There are two sides to Tokyo. Luxury hotels is certainly one of them, as well as the bold, modernist metropolis that’s a hub for pioneering technologies and pop culture. The other is the land of tranquil temples and grand palaces. By day you could seek out centuries-old shrines and picture perfect cherry blossom trees, or shop for the latest gadgets. At night, Tokyo becomes the city of neon, when bustling restaurants and lively karaoke bars come to life. But it’s also the perfect time to take in some traditional theatre – kabuki, a noh play or kyõgen comedy – before heading back to your luxury hotel.
Bright lights, buzzing city: a dazzling mix of skyscrapers and shrines, cutting-edge culture and ancient customs.
Things to do
While the Imperial Palace remains private, the surrounding gardens, theatre and museums are top of most visitors ‘to do’ lists. Make time to stroll along the moat and across the old Nijubashi Bridge. If you only have time to visit one temple, the Meiji Shrine is particularly serene. To take a tour through the world of Japanese art, escape inside Tokyo National Museum. Then, swap traditional sites for tomorrow’s world and climb the soaring Tokyo Sky Tree for panoramic city views.
FOOD & DRINK
This is the capital of sushi and sashimi, tempura and teppanyaki, where food is considered an art form and there are more Michelin starred restaurants than in any other city in the world. Unagi, or eel, is a city-wide favourite, as is yakitori. If you’re brave, try fugu – blowfish. Or indulge in an evening of kaiseki. A form of tasting menu, each dish is a small masterpiece, artfully prepared. Look for the many Tokyo restaurants with open kitchens to watch skilled chefs prepare your food.
A day of shopping brings Tokyo’s heady mix of past and present to life. In glamorous Ginza you’ll have your pick of designer labels, with boutique after luxury boutique offering the latest catwalk trends. Harajuku is a hot spot for alternative fashion while Akihabara is the place to purchase the latest gadgets – and discover anime and manga. If you’re looking for traditional souvenirs, like kimonos and Japanese drums, try Asakusa or Ameya Yokocho Market.
For a natural spa in the centre of the city, seek out ‘onsen’. These volcanic, thermal springs are dotted across Tokyo and range from traditional bathhouses to ultra-modern complexes.
Top Tip from SLH