Why Is This Place so Great?
As the capital of Japan, Tokyo continues to hold its position as the world’s most populated city in the world. With its fun quirks, the city has endless things to do. Visit all sorts of animal cafés that are themed from Mame Shiba (dogs smaller than Shiba Inus), hedgehogs, owls, to snakes, you can pretty much test out your dream pet with just the purchase of a coffee.
Its culture on animation also makes Tokyo the home to multiple theme parks and animation-centric locales that artists will swoon for, including Disney Land (and Sea), Sanrio Puroland (home of Hello Kitty and Friends), the Pokémon Center, and Studio Ghibli Museum.
Also known as the world’s most polite country in the world, Tokyo’s impeccable service is unparalleled. So much so that Tokyo itself has been awarded 234 Michelin Star restaurants, the most in a single city! Alongside great food, comes amazing beverages as well. Cocktail bars are now matching Michelin Starred-chefs artistry and focus to create top quality and fresh seasonal drinks. With all this and more, visitors are bound to love Tokyo!
Where Should I Stay?
For Luxury Choose: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Photo of the Hotel’s Deluxe Premier Room. Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is conveniently located from the 30th to 38th floors of the Nihonbishi Mitsui Tower in Ginza, providing guests with gorgeous floor to ceiling views of the Tokyo skyline (and in some cases Mount Fuji). Each room is equipped with small Japanese touches such as a framed isegata and oblong handcrafted washi paper lanterns. The room also contains some of the finest amenities including Bottega Veneta bath products, Mandarin Oriental Pajamas, and a very extensive pillow menu (guests can order anything from full-length body pillows, snore-reducing pillows, or anti-aging premium down pillows with Vitamin E).
This specific Mandarin Oriental has received numerous accolades, including the coveted Forbes Five Star award in both their hotel and spa, as well as three Michelin stars across their ten dining establishments, namely one star each at Signature, Sense, and Tapas Molecular Bar. With the personalized service combined with high-quality products that the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo provides, guests will definitely have a “FANtastic” stay here.
For Lifestyle Choose: Hotel New Otani Tokyo
Photo of the Hotel’s Standard Room. Courtesy of Hotel New Otani Tokyo
The absolutely massive Hotel New Otani is located within the Chiyoda district of central Tokyo. It contains 643 rooms and suites across three complexes, a tennis court, two swimming pools, a Japanese and rose garden, as well as a mini shopping mall with 42 restaurants and bars (including a revolving restaurant on the top floor of the hotel with views of Mount Fuji). One could stay here for months and not get bored!
On a lifestyle note, the hotel has become very environmentally friendly since its remodeling in 2007. The developers have implemented full height windows for a luxury design and to cut heat as well as UV rays by 50% to save on air conditioning consumption. The building has also enforced water recycling programs that include a grey water system producing a thousand tonnes of water daily from kitchen sewage that is then utilized in the gardens or staff lavatories, and also a water plant facility that distills and purifies drinking water throughout the hotel. With newly equipped electric kitchen systems, the building has also reduced its kitchen carbon emissions by 30%, while implementing a compost plant to recycle 100% of recyclable food resources.
For Boutique Choose: TRUNK (HOTEL)
Photo of the Hotel’s Loft Room. Courtesy of TRUNK (HOTEL)
As one of the few truly Boutique hotels in Tokyo, TRUNK (HOTEL) was designed to appeal to both the international and domestic traveler. Based on the concept of “socializing” this hotel hopes to bring visitors closer to Japanese culture and to harmonize visitors and locals as one. This includes bringing hotel guests and locals together in its TRUNK (LOUNGE) while live DJs spin music after dark, as well as its TRUNK (KITCHEN) that melds Japanese and Western cuisine to bring patrons the ultimate health-centric fusion food.
