Chaotic and mesmerizing, Tokyo is the intersection of tradition and innovation. With its dynamic urban intensity and avant-garde flair, Tokyo is the cultural capital of Asia and the culinary capital of the world: a neon megalopolis with transformation hard-wired into its DNA and a voracious appetite for new ideas. A financial center with a thriving art and fashion scene, the city is home to roughly 90,000 dining establishments that cater to the diverse desires of its food-obsessed population. A new generation of chefs has reinvigorated the restaurant industry, absorbing and adapting international influences to create inventive cuisine that remains Japanese in its focus on quality and attention to detail.

Tokyo’s history and landscape have been shaped by radical change and natural disasters that have forced the city to rebuild and reinvent time and time again. The decades after World War II witnessed a period of rapid social and economic development that culminated in the success of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, an event that reestablished Japan’s place in the international community. During this time, architecture and design flourished as novel modes of thought flowed in from abroad and mingled with Japanese aesthetics. By the 1980s, Japan’s GDP rivaled that of many Western countries and stock prices in Tokyo soared, bringing a new affluence and taste for luxury to the capital. The economic bubble burst in the 90s, but despite the era of stagnation that followed, Tokyo remained a vital cultural force, producing some of the world’s most progressive fashion designers and igniting a global craze for Japanese otaku subcultures (manga, anime, and cosplay). Chefs who had trained in Europe advanced the gastronomy scene with modern techniques, and in recent years younger chefs have pushed cuisine further with experimental approaches. Tokyo quickly became the darling of the Michelin guide – which has showered the capital more stars than any other city for nine consecutive years – and has emerged as a top destination for chefs and gastromads in search of the next culinary thrill.

12forward by White Guide lists 12 eateries in each chosen city that represent the very forefront of gastronomy.

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