This article takes up the challenge of demonstrating that ‘we’ can learn from Tokyo about the intrinsic importance of in-between realms to a cosmopolitan culture: the urban sanctuaries. It has four sections. The first section encircles a location from where to learn from Tokyo as well as an angle from where to start. This leads into the leading concept of the article: the urban sanctuary. The second section goes back in history to the early modern era and, with point of departure in traveller’s reports, localises an experience of strangeness and familiarity when it comes to a distinct ritual choreography for meeting at eye level. At the centre of the third section is a second generation of Japanese architects who came to maturity after World War II. Here, the work of Arata Isozaki is of specific interest, because it is precisely a formula for the construction of an urban sanctuary that sets up an in-between realm for an international culture that he returns to in work and life: the traditional concept of ‘interval’ or ma’. The final section relates Tokyo as a command centre for the global economy to its urban sanctuaries. It calls for a broadening of the research agenda by addressing a new set of questions concerning a formula for an in-between – a distinct ritual choreography for meeting the stranger with (universal) hospitality.