All 15 rooms are different in its size, layout, and furnishings (revolving around contemporary Japanese design) so that guests can enjoy a different perspective during each stay. To further reinforce the concept of “socializing”, the hotel has not only sourced products Made in Japan but has all ensured that they’re all made entirely out of recycled and natural materials. Rooms feature drinking glasses made out of recycled fluorescent light bulbs, mugs made out of recycled clay, and even beach sandals made from a collection of recycled waste that guests can take home with them.
Located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, the hotel also tries to promote locally produced items, including Shibuya Cola, honey, beer, and Japanese maple tree cookies. All such products can be found in the hotel’s mini bar and gift shop.
**Bonus Hotel: The Prime Pod Ginza Tokyo**
Photo of the Corridor Leading to Individualized Pods. Courtesy of The Prime Pod Ginza Tokyo
Staying in a capsule hotel is a unique experience that was developed in Japan to provide a more basic and affordable type of accommodation, and The Prime Pod is one of the first to transform this into a more luxurious experience.
Guests can expect to find a television (with headphone sets), electrical outlets, USB power supply, reading light, hanger, clock, and safety deposit box in each pod, while larger suitcases be stored within a shared luggage room that is available on each floor (locks and cables are available at check-in). Amenities such as shower products, face wash, toothbrushes, razors, towels, slippers, and even pajamas are also included in the price of accommodation.
The luxurious shared bathroom facilities are complete with two TOTO intelligent toilets, two showers, and twin sinks, which are plentiful for the number of pods in each room. Guests don’t have to fret about sharing facilities with the opposite gender – Each floor has been designated for either male or female travelers, but co-ed facilities can be requested on the 13th floor if you’d prefer to stay with your other half.
Keep in mind that this is still a capsule hotel, which means that all guests need to vacate rooms between 10am and 4pm for cleaning purposes even if they’re staying for more than a night.
What Should I Do?
Luxury: Get Photographed in Kimonos, Yukatas, or Hakamas
In Japan, it is considered a great honor for visitors to engage and celebrate in their culture. Consequently, we highly recommend travelers visiting Tokyo to get glammed up with Kimono Kawaii Company and flaunt the streets of Tokyo. This kimono rental company and professional photography store do the full package when leasing out its traditional Japanese attire.
Guests will meet the in-house stylist to help get dressed and be made picture perfect, complete with a matching hair-do. Once ready, visitors will participate in a professional in-studio photo shoot, followed by one on the streets of Shibuya – Tokyo’s fashion capital. Equipped with men’s hakama and children’s attire as well, you can get the entire family involved in the perfect family portrait.
Lifestyle: Visit Chidorigafuchi Moat
Chidorigafuchi Moat is a lush 700 meters (0.4 miles) long trench that is located on the base of the Imperial Palace. Boats are available for rent between March and November but are most popular during the weeks towards the end of March and beginning of April, once the Sakuras have blossomed. This moat is surrounded by hundreds of different Japanese blossom trees and is the perfect place to take that postcard-worthy picture. While gorgeous during the daytime, the moat is illuminated once dark and creates a very romantic setting.
Boutique: Go “Mario” Kart Racing Around the Streets of Tokyo
Photo Courtesy of MariCar’s Facebook Page
Founded in 2015, MariCAR created an experience for people to live the ultimate Super Mario fantasy – real-life Mario Kart Racing (minus the car bumping and power-ups, of course). Bring your own costume, or rent one from the company and zoom around the sights of Tokyo at 60 kilometers per hour alongside real traffic. There are multiple tours to choose from showing different Japanese landmarks, but don’t expect it to be a thorough history tour – you will be constantly driving after all!
Before you go, ensure that you have a valid Japanese or International Drivers Permit (Those card form licenses won’t help you here!). The company provides helmets, eye protection, and face guard masks free of cost, which we highly suggest using for safety, prevention of particles flying into your face, and reduced inhalation of gas exhausts. Most importantly, smile and don’t forget to have a grand time karting!
Where Should I Eat?
