TOKYO ON THE HOP
The Tokyo Skybus, which departs on the hour from the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo station from 10am to 6pm, costs Y=1200 ($12), or Y=600 for children four to 11. It’s a good 50-minute orientation loop; passengers duck under the overhanging branches of gingko and wild cherry trees by the Imperial Palace and see downtown landmarks such as the National Theatre, Diet (parliament) building and the National Museum of Modern Art. Buy tickets at the Skybus desk in the Marunouchi Building lobby. www.skybus.jp.
Alongside the Peninsula Tokyo, Maranouchi Naka-Dori has been dubbed the city’s Rodeo Drive equivalent. It’s a pretty, tree-lined street of big-name fashion houses; Australian chef Luke Mangan’s terrific Salt restaurant is on the sixth floor of the Shin Maru Building in this precinct. www.pjgroup.jp/salt.
