Destination of the Week: Tokyo
Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world, on a sci-fi backdrop of futuristic skyscrapers and Japanese pop culture. But, it’s not all about reinvention. Tokyo retains its traditional culture with sumo tournaments, tea ceremonies and ancient alleyways. The best time to go? When the enchanting cherry blossoms are in full bloom, during March and April.
What to do
For a bird’s eye view, take a trip to the observation decks in the world’s tallest free standing tower, Tokyo Sky Tree. Explore the Japanese love for blending architecture with nature at the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken.
Visit Kabuki-za to see an extravagant kabuki performance and have an authentic experience at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. For history buffs, The Tokyo National Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Japanese art and Senso-ji is Tokyo’s most visited Temple.
Cat cafes are popular in Tokyo, to pop in for a relaxing cup of tea and a cuddle with a furry feline. When a break from the mad rush is in order, visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden to admire themed landscaping. Fashion fanatics must explore Tokyo’s most famous district, Shibuya, for shopping, entertainment and an eccentric street vista that’s constantly changing.
As night falls, you get a true sense of being catapulted into the future, as you’re blinded by the haze of neon signs. The nightlife is extraordinary, with mega-clubs, international DJs, bustling sushi restaurants and the all-time favourite of the locals, Karaoke.
Where to stay
Tokyo is not the cheapest city to visit, but the incredible array of accommodation options are likely to be the cleanest you’ve ever seen, with superior service and state of the art facilities.
Park Hyatt Tokyo (£££)
If you want fluffy bathrobes, deep bathtubs and Egyptian cotton sheets to go with your Tokyo adventure, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is the place for you. Close to Shinjuku Central Park, the hotel also has a spa, a fitness centre, a library, restaurants, a bar and free Wi Fi throughout.
Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon (££)
Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon is in a superb location, just steps from the Imperial Palace in the heart of Tokyo, with easy links to transport. If you stay there, you’ll enjoy 4 restaurants, free Wi Fi, a beauty salon and rooms with minibars, TVs, toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities.
House Ikebukuro (£)
A well-priced hotel known for its service and cleanliness, House Ikebukuro offers traditional futon bedding, a common use kitchen, rooms with either shared or private bathrooms, air-conditioning, coin-operated laundry facilities and it’s close to transport links to explore the city.
Where to eat
Are you ready to test your taste buds? Tokyo bursts at the seams with restaurants, most notable for exquisite, fresh food and the impeccable manners of the staff. From sushi, to Wagu beef, tempura, tea ceremonies and crepes filled with all manner of sweet bites, you’ll find your eyes are definitely bigger than your stomach.
New York Grill (£££)
If you’re a fan of the movie, ‘Lost in Translation’, you may want to visit the New York Grill, located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Apart from the outstanding views, you can feast on a menu including Scallops, Sun Dried Tomato and Wasabi Salsa and King Crab Cakes, Romesco Sauce and Sour Cream
Aoi Marushin (££)
If golden, crispy tempura is on your mind in Tokyo, pop into Aoi Marushin for a famous Tempura set, soup, sashimi, grilled fish, rice and dessert. You’ll find it close to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
The Tsukiji Market (£)
The Tsukiji Market is famous for its incredible tuna fish auctions, so get up with the sun to watch the place come alive. Then, tuck in to what could quite possibly be the most fresh, delectable sushi you’re ever likely to have.
Featured image source: (c) istock/thinkstock