Luxury: Usuki Fugu Yamadaya
Photo Courtesy of Go Voyagin Booking Engine
Sushi enthusiasts and fans of Melissa McCarthy’s hit movie “The Boss” will know that fugu is a poisonous puffer fish and one of the world’s finest delicacies as long as it’s well cleaned and prepared. Usuki Fugu Yamadaya is a 3-Star Michelin restaurant that purely focuses on serving a multi-course menu with fugu featured as its star. Find it prepared in numerous fashions – from sashimi, fried, to steamed. Name the culinary style, and you’ve probably got it.
This exclusive restaurant is also a little difficult to find. It’s located on the basement level of a nondescript residential building in Tokyo, towards the end of an obscure street, and behind an unmarked door. However, once you’ve found this little gem you’re in for the adventure.
Address: 4-11-14 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku Tokyo
Photo Courtesy of Narisawa
Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa is a legend of his own in the culinary world. Chef Narisawa has worked with some of the culinary greats, such as Joël Robuchon and Paul Bocuse, since the age of 19. Upon moving to Tokyo, he opened up his own restaurant called Les Créations de Narisawa, which is now known as Narisawa today.
Patrons are in for a treat when dining at Narisawa. After all, the restaurant has won numerous accolades, including earning a spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for eight consecutive years since its reopening in 2011, 2 Michelin Stars, and the winner of the first-ever Sustainable Restaurant Award by Restaurant Magazine. Narisawa strictly uses fresh local ingredients mostly found exclusively in Japanese terrains. Consequently, the restaurant changes its omakase-style menu every day.
If you’re looking for a more casual place to dine at, Narisawa also operates Bees Bar located only a couple blocks away from its main restaurant.
Address: 2-6-15 Minami Aoyama, Minato 107-0062, Tokyo
Boutique: Eat Like a Sumo Wrestler in a Previous Sumo Training Stable
Photo of the Restaurant on the right, and its Yoshiba Chanko Nabe on the left. Both photos courtesy of Kapou Yoshiba
Kapou Yoshiba has occupied the previously famous sumo stable since 1983. Miyagino stable, as it was previously known, was legendary because it was founded by the 43rd Yokozuna Yoshibayama (highest ranked sumo wrestler) while he was still an active wrestler. Today, restaurant patrons can still see the training environment, since Kapou Yoshiba has kept its architecture and some of its previously used training equipment the same way as it was in the past.
Now operating as a restaurant, Kapou Yoshiba serves authentic Chanko Nabe (a Japanese stew commonly consumed by sumo wrestlers as part of their weight-gain regimen) in four different flavors: soy sauce, salt, miso, or spicy miso. Despite some misconception, the dish is actually considered to be reasonably healthy because it is incredibly rich in protein. It only facilitates in the sumo wrestler’s weight-gain because they eat it in massive quantities while eating bowls of rice and lots of beer to increase the caloric intake. The restaurant also serves a variety of sashimi and sushi as well and is proud to be serving produce all sourced directly from the infamous Tsukiji Market to ensure that ingredients are consistent in its quality.
Address: 2-14-5 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
**Bonus Restaurant: Tsuta**
Photo of the Restaurant’s Ajitama Shoyu Soba dish. Courtesy of Tsuta
Considering that Tokyo has been awarded 234 Michelin star restaurants in 2018, it’s no surprise that some of these establishments are surprisingly affordable. This includes Tsuta, the very first Ramen bar to be awarded this incredible accolade. Since patrons can get a bowl of some of the world’s best Ramen (complete with truffles!) for less than $20 USD, this establishment has had long queues long before it won its Michelin Star. However, since then it has only gained in popularity. Consequently, Tsuta now operates on a color-coded ticket system where patrons feed their reservation deposit into a machine to receive their allocated hour slot for the day.
Some foodies start making their way to the queues as early as 7am, which means tickets can be completely distributed by early morning to noon. Due to this, we highly recommend interested patrons to make their way over to the restaurant early to secure a slot and bring lots of small bills between 1000 to 5000 yen with them to operate the vending machine-like ordering system.
Address: 1-14-1 Sugamo, Toshima, 170-0002, Tokyo Prefecture