Think Tokyo, think high rise… But look carefully and you find hidden between the neon clad office towers wonderfully quaint neighborhoods with charming small streets and a surprising variety of one-of-kind shops and eateries where products are crafted with great pride, passion and attention for detail. You’ll find specialist stationary, exquisite pottery, soft leather satchels, cool urban bikes, micro brewed beers and contemporary cocktails! And best of all …. this can all be easily enjoyed on foot. blessed with cool climate, wide pavements, polite drivers and friendly people make this a fantastic city to get lost in!
My Tokyo highlights:
- iDrink . Gen Yamamoto in Azabu-Juban . Experimental cocktails in an exclusive 8th seat Japanese tea house setting
- iSurprise . Nezu museum in Omotesando . stunning building lovely garden and beautiful Buddha collection
- iEat . step back in time! The backstreets behind the Shibuya train station are home to traditional izakaya. tiny establishments that seat a max of 4 people and where the proprietor will proudly serve you a perfect draught beer or perfect whiskey and a seasonal selection of snacks prepared for you on the spot
- iSee . Yoyogi Park . stunning landscaping, serene temples and Lolita girls on sundays at the Harajuka entrance
- iShop . large 70’s red brick building opposite Omotesando Hills Complex that houses 4 floors of one-of-a-kind shop from antique collectors to bespoke leather bags
Hip restaurants are setting up shop in Wan Chai and property prices are forcing out the original population. It is the result of a decade long URA led urban renewal frenzy that saw not only the original urban fabric being erased but also a common identity being lost in the streets of Wan Chai to be replaced by the likes of Queen’s cube, Zenith and the soon to be completed Avenue and Hopewell II; all examples of projects that are ill fitted in the urban context, overburden the infrastructure and most importantly have forced out the resident population and local entrepreneurs.
Yes, many of the buildings may be gone but the community spirit is still alive. Pass through Wan Chai on a Thursday night and you’ll witness something extraordinary: local residents, musicians and artists enjoying an outdoor live music concert while sharing food and wine. This is one of the many examples of Blue House initiatives which actively involves the local community and brings residents together. It is not just the Blue House project that is reaching out. Many of the retailers, galleries and bars that have sprung up in the area have made Wan Chai their location of choice because of the authenticity, historic charm and pleasant neighbourhood atmosphere which they are keen to keep.
The government should stop creating the conditions and allowing high rise towers to be built in historic districts. Experience in other Asian cities and around the world show that when the government keeps the unique urban fabric intact, the community will take care of itself.
Download our iDiscover Wan Chai Walk and explore this vibrant district!