DANIELA SPECTOR

Guide to Japan

TOKYO

  • Bills: there are a few locations - make reservations for the one in Ginza so you can go shopping after. Get the pancakes.
  • Bloody Angle: look for the neon bar sign hanging from the fourth floor of what looks like an apartment building. Go to it like a moth to a flame. Except the flame is cocktails and hip hop vinyl.
  • Blue Bottle Coffee Shinagawa Cafe: grab coffee at Shinagawa station before or after you hop on the subway.
  • Harajuku: get cotton candy the size of your head and check out Daiso (basically a dollar store but not trash) to stock up on candy and face masks. Once you’ve passed the main street there are a lot of shops nearby.
  • Kurasushi: go here right after you land because you’re a kitschy American who is easily delighted by a proper conveyor belt sushi restaurants (read: it moves so fast your scared to grab the sushi). Great value for good sushi. You can probably find better but most places need reservations and you’re jetlagged.
  • Murakami @ Bar Zingaro: indulge your inner hypebeast.
  • Passage Coffee: best coffee I had in Japan.
  • Pivoine: clothing shop with solid linen options. 
  • Shibuya Crossing: go here after Bills to walk off the pancakes. Go to the Starbucks overlooking the crossing.
  • Sushi Tatsunari: go here because you’ve wanted omakase in Japan since you watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi in 2011.
  • Tare Katsu Shibuya: a cozy place for katsu.


KYOTO

  • %Arabica Kyoto Higashiyama: go here every morning. Explore the surrounding area ripe with temples and tourists.
  • Forever Modern Art Museum: stumble on this surprisingly insightful retrospective on Yayoi Kusama.
  • Nishiki Market: walk to the fish market for snacks and souvenirs - get fresh uni!!
  • Jam +Sake Bar: surprisingly no jam but surprisingly good sake.
  • Ippudo Ramen: do not get the spiciest option unless you’re cool with obliterating your sense of taste and maybe crying a little. No reservation - just wait in line.
  • Kishin Kitchen: truly amazing traditional Japanese breakfast. A peaceful way to start your day. Ask the staff for local recommendations in the area.
  • Kinkaku-Ji: golden temple.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: walk toward the river, grab a couple of beers and take in the view. Walk along the river toward the town, there’s another %Arabica nearby if you need a pick-me-up.
  • Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine: you will get lost. You will accidentally go on a hike. Go towards the end of the day so you can end your accidental hike with a view of the sunset.
  • Premium Pound: you’ll need reservations but wow oh wow. It’s like Benihana but fancy. Check Kobe Beef off your food checklist.
  • Wife&Husband: quaintest experience in Kyoto - a cafe that has a picnic option. You can order your coffee and snacks to go and rent stools and blankets. They’ll outfit you with a little basket of your food and direct you to a nearby river to sit near.


NAOSHIMA

  • Takamatsu: stay here because you didn’t plan far enough in advance to actually stay on the island of Naoshima.
    • Transportation: take the ferry over from Takamatsu. Rent electric bicycles to explore most of the island and the free shuttle for the rest of the island where bikes aren’t allowed. They have spots to park your bike.
    • Lee Ufan Museum: good intro museum.
  • Chichu Museum: you will be in awe. The entire museum is underground and your led to each installation by the natural light strategically and geometrically seeping in.
  • Benesse House Museum: get tickets online.


TIPS

  • JR Pass: get in advance if you plan to visit several cities to save $$$. The JR is like a futuristic Amtrak. (This is different from the subway.)
  • 7-Eleven: dispel any of your preconceived notions about convenience stories. These have actual options for food.
  • Pocket Wifi: rent (1-2 per persons) at the airport so you can navigate throughout the city.
  • Toilets: super fancy. Some will even greet you. Some will serenade you.

Guide to Paris

FOOD & DRINK

  • Anne Frank Garden and/or The Centre Pompidou: picnic - don’t forget proper utensils and napkins. If you do forget, feel free to bite straight into that log of meat you bought because you probably also forgot to ask them to slice the meat.
  • Aux Prés Cyril Lignac: wow yes. Go as soon as they open at 7:00 pm and ask for a seat at the bar if you don’t have reservations. Get cocktails. Get burgers. Get everything on the menu actually.
  • Candelaria: get the barbacoa tacos and chips for a light bite and break from all of the baguettes you’ve consumed. Ask to sit in the back and enjoy the cocktails.
  • Carbon: just get the starters to avoid a costly dinner. Every dish is made over the fire. Paris at it’s best. 
  • Chambelland: who cares that it’s gluten-free? Bread is dense and amazing.
  • Buvette: quaint. Pass by the Pigalle Basketball court to hit your cliche Instagram photo quota.
  • Fragment Cafe: go here because Telescope, Cafe Kitsune, and Boot Cafe are closed. Toast and homemade granola are a must. Filter coffee is great for jet lag.
  • Glou: a block away from the Picasso Museum. Order wine followed by an espresso for a midday pick me up.
  • Holybelly 5: go early or prepare to wait. If you do wait, bring a book and send someone from your party to get coffees for the wait. 
  • La Buvette: interesting wine. Get the pickled eggs and white beans. It’ll make up for having to deal with Tristan, the aloof American barista who refuses to speak anything but French even though you know he’s from San Fransisco.
  • La Recolte: stop here for picnic provisions because Barthelemy is closed between 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm.
  • Louie Louie: go here because Septime is closed. Be surprised by the pizza. And by everyone in the restaurant ordering an entire pizza as if they are personal pizzas. Also, get the anchovies soaked in vinegar.
  • Loustic: walk here from brunch and stop at all of the cute shops on the way.
  • Miznon: get the cauliflower and thank me later. 
  • Neighbors: get the banana bread with espresso butter to share.
  • Pain De Mie Carre: around the corner from Terres de Cafe - the fluffiest bread you will ever taste. Ingredients include clouds, probably.
  • Terres de Cafe: walk here from Loustic because you stopped at too many cute shops along the way and it closed for the day. Learn about Geisha coffee from caffeinated enthusiasts.


MUSEUMS


TIPS

  • Bonjour/Bonsoir: the cornerstone of politeness in Paris. Begin every conversation with this greeting before apologizing emphatically for being American. (Bonjour - Good Day and Bonsoir - Good Evening)
  • Bees: as urban locations become more ideal for bees (pesticide in the countryside, charities/hotels/restaurants cultivating hives on rooftops, etc.) the more you’ll see them while you’re eating al fresco or picnicking. Prepare your bee puns ahead of time.
  • Space Invader: download the Flash Invaders app to capture the Space Invader artwork tucked into European corners.


References: Actual guides that informed my wanderings.

  • Goop: ignore that NYT article you read and rely on this guide to get you through summer in Paris.
  • Bon Appetit/Eater: if you plan to spend the majority of your time eating.
  • Culture Trip/Travel & Leisure: if you want to hit the classics.
  • Canyon Coffee: if you want to pretend you’re a coffee snob.
  • Paris is Perfect: if you plan on spending more than a few days, then buckle up and dive deep.
  • Young Adventuress: “A Breakdown of the Paris Arrondissements by a Sassy New Yorker.”
  • Ann Street Studios: if you also want to pretend like you escaped your stressful American life for an authentic life in Provenance.
  • Monocle: if you’re serious about planning and are willing to buy actual books.
  • The Glassy: if you want to fulfill every millennial stereotype. 


The original guide here as a PDF doesn’t include some recommendations or links but does include some fun typos!

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