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Travel

City guide: Tokyo

Say Kon’nichiwa to Tokyo - the capital of Japan, the most populous metropolitan area in the world and home to more Michelin-star restaurants than anywhere else

Shibuya is a trendy part of Tokyo where young people come to meet and have a good time. ~ Rebecca MacKinnon

Other than being the capital of Japan, Tokyo is one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, it consists of 23 central city wards, multiple cities, towns and villages. The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay. Also, within the administrative boundaries of Tokyo Metropolis are two island chains in the Pacific Ocean directly south: the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands.

Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment and places to dine. For culture, there are excellent museums, theatres, historic temples, stunning gardens and parks to explore. Architecture has massively shaped the city with buildings like Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree, which is the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa.

You'll never be bored when visiting this enticing place. 

Shibuya is a trendy part of Tokyo where young people come to meet and have a good time. ~ Rebecca MacKinnon

WHERE TO STAY


Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo 
Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan 

CONCEPT

The Mandarin Oriental is close to the celebrated Bridge of Japan, from which Nihonbashi derives its name. The hotel embodies respect and appreciation for the natural world, while the design is inspired by the theme of “wood and water” — the hotel has been conceived as a large living tree, providing shelter, comfort and a gathering place for the community. Every detail, from the fabric to the furnishing, has been carefully chosen to create the subtle sensation that you are standing in the middle of a forest. 

DETAILS

Occupying the uppermost nine floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, the hotel features 179 luxurious rooms and suites with spectacular view of Tokyo’s skyline, the Skytree and even Mt Fuji. The rooms reflect Japan’s timeless artisanship that blends seamlessly with modern features like high-definition TVs, VoIP phones and wireless connectivity. These spaces can be likened to a forest clearing, where you can relax in comfort and tranquillity. The Mandarin Oriental also features three Michelin-starred restaurants, a spa with the unique “Sakura Ritual” treatment, a gourmet shop and function rooms for everything from banquets to weddings. 

Featuring stunning design and an exquisite menu, the French fine-dining restaurant, Signature, offers breathtaking views to complement the award-winning cuisine. Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Boujéma prepares authentic French dishes, subtly prepared with distinctive contemporary flair. Sunlight bathes the dining room by day, while at night, the glittering city skyline provides the ultimate backdrop.

INFO

Web: mandarinoriental.com
Social: fb.com/MandarinOriental
Phone: +81 3 3270 8800

WHERE TO EAT


Are three stars enough? 
Take your pick from the city’s 227 Michelin-star restaurants

Tokyo is currently the world’s most exciting gastronomic destination, topping Michelin’s list of the most-starred restaurants in the world yet again. At 12, the city has two more three-star eateries than Paris, and four have maintained their three-star rating for 10 years running, since the city’s guide first appeared in 2007. Here’s our pick of three to try:

Quintessence

Shuzo Kishida’s take on modern French cuisine lives up to the perfection its name refers to and getting to the heart of things. Trained by the legendary Pascal Barbot, the young chef focuses on respecting the produce and techniques, and paying attention to detail. 
quintessence.jp

Joël Robuchon

The French chef and restaurateur boasts a total of seven stars across his three restaurants in Tokyo. With 28 in total, he tops the list of chefs worldwide. His general perfectionism and delicate take on French cuisine stands him in great stead.  
robuchon.jp

Ishikawa

Chef Hideki Ishikawa’s three-star sushi restaurant offers an intimate dining experience — there are only four private rooms and space for seven at the sushi bar. You’ll probably get lost in the tangle of alleys it’s located in, but the friendly staff will helpfully escort you to the venue. And this element extends to the food; trust them to guide you through your meal. 
kagurazaka-ishikawa.co.jp

WHERE TO STAY


Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi
Pacific Century Place, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

CONCEPT

The smallest Four Seasons hotel in the world, this boutique-style enclave relies on minimalist decor and contemporary facilities to deliver an experience befitting a technologically advanced city. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximise the sunlight, while you can soak in 270-degree corner views of Tokyo from select suites as you dip into a sleek egg-shaped bathtub. Triple glazing provides virtual silence, creating a sense of tranquillity right in the heart of a bustling city. 

