Visit Madrid and Istanbulwithout leaving Tokyo

Sample the culture and cuisine of our Olympic-bid-opponents, right here in the city

Visit Madrid and Istanbul – without leaving Tokyo

In the early hours of September 8, 2013, after a hard-fought campaign, after months of presentations and promotions, the results were finally revealed: Tokyo would be hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It's not Tokyo's first time to the hosting party, of course, but the 2020 Games will mark 56 years since the last time Japan held the honour in 1964. As the city celebrates, it's worth taking a moment to mention our opponents – Tokyo might have been the bookies' favourite as the race came to a close, but each city had its strengths, and the the result could have easily been very different. Indeed, Turkey and Spain's passionate presentations and promotional images got our attention, and piqued the curiosity of more than a few Tokyoites. So let's celebrate the culture and quality of our across-the-pond pals with five places that feature their delicious cuisine, exciting design and fascinating culture, right in the heart of Tokyo.


Turkey: where the cultures of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East meet. Turkish cuisine comprises many delightful dishes and excellent street food, including kiosk-sold kebabs – a dish that's enduringly popular worldwide. Turkey is still to have a chance hosting the Games, but, despite their bid disappointment Prime Minister Erdogen took the time to express his congratulations to Tokyo, and we wish them the best of luck in future bids. A win for Turkey would make history as the first Olympics to be hosted by an Islamic country. Here's where you can get a taste of Turkey in our own fair city.

Kebab Bar

Celebrate the kebab
It's hard to miss this tiny but welcoming little drop-in with it's street-side roasting spit and its nod to Persian upholstery. It was started by an Iranian owner with an eye on the district's international nightlife scene, and the chicken döner's the real pull, marinated in yellow cumin and sniffable from 30 metres. The soft pita bread is also one of the clear bonuses here, meaning that the sandwich doesn't dry too quickly (Full details)

Tokyo Camii

Get a dose of Turkish culture
The largest mosque in Japan is closer than you think – in Yoyogi Uehara, to be exact. At Tokyo Camii (also known as Tokyo Mosque), you'll also find the Turkish Cultural Center, which, as you may have guessed, is a good starting point for an introduction to Islam and Turkish culture. It's generally open to the public, and non-Muslims are welcome to visit. Just be careful not to disturb the people praying in the worship area. (Full details)

Sofa Turkish Decor

Delve into Turkish designs
At this Turkish variety shop in Nishi-Ogikubo, you'll find a unique assortment of items with a mix of Asian and European elements – from traditional Turkish tapestries called kilims to glass lampshades, scarves, and necklaces made of oya (Turkish lace). Pottery decorated with delicate paintings of Turkish designer Nimet Varli are also popular. (Full details)

Anatolia Shibuya

Spend a night on the Istanbul town
This venerable, two-decade-old Turkish restaurant in Shibuya does good, filling lunch sets (including vegetarian options). The dinner courses are rather more substantial, comprising flat breads, dips and flavourful grilled meats, while you can catch belly dance performances on Friday and Saturday nights. (Full details)

Arashi's Coffee & Bar

See your future in Turkish coffee
This cosy bar is a counter-seating affair, serving shisha and coffee with a side of fortune telling. The Iranian owner tells you your future by reading the leftover grounds from your cup of dark-roasted Turkish coffee. This service is available for ¥5,250 per half-hour, but if you're not interested in the mystical services, then the shisha and strong Turkish coffee provide a pretty solid reason to stop by. (Full details)


Former Olympic swimmer Ayako Iwasaki earned her first gold medal at age 14, and who could forget her sensational performance 21 years ago? That was in Barcelona, but this year it was metropolitan Madrid that made a bid to host the Games. Sadly the bid was unsuccessful, meaning 2024 will be Spain's next opportunity to host – and let's hope they get their chance again. Spain's image as a sunny, laid-back, cosmopolitan country makes it an attractive travel destination, but you don't have to leave Japan to get a taste of it. European restaurant and shop owners built plenty of Spanish-inspired establishments during the Showa era, and even now many remain. Here's where to see them.


Bring sunshine to the table
Pass through Granada's entrance hall with its beautifully planted garden, and step into a wide, high-ceilinged space with an atmosphere that'll transport you to sunny southern Europe. The shelves are lined with a wide variety of goods, from mugs and plates for daily use to large banquet platters and jars, all directly imported from Europe. And with tiles starting at ¥300 each, there's plenty to be happy about. (Full details)

La Playa

Eat Spain
A Spanish restaurant in Shibuya Cross Tower, La Playa sets the scene as soon as you step in. Descend the staircase with its wine label-covered walls, until you arrive in the spacious, relaxed dining area that has the feel of a hidden retreat. Dry-cured hams dangle boldly over the counter, and books about Spain are heaped up in messy piles around the restaurant. Try the 'Andalusia Lunch' (¥1,000), which comes with caldoso – a tantalising rice dish made with generous helpings of mussels, shrimp, clams, squid, and the like for a rich seafood flavour. (Full details)


Know Spanish style from Showa era maision
Located in the renovated mansion of Count Nagayoshi Ogasawara, built in 1927, this restaurant serves full course Spanish meals and wine within the fitting confines of the building's Spanish style architecture. You have to make a reservation to get a place in the restaurant, which serves up very fancy European cuisine, but you can drop by the bar and café any time and dabble in the tapas-style snack menu. (Full details)

Vidriog Shibuya

Visit old house in the Spain hill
Spain Hill Street in Shibuya is a fitting spot for a Spanish restaurant, and Vidriog Shibuya is always bustling. The large number of pasta dishes might make choosing a daunting task, but you won't go wrong with the 'Segovia Mushroom' (¥1,000). The meaty texture of the mushrooms, fried in a generous slick of olive oil and garlic, is a triumph – order a baguette to mop up the oily garlicky remains for a gluttonous treat. The seafood paella (¥2,600 for two people), prepared in an iron pan, is also worth a try. (Full details)

Sala Andaluza

Debut as a flamenco dancer
This Spanish restaurant is worth seeking out for its delightful dishes and charming atmosphere. Messages and signatures from visiting Flamenco dancers cover the walls, and there's even a Flamenco shop on the fourth floor. In the evenings you can sample authentic Spanish cuisine while watching live Flamenco, although the paella lunch set is a good deal at ¥850. (Full details)

Time Out Tokyo Editors
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



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