The STANDARD H Travel pages are our version of city guides presented by our founder, Wesley Smith. These are places he's traveled, enjoyed, and recommends, so they're all vetted and what we refer to as STANDARD H verified. These lists will evolve, so check back often and travel safe!


"I grew up liking Japan, and really only based on the fact my mom lived there from age 10 until 13 as a military brat. Her having lived there only made me want to visit that much more as I grew older. Finally, in 2014, I made it over. My friend Brett had taken a job in Tokyo, I had a few other friends from high school living in Japan, and I even had a Japanese customer from my days working at James Perse in Malibu I'd kept in touch with via Facebook, so I knew I'd be in for a treat. I've always preferred the locals' view on travel as opposed to the touristy version, so I was extremely lucky to already be set up for success."  - Wesley


Bear Pond Espresso

2 Chome-36-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031

I found out about Bear Pond by way of the WSJ magazine article, "Made Better in Japan" back in 2012. When I read about owner Katsu Tanaka's requires his baristas to train for at least a year before they're able to serve espresso, I was immediately on board. I had to try it. The ristretto shot was unlike anything I had ever had before, and even had since. It was there where I learned about artist Curtis Kulig, as well, by way of the "Love Me" sticker that adorns Bear Pond's La Marzocco machine. Only later did I learn that Tanaka lived in NYC throughout the 1990s and then trained at Counter Culture Coffee which happens to be a Durham, NC-based business I'm very familiar with. It never ceases to amaze me how small the world is. 


The SG Club

1 Chome-7-8 Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0041, Japan

Voted as one of the top bars in Tokyo, this cozy spot fills up fast, and the cocktails are inventive. There seemed to be only one bartender, so service isn't quick, so be sure to have some time on your hands, especially if you're looking to have more than one. They open at 5pm so get there around 4:45pm I'd say.


Bar Benfiddich

Japan, 160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−13−7  9F

Sadly, this bar was closed when I was last in Tokyo because the owner/bartender was away on vacation. Literally missed him by 24 hours...but this still makes the Travel section if only for the fact everyone says how great it is. Next trip for me, and make it a priority for you. Details are nearly exclusively listed on the Instagram. 



2 Chome-5-7 Ebisu, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0013, Japan

My new favorite restaurant in Tokyo is this 10-seat Omakase spot. The chef, Hiro, lived in Huntington Beach, CA of all places for a couple of years, so of course we chatted about surfing, let alone his time in the United States in general. His english is great, and his personality rocks...he definitely made dinner one to remember. No spoilers aside from this...just book it.  :)


Porter Omotesando Store

5 Chome-6-8 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan

The flagship of the #menswear era accessories brand, Porter, is such a great shop. They carry every style you can shake a stick at in varying fabrics and pricepoints. Made famous for their ballistic nylon, they've grown into several other makeups of their bags. One thing to note is this location also stocks styles not offered anywhere else.


Tsutaya Books

150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Sarugakucho, 17−5 

Perhaps my favorite bookstore in the world, Tsutaya represents an architecture buff's dream world of reading. It's just as cool on the outside as their assortment is on the inside. Just go; trust me.


Corleone Vintage Watches

Japan, 150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, 25

Located upstairs in a building along a very busy shopping street in Shibuya, Corleone has a wonderful selection of Tudor and Rolex primarily (in that order) though they do have other brands as well. Definitely worth checking out.


Yakatori Toriyama Roppongi

Japan, 106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 4 Chome−4−2 1

Have you ever eaten raw chicken? Neither had I prior to this visit. I was staying across the street during my time in Tokyo, and I was able to meet two high school friends here for dinner. After so many years of not seeing them, it was such a cool experience being able to catch up while eating things I never even thought to try. We sat at the bar to get a bird's eye view of the chef preparing our meal which served as bonus entertainment if even only for me. Order a lot and drink a beer. It's great.


Shinjuku Golden Gai

1 Chome-1-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021, Japan

This series of alleyways are FULL of bars. Literally upstairs and down, you could probably spend an entire weekend here and not sit in the same bar twice. This said, I feel it's a great way to end an evening. Prime time, I think it's just too busy, unless it's a weekday perhaps. We ducked in two different bars, the names escape me (shocker) but the area was super fun - even if there are only two of you in your party, you'll find a sense of community in many of these tiny spaces.


Heisaku Udon

5-462 Hanakoganei, Kodaira Tokyo Prefecture 

My second day in Japan, I took a short subway ride to meet my (above-mentioned customer) friend Mitch. He picked me up from the subway station in his smile-provoking, burgundy G Wagon and immediately took me to eat lunch at an udon noodle house that had been there for nearly 100 years. They have since moved to this location, however, due to the old location not having been up to appropriate building codes for earthquakes. Regardless, the food hasn't changed and it's amazing. The noodles are still handmade without any additives and it's only open for lunch. You can elect to eat their udon served hot or cold. We ate it cold, and if you're like Mitch, hold the onion...


Ofuro no Osama Onsen

3-9-10 Minamicho Hanakoganei, Kodaira Tokyo Prefecture 

An onsen experience is a must if you've never been to Japan. As a volcanically active country, there are thousands of hot springs throughout Japan. However, there are commercial onsens like this one: the largest in metropolitan Tokyo. Keep an open mind and a willingness to subject yourself to some of the hottest environments you may ever be in. I guarantee you'll leave feeling refreshed, just remember to hydrate.



3 Chome-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan

This store is like Bloomingdales on crack. 10 stories of absolutely everything you can ever find. They even have an area where you can test out golf clubs on a Trackman. If you were ever a child visiting FAO Schwarz for the first time in New York City, entering this building is like that as an adult. It's crazy.