DETAILS

The hotel occupies five levels of the Pacific Century Place building. It’s close to the Imperial Palace and Ginza shopping district and a three-minute walk from Tokyo Station — the only international hotel with direct underground access to the station. Its 57 guest rooms are spacious and brim with mod cons. Other amenities include a spa and 24-hour fitness studio. Dine at Motif restaurant, which epitomises esprit terroir (spirit of earth) and serves French cuisine with uniquely Japanese influences.

INFO

Web: fourseasons.com 
Social: facebook.com/FourSeasonsHotel Tokyo
Phone: +81 3 5222 7222

WHERE TO DRINK


TwentyEight, Conrad Tokyo 
Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Japan

CONCEPT

The name is derived from the floor on which this skyscraper bar and lounge is located. Which also means the view of Tokyo is breathtaking — you can see landmarks such as the Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Hamarikyu Teien, Tokyo Bay and the Hama-Rikyu gardens. And if you drop by early evening, you’ll be treated to sunset over the Tokyo skyline. TwentyEight, which is part of Conrad Tokyo, serves an extensive selection of cocktails, beers and spirits.

DETAILS

The bar is open until midnight, and the dress code is casual, including traditional wear such as yukata. However, from 5pm men won’t be allowed in tank tops, flip flops or shorts. If you want to grab a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the night views, you’ll do well to reserve in advance. You can also drop by during the day for an impressive variety of teas, scones, sandwiches and desserts. TwentyEight is a minute away from Shiodome Station, and provides live music from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Cover charges may apply after 8pm.

INFO

Web: conradhotels3.hilton.com
Social: fb.com/conradtokyo
Phone: +81 3 6388 8000

WHERE TO STAY


The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho 
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

CONCEPT

Marrying lush nature and artistic designs with cutting-edge features, the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho is one of the newest luxury hotels in Tokyo. Apart from boasting a sweeping view of the city — often described to be as magnificent as a painting — guests can expect to be enveloped in euphoria and sensory stimulation in its opulent rooms, the indoors pool, hot bath, the Swiss Perfection Spa and the fitness centre that rises 140 meters above ground. 

DETAILS

Situated in what’s known as Tokyo’s most dignified neighbourhood, the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho has 250 rooms that are spacious, elegant and equipped with all the mod-cons you’d expect. The main restaurant serves Japanese-style food, and features sake and sushi bars. Another highlight is Levita, a lounge bar at the soaring sky lobby on the 35th floor. The hotel also offers a board meeting room, equipped with a projector and touch-panel display. Its location is ideal for business and pleasure, with easy access to two metro stations, the Narita and Haneda airports and the Ginza shopping area. 

INFO

Web: princehotels.com
Social: fb.com/theprincegallery.tokyokioicho.en
Phone: +81 3 3234 1111

WHERE TO EXPLORE


Get to know the city better through these activities

Tokyo Winter Illumination

Get enthralled by Tokyo’s solution to dark and gloomy winters between November and February. Among the impressive light shows are the Meguro river illumination, the starlight garden at Tokyo Midtown, the Tokyo Tower and the Shinjuku Southern Terrace. Another brilliant experience is the Marunouchi and Ginza Illumination. 

Tokyo Marathon 

The annual Tokyo Marathon symbolises the past, present and future of Tokyo. This year, the event will be held on February 26, starting at and finishing at Tokyo Station. Besides watching from the sidelines, you can take part in the Friendship Run, held a day earlier. This 4km fun run aims to show runners Japanese hospitality, while facilitating interactions between foreign and local participants. 

Japanese Plum Festival

While most people go for the cherry blossoms, why don’t you welcome the warmer weather with a red carpet? The sight and smell of hundreds of plum trees in blossom is an unforgettable experience. Soak it in at Hanegi Park, which has around 700 plum trees, or at Koishikawa Korakuen, often called Japan’s most romantic garden. Other locations include the area around the Yushima Tenjin shrine and the Kyu-Shiba-Rikyu garden. Incidentally, it is not just about the sight and smell. The festival is also famous for umeshu — locally made sweet plum wine.

INFO

japan-guide.com

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