondent

  • Tokyo, Japan, Asia

Nicholas Coldicott is a correspondent who covers Tokyo for Forbes Travel Guide. A Tokyo resident since 1998, he is the former editor of Eat Magazine and Whisky Magazine Japan. Coldicott also was the editor of three Time Out Tokyo guides, a columnist for The Japan Times, and has written about Japan for Food and Travel, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and many other publications.

  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott is now following Sarah Gleim
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What are the best attractions in Tokyo?

    The Nezu Museum must be one of the city’s most overlooked attractions. It sits quietly behind the flashy dining and shopping streets of Aoyama, and though it’s been there for more than 60 years, it doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

    The museum houses the pre-modern Asian art collected by rail magnate Kaichirou Nezu, including a National Treasure in the form of Ogata Korin’s Irises. Just as notable is the garden, a meandering trail around ponds and tea houses.

    The museum closed from 2006 to 2009 while star architect Kengo Kuma gave it a makeover. His modern Japanese design is yet another reason to put this on your itinerary.

    From there, you could walk to Meiji Jingu, a shrine dedicated to the late Emperor Meiji. Walk under the towering wooden torii gate and down the tree-lined path and you’ll have so much space and quiet that you’ll scarcely believe you’re in Tokyo.

    Then jump back into city life by walking to Shibuya and parking yourself in one of the local izakayas.
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott is now following Kyoto
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott is now following Hayley Bosch
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What are the best neighborhoods in Tokyo?

    The Asakusa district is on every sensible itinerary. It’s home to one of the city’s best shrines, Sensoji, and streets full of restaurants and shops that don’t seem to have noticed the last 50 years pass by.  The nearby Kappabashi street is where you go to buy kitchenware and plastic food samples.

    Ginza is the land of luxury. There’s no address more prestigious, and that’s why you’ll find many of the greatest (read: priciest and/or best) shops, restaurants and bars in Ginza. It’s where you can spend ¥120,000 on a pair of chopsticks, or ten times as much on something sparkly in the shape of Hello Kitty. It’s where restaurants charge ¥30,000 for sushi, and at least one bar has a flag from the Crusades as its decor. The unusually wide sidewalks mean you’ll never trip over people, and on weekends authorities close off the main thoroughfare and lend the area a European vibe.

    Only Aoyama rivals Ginza for fine dining and luxury shopping. The Omotesando boulevard has been colonized by the European luxury labels (and remains mercifully free of most fast food behemoths). But spin off either side of the street and you’ll find far more interesting shops, cafes and restaurants in Harajuku’s backstreets. This is one of the hubs of youth culture, and a great place for people watching.

    You’ll love or hate Shibuya. It’s gaudy, brash and ugly... or fun, unpretentious and colourful, depending on your taste. You’ll find one the capital’s top photo ops - the scramble crossing, and well as most of the city’s top nightclubs and budget restaurants galore. The area also has upmarket aspirations. The new 34-floor Hikarie commercial complex has the kind of fashion stores that deserve to be called boutiques, as well as a theater and, more unusually, members-only powder rooms.

    Roppongi long ago shed its image as a grubby home of strip clubs and pick-up joints. It’s now ten years since the opening of Roppongi Hills. The megacomplex is a mini city, with superb shopping, drinking, dining, a cinema, an art museum, a TV studio, and for those that don’t want to leave, a Hyatt hotel and towers of luxury apartments. Nearby, the expat party playground still exists, but it no longer defines the area.
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What is the best time to visit Tokyo?

    The city looks its best in late March and early April, when the cherry blossom turns parks and sidewalks pink.

    The maple trees make fall a picturesque time to come.

    Avoid July and August. That’s when the humidity becomes unbearable and you won’t enjoy strolling outside.

    It gets cold in the winter, but usually stays above freezing, even at night, in Tokyo. Bring a scarf, buy some Hokkaron stick-on heat pads and you’ll survive.

    If you’re planning to head north for some skiiing or snowboarding, you’ll want to time your visit for the first three months of the year.

    Many businesses, including restaurants, close for a week around New Year and again in Golden Week (April 29-May 5), and many hotels jack their prices up as domestic tourism peaks.
  • On April 28, 2013
  • On April 28, 2013
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott is now following Tokyo
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What is the Tokyo Metro like?

    Tokyo’s a city of superlatives, and the Metro system is no exception. It reportedly deals with more passengers per year than any other city subway. And though there aren’t any stats to support the claim, it must surely be the most punctual system, and its riders the most civil.

    On the very rare occasion that a train is late, you’ll find staff at the exit handing out delay certificates to get you off the hook with your boss, teacher or angry date. These days you can even download electronic versions of the excuse slips to your mobile phones for several days after a delay.

    Ten years ago, the Metro officials decided to make things easier for tourists by numbering the stations. You no longer have to remember the name Gaienmae - you can just look for G-03 (third station on the Ginza line). And you don’t need to worry about figuring out the fare - just buy the cheapest ticket, and then stick it in the yellow Fare Adjustment machine at the destination. Or better still, buy a PASMO or Suica rechargeable IC card. You’ll have to pay 500 yen as a deposit, but you can get that back when you leave town.

    In terms of etiquette, there are just a few rules. Don’t eat on the train, don’t charge into a carriage and compete for a seat, and gents should watch out for the women-only carriages. They only come into effect at peak times on certain lines, but there’s nothing worse than standing in a carriage and gradually realizing why 50 pairs of female eyes are staring sternly at you. Look for signs on the platform and train windows. 
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What are the best restaurants in Tokyo?

    Gastronomes love to argue about whether Nihonryori Ryugin is better than Narisawa, or vice versa. Make your own mind up by visiting both.

    Then perhaps go to the Ginza, where three great gourmet destinations share a tiny basement. Sukiyabashi Jiro is often hailed as Tokyo’s greatest sushi restaurant, Birdland is the capital’s top yakitori spot, and Nodaiwa is a celebrated for its charcoal-grilled wild eels.

    Weekend brunch at the Park Hyatt’s New York Grill is a culinary institution. It includes an appetizer and dessert buffet, and comes with a 52-story-high view of the city.

    You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well in Tokyo. Ramen fans should head to Ivan Ramen or Bassanova for modern twists, or Ramen Jiro for a greasy old-school classic.

    You’ll find a street of atmospheric olde-worlde eateries in Omoide Yokocho, beside Shinjuku Station. The food is simple, unpretentious, and in some cases will challenge your idea of what should be on a plate (pig’s testicles, anyone?), but it’s a great place to get talking to locals.

    You shouldn’t visit Tokyo without trying an izakaya. One of the jolliest is Shirube in Shibuya... it’s tough to find, and booked solid days in advance, but it’s well worth the effort. A decent standby is Shin Hinomoto in Yurakucho. It’s lively and foreigner friendly, though it’s still a good idea to reserve a table.

    Vegetarians should try the multi-course Zen cuisine of Itosho or Sanko-in, or the photogenic veggie sushi of Potagier, where vegetables are crafted to mimic seafood.
  • On April 28, 2013
    Nicholas Coldicott answered the question: Nicholas Coldicott

    What are the best restaurants in Tokyo?

    Gastronomes love to argue about whether Nihonryori Ryugin is better than Narisawa, or vice versa. Make your own mind up by visiting both.

    Then perhaps go to the Ginza, where three great gourmet destinations share a tiny basement. Sukiyabashi Jiro is often hailed as Tokyo’s greatest sushi restaurant, Birdland is the capital’s top yakitori spot, and Nodaiwa is a celebrated for its charcoal-grilled wild eels.

    Weekend brunch at the Park Hyatt’s New York Grill is a culinary institution. It includes and appetizer and dessert buffet, and comes with a 52-story high view of the city.

    You don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well in Tokyo. Ramen fans should head to Ivan Ramen or Bassanova for modern twists, or Ramen Jiro for greasy old-school classics.

    You’ll find a street of atmospheric olde-worlde eateries in Omoide Yokocho, beside Shinjuku Station. The food is simple, unpretentious, and in some cases will challenge your idea of what should be on a plate (pig’s testicles, anyone?), but it’s a great place to get talking to locals.

    You shouldn’t visit Tokyo without trying an izakaya. One of the jolliest is Shirube in Shibuya... it’s tough to find, and booked solid days in advance, but it’s well worth the effort. A decent standby is Shin Hinomoto in Yurakucho. It’s lively and foreigner friendly, though it’s still a good idea to reserve a table.

    Vegetarians should try the multi-course Zen cuisine of Itosho or Sanko-in, or the photogenic veggie sushi of Potagier, where vegetables are crafted to mimic seafood.
  • On April 23, 2013
  • On April 17, 2013
    Sarah Gleim is now following Nicholas Coldicott
  • On April 17, 2013