The very best things to see, do and taste in Tokyo right now
Tokyo seldom requires an introduction. Sushi, cherry blossoms, bullet trains, kimono, sumo, matcha, anime, onsen, ramen, Shiseido, and Sony are just a handful of globally recognized terms synonymous with the land of the rising sun. It’s no wonder Japan’s one of the most visited and wish-listed destinations on the planet. With so much to cover, we’ve plucked the very best things to schedule on your next flight to Narita.
Where to Stay
MUJI Hotel Ginza
If you’ve ever stepped into a MUJI lifestyle store and ached for a home makeover, here’s a chance to test the living quarters. MUJI’s boutique hotel may be perched in snazzy Ginza, but inside all 79 rooms breathe a crisp air of Zen. The design aesthetic is focused on wood, stone and earth, with an eco-friendly ethos prevalent.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
The Park Hyatt is a movie buff’s dream: this is the hotel Lost in Translation was set. Johansson aside, the luxury skyscraper features 360-degree views of the city (and on clear days, you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji), and upscale drinking and dining destinations including the revered New York Bar.
Imperial Hotel Tokyo
Tokyo’s hotels don’t get more historic than the Imperial. Opened in 1890 by request of Japanese aristocracy, this golden masterpiece has hosted legends of the past 130 years, including Marylin Monroe, Margaret Thatcher, and the late Queen Elizabeth II.
What to Do
Befriend a Clan of Piglets
Did you know that studies have concluded that pigs are smarter than dogs? Mipig Cafe is the first of its kind in Japan allowing customers to encounter adorable micro pigs (both baby and adult) in between non-alcoholic beverages. The pigs are well cared for and love nothing more than running up to snuggle. You’ll think twice the next time you see pork on the menu.
Lose Yourself in the World of Ghibli
If Hello Kitty wasn’t your bag growing up, chances are Totoro was. The Ghibli Museum is where those childhood fantasies come to life, offering a chance for tourists to immerse in illustrations, exhibits, life-sized replicas, and film. Note that tickets must be purchased a month in advance from Lawson convenience stores.
Swot up on Yayoi Kusama’s dots
With A-List fans spanning Victoria Beckham and Hoyeon Jung, you’re in fashionable company should you choose to board the Kusama train. The Japanese contemporary artist is best known for her polka dot works and infinity installations, and fans can join the dots at her five-story museum in Shinjuku, which includes both permanent and rotating exhibits.
Join a Cherry Blossom Party
The Japanese celebrate sakura (cherry blossom) season harder than any nation, so to best experience the ‘pink’, visit between the end of March and mid-April when festivities are in full swing. Hundreds of groups gather at popular viewing spots such as Yoyogi Park, lay out plastic mats, and get merry on alcoholic-fuelled picnics. Stores are also clad with pink-hued treats, the most popular being rose champagne and strawberry mochi.
Meet the Hachikō
Hachikō, the beloved Akita dog who waited at the same spot every day for nine years after his owner died, has forever been immortalized as a bronze statue outside Shibuya station. However, few realize that Japan’s national treasure can also be seen in the flesh. Well, almost. After his demise in 1935, Hachikō’s remains were taxidermied and he now sits proudly on display at The National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park.
What to Eat and Drink
Genki sushi may be a familiar chain but when it comes to taste, innovation, and value for money, the Tokyo outposts are always a winner. Look out for quirky menu additions including cheeseburger nigiri.
Admittedly, meat-heavy Tokyo isn’t the best place for vegetarian food, but Alisan Park is changing that. The cafe is trusted for delicious organic and vegetarian or vegan dishes, and its location in Yoyogi Park makes it an excellent spot for cherry blossom viewing.
When doing ramen, do it with a Michelin star. Nakiryu was only the second ramen restaurant in Tokyo to earn the coveted award, and as you’d expect, lines form around the block (there are only 10 seats and no reservations). The menu spans soy-based ramen, spicy tantanmen, and chilled dipping noodles.