Shopping, nightlife, art, and food are a constant beat in this sprawling city of over 13 million people. And with Tokyoites who play as hard as they work, Japan’s capital seems to never rest. By Katherine Kims
In Japan’s modern day metropolis, discover the traditions of the former Edo.
No trip to Tokyo is complete without a stop to Tsukiji. The 81-year old fish market is also the world’s largest. Explore the expansive labyrinth of stalls selling hundreds of varieties of fish from summertime unagi and abalone to prized fugu and blue fin tuna. Catch the famous early morning auction—get there by 3 a.m.—where bids can fetch prices up to 155.4 million yen ($1.3 million). Then, queue up for sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai.
Seek respite in the bustling city at Meiji Jingu, a calming oasis in the middle of Tokyo. The Shinto shrine sits inside a lush, 170-acre park dense with over 100,000 trees. Stroll along graveled paths to the main building, a 95-year old cypress and copper-planked shrine.
In a city noted for its high-rise buildings, there are just as many sky-high views. Though not the tallest in Tokyo, Roppongi Hills’ Mori Tower offers 360-degree vistas from Tokyo Bay to Mount Fuji. But the views shouldn’t take away from the main attraction: Mori Art Museum. On the way out, shop originals from Takashi Murakami and Kusama Yayoi at the Roppongi Hills Art & Design Store.
With the most Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo is the world’s top dining destination.
Enjoy the ritual of a traditional kaiseki dinner at Kojyu. The three Michelin-starred restaurant offers a multi-course tasting menu that highlights the seasons. The knowledgeable staff guides diners through the wine and sake list and artful dishes, from delicate fish consommé to seared Kobe beef to uni-topped lobster.
At Den Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa creates haute Japanese bites while having fun. Signature plates include Dentucky Fried Chicken—an elevated version of fried chicken served in a takeout box embossed with an image of Colonel Hasegawa—and a modern take on traditional monaka wafer, filled instead with persimmon and foie gras.
Make a pilgrimage to one of the many sushi-yas. Up three flights inside a nondescript Ginza building, Sushi Sawada offers some of the city’s best. Helmed by two-Michelin star chef Koji Sawada and his wife, the restaurant offers omakase lunch and dinner. But with only six seats, reservations are a must. (Ask your travel specialist to book well in advance.) A minimalist dining room sets the stage for an intimate, unforgettable meal of expertly prepared nigiri.
Whether you’re after opulent, Zen, or classic digs, expect amazing service and breathtaking views at these Tokyo hotels.
With more than 800,000 crystals bejewelling over 50 chandeliers and over 2,000 original artworks hanging throughout Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, the 200-room property is nothing short of lavish. Onsite Nadaman restaurant offers top-notch kaiseki set menus for lunch and dinner. Fight jet lag with an energy restoring treatment at Chi. The spa uses Eastern cure-alls such as Tibetan crystals, Himalayan salts, and stimulation of pressure points.
Aman Tokyo is an urban sanctuary located thirty-three floors up (with six combined floors) of Marunouchi’s Otemachi Tower. Find serenity in the grand, light-filled lobby with soaring ceilings and a stone reflecting pool. Enjoy koto at “Black Afternoon Tea,” appropriately named after the monochromatic spread. Or take in sweeping views from the Library or Cigar Lounge. All 84 rooms combine urban sophistication with traditional Japanese design using washi paper and blonde camphor wood and featuring a furo soaking tub. The impressive spa boasts a steam and onsen-like sauna, fitness center, yoga studio, and a panoramic indoor 100-foot pool that seems set in the clouds, miles away from the city.
Directly facing the Imperial Palace, the Palace Hotel is iconic in the Tokyo landscape. Reserve the Chiyoda Suite, outfitted with a traditional Japanese soaking tub, art, and textiles. The setting from the wraparound terrace doesn’t get any better with top floor views of the Palace and Tokyo skyline. There are 10 restaurants—from tempura and teppanyaki to French fine dining at the Michelin-starred Crown—and Japan’s first Evian spa.