Check out our top three recommended food happenings in Tokyo this month.
1-chōme-19-10 Higashiōi, Shinagawa City, Tōkyō-to 140-0011
December 5th – 8th, 11:00-20:00 hrs.
1500 yen per person
A few years ago, I had the chance to attend a series of animated movie exhibitions at ARTnSHELTER and simply loved the place. It was developed by creative people to give others like them a space to relax and produce. Located a few stations away from Shinagawa Station, ARTnSHELTER offers a modern version of a capsule hotel in a very classical Tokyo neighbourhood, an amazing place to meet other artistic and interesting people to share ideas.
This time they bring us the film “Memories of Tsukiji” created by Ruben Fro, Cody Ellingham and SJF, a photogrammetric reconstruction of the once largest fish market in the world: Tsukiji. From pictures, films and any other kind of data preserved from this amazing place, the three directors of the movie recreate the streets and stalls that you could walk around until a year ago. This movie is an effort to keep alive one of the most important landmarks in the hearts of Japanese people.
Tsukiji Market officially opened its doors the 11th of February, 1935, and closed on the 6th of October 2018 after 83 years of business. It took 6 years to build with more than 420,000 people working on the project, and was one of the biggest attractions for travelers in Tokyo. Seeing the tuna auction was a fan favorite, but one could also walk around the alleys where sellers were offering their products by calling out the daily offers.
This was the place to sample the freshest sashimi you could possibly find anywhere. Tsukiji stood fast for a little more than 8 decades surviving earthquakes, fires, economic downturns and government policy shifts. It was not only where fish was being sold, but also where most Japanese seafood delicacies saw the light for the first time.
The movie will be screening for 15 minutes every half-hour with short interludes in between, times during which you can approach the drink / food bar right at the entrance and choose from their wide selection of beverages and delicious food options. And if you don’t feel like going back home right away, you can stay at one of the amazing capsule rooms that the space has to offer.
NAMIKI667 ハイアットセントリック 銀座店
6 Chome-6-7 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061
December 2019-January 2020
Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is preparing for a Neon Christmas this winter with cocktails at the hotel restaurant Namiki667, a “unique local bar and restaurant experience. Featuring a relaxed environment for handcrafted cocktails and a contemporary menu with locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant and bar serve local favorites with a twist for those food and drink-centric travelers. Start your days of exploration here with a daily buffet and delectable locally inspired creations, or end it with a drink or two by the bar”
For this upcoming winter, they created a four-course meal using seasonal ingredients from Hokkaido crab to Aikawa wagyu beef sirloin. The flavours are the perfect combination of traditional Japanese flavours with all the special elements that make a Christmas meal.
You can pair this meal with their exquisite Winter Cocktails created to keep you warm, starting with Hatsuyuki, a perfect mix between ginger vodka, ginger syrup, yuzu liqueur, fresh lime juice and black pepper, described as “Japanese Christmas in a glass.” They also offer Cotton Candi Bellini, a beautifully combined peach liqueur and fruit sorbet under a piece of cotton candy with sparkling wine poured over it, creating a fruit sherbet-like cocktail. You can find this seasonal menu from November 1st, 2019 to January 31st, 2020.
Available only from December 18th-28th, you can also find their season special Stardust Martini, a beverage inspired on the neon falling star decorations on the hotel’s Christmas tree. This bright drink includes lychee with a gin base, a drink will refresh your palate with every sip.
Ōji Jinja Shrine
1 Chome-1-12 Ojihoncho, Kita City, Tokyo 114-0022
Dating back to the Edo Period (1603 and 1868), this celebration is held to attract good fortune and prosperity for the coming year. It is also called “Tori-no-ichi” (Rooster festival). On the ancient Japanese calendar, days and hours were represented by 12 spiritual animals, and in November, you can have up to 3 days of the rooster.
This is held during the month of November at most shrines, but Oji Jinja (Oji Shrine) on the northeast side of Tokyo will be one of the last shrines to be celebrating it. During this festival, you can purchase one kumade or bamboo rake. Each one of them has a bunch of amulets hanging on it, especially “Okame face” (the laughing goddess). But each one is unique from the others, and when you buy one, the stall owner will clap and call the luckiness to come to its new owner.
The word “kumade” has a very interesting meaning: “bear’s paw.” It comes from the phrase “One who posses a big paw has the power to attract (or ‘rake in’) any treasure or good fortune that he or she may desire.” That’s why the shape of the kumade resembles the stretched claws of the bear to bring in good luck for whomever gets one.
And of course, as is the case for every Japanese festival, there will be a lot of street food available. It can range from “takoyaki” (octopus balls) to “yakitori” (grilled chicken skewers) and “yakisoba” (fried noodles). But if you made your way to Oji when the weather is cold, our suggestion for a must-try dish is “oden,” a dashi-based hot pot in which you simmer different ingredients and then eat them separately from the stock.
This winter soul food can be found at Hirasawa Kamaboko, an Akabane-based fish cake specialist shop that more than half a century old and located right next to Oji Station. It is a standing-only eatery that is always full with locals, and on some days, you can try up to 40 different ingredients. Considering how long the shop has been standing, it looks like one of those places you might think twice before going in, but will never forget after leaving.
Starving for fresh seafood after the Memories of Tsukiji exhibition? Discover this foodie area on a 3-hour Food Tour with a local expert!