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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Top notch food in City guide Tokyo

It’s the world’s most populous city and a global economic powerhouse. The nightlife and shopping are legendary. Tokyo was also a destination on SAS’s groundbreaking around-the-world service over the North Pole – the first flight of its kind.

Au courant

Foodies going to Japan are in for a treat. Tokyo has more Michelin­starred restaurants than Paris (sacré bleu) which indicates the quality of restaurants in the city. Last year, upscale ramen restaurant Tsuta was awarded a star, which has made it more popular than ever. Get there early to pick up a ticket with your allotted time slot.

Tsuta

170-0002 Tokyo, Toshima, Sugamo, 1 Chome−14−1 Plateau−Saka

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Really eeling it

There are lots of great meals to be had in Tokyo, but some are more special than others. It’s ­unlikely you have a broiled eel (unagi) restaurant around the corner at home, so why not try Nodaiwa, which serves only ­wild-caught domestic eel and is located in a converted storehouse?

Nodaiwa

104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo, Ginza, 4−2−15 Tsukamoto suyama biru chika 1kai

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Neighborhood nosh

The question of what to eat when dining with a group is easily solved in Japan, where every neighborhood offers a number of izakaya, an eatery often compared to a pub or diner but that is much more of a restaurant than a bar. The menus have sharable dishes including sashimi, yakitori and tofu. The overall quality is high and in Tokyo, an iconic (if somewhat touristy) possibility is Gonpachi (“the Kill Bill restaurant”).

Gonpachi

106-0031 Tokyo, Minato, Nishiazabu, 1−13−11, 1F 2F

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Hospitable hosts

The Imperial Hotel has been a Tokyo fixture since 1890, and it became world-famous when Frank Lloyd Wright designed the hotel’s second home in 1923. The Wright building was demolished in 1967 and replaced by the current structure, but the hotel remains a symbol of understated Japanese hospitality.

The Imperial Hotel

1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8558

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Urban oasis

Japan is rightly renowned for its gardens, and Tokyo offers several beautiful escapes from the concrete jungle. The one on everyone’s list is Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu), a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji (1852–1912). The shrine itself is at the center of what is essentially a 70-hectare forest in the heart of Tokyo.

Meiji Shrine

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557

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Hamarikyu Gardens

Less well known are the Hamarikyu Gardens, completed by an Edo-period shogun and opened to the public in 1946. The garden has essentially remained unchanged since the shogun walked its paths several centuries ago.

Hamarikyu Gardens

1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0046

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Sumo season

A rather unique experience is a sumo tournament. There are three two-week-long tournaments in Tokyo (January, May and September) and tickets are available in a range of prices. A bit further off the beaten track you can watch a training session at a sumo “stable” although you can’t turn up unannounced. A good hotel concierge will be able to make arrangements for you.

Unexpected economy

Japan isn’t nearly as expensive as advertised. In fact lunch, on average, costs €8, offering budget conscious travelers the chance to eat very well. Another surprising thing is the bargains there are to be had. In general, Japanese people keep their possessions in pristine condition, and when they decide to upgrade, the “old” products they trade in or sell are often indistinguishable from new. Unsurprisingly, Tokyo is a mecca for connoisseurs of vintage camera equipment, which can be found in mint condition at extremely reasonable prices.

Photo: Aman Tokyo

New hotel

When the first Aman hotel opened in Thailand in 1988, there were very few boutique hotels on earth, let alone in Asia. Over the past nearly 30 years, Aman resorts has expanded globally, but the Aman Tokyo, opened in 2015, is the company’s first “urban” hotel. Housed on the top six floors of a financial district office building and offering views of the Imperial Palace Gardens, the hotel offers just 84 rooms, the smallest of which provides guests with 71 square meters of ­luxuriously appointed space. And in Tokyo, space is the most valuable commodity of all.

Aman Tokyo

1-5-6 Otemachi, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0004

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Last edited: August 2, 2017

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