With the Tokyo, Japan Olympics hopefully around the corner, the world has its eyes on Japan and there is no better time to get to know its capital city of Tokyo. American businessman Christian Carbone has been traveling monthly to Tokyo for several years and knows the city better than most ex-pats. A successful property developer, the 26-year-old has been profiled in various publications for his travels, his fitness routine, and his sense of style. We recently sat down with Christian to pick his brain on his favorite things in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Q: If you had to describe Tokyo with one word, what would it be?
Carbone: Civilized. Tokyo is by far the most civilized city I have been to. The residents care deeply about their city and culture, and it makes for a wonderful experience. Whether you are getting a taxi, eating at a restaurant, or shopping at a store, the level of hospitality and attention to detail is unmatched. A truly first-class experience. The streets are clean and litter-free, the people are exceptionally polite and welcoming, and there is basically no crime. This to me is civilization at its finest.
Q: Where in Tokyo do you reside when you are there?
Carbone: I stay in Akasaka. Akasaka is pretty centrally located, close to the restaurants, bars, and shopping in Roppongi, Omotesando, and Ginza.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant for dinner with a bunch of friends?
Carbone: When I have a big crew, I like to do Gonpachi, which is the restaurant that inspired a scene in Kill Bill. For something fancier, I like to do a Korean barbecue at Ushigoro.
Q: What is your go-to sushi in Tokyo?
Carbone: Matsumoto in Akasaka is exceptional. Chef Matsumoto is a true master of his craft. The fish couldn't be fresher, and the rice is always just right. Sushi Mitsukawa in Roppongi Hills is also top-notch.
Q: How about the best steak?
Carbone: Ukai-tei's Japanese black beef is exceptional. Rib Room at the New Otani also has an exceptional selection of Japanese beef.
Q: Where would I find you have a bowl of ramen?
Carbone: I love Tsukemen style ramen, where the noodles are separate from the broth. Tomo in Akasaka and Afuri in Roppongi are my two favorites
Q: I know from your Instagram that you are a huge foodie. Any other places you love?
Carbone: Aldebaran. They make the literally best burger I have ever had. Each burger is precisely crafted, and they usually sell out like an hour after they open, so make sure to go early. Tokyo also has some of the best Italian food in the world, outside of Italy, in my opinion. Mari e Monti and La Bisboccia are really good.
Q: Favorite bar to get cocktails?
Carbone: Bar Starman. The mixologist, Hoshina-san, uses high-end Japanese fruits to craft some insane drinks that look and taste incredible. Japan as a note grows some of the highest quality fruit in the world. Certain grapes in Japan can sell for north of $20 USD per grape for example. I also love the Rooftop Bar at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills. They have a great selection, and the views are unbeatable.
Q: How about your favorite place to get coffee or drinks in the afternoon?
Carbone: The Lobby Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Roppongi. This has to be my favorite place to get together for a late afternoon meeting, whether with friends or for business. The views are incredible, and the staff is extremely attentive.
Q: I know you are a big shopper, where is the best shipping in Tokyo?
Carbone: Ginza for sure. Ginza is one of the premier shopping destinations in the world. Most luxury brands have a presence here, and the stores are very well-stocked.
Q: How about going for a walk to unwind?
Carbone: Tokyo is a very walkable city. I like to walk along the Imperial Palace moat. Hinokicho Park and Yoyogi Park are also beautiful. For an urban walking experience, I recommend Omotesando Crossing.
Q: Favorite hotel?
Carbone: The New Otani. The staff are amazing, the location is great, and the restaurant selection is unmatched. I am also a big fan of retro styling. The hotel was built in the 1960s as one of the first luxury hotels in Tokyo, and I believe it was even featured in some old Bond movies. I started staying here when I first came to Japan and I liked it so much I decided to become a long term guest.
Q: Favorite spa?
Carbone: The spa at the Ritz Carlton is wonderful.
Q: Best time to visit?
Carbone: I have been to Tokyo during every season of the year. The summer and fall are very hot, and the early spring gets very cold. I would recommend late fall, after September, or late spring, say March or April.
Q: For a quick day trip to get out of the city, where do you go?
Carbone: Hakone is at the top of my list. Hakone is a small town in the mountains, just west of Tokyo. It has some nice boutique resorts with volcanic hot springs on the premises, and a large picturesque lake called Lake Ashi. It is a relaxing place to visit in any season.
Q: What makes Tokyo so unique?
Carbone: Definitely the culture. I alluded to this in my answer to your first question. The Japanese take a great deal of pride in every service they perform, down to the tiniest detail. The result is a society where achievement is celebrated, and quality is demanded. I am a very detail-oriented person, and I appreciate a culture that values these things.
Q: Any final secrets to leave us with?
Carbone: Haneda Airport. Fly into Haneda if you can. It is like 20 minutes by taxi from the city. If you fly into Narita you are in for well over an hour drive to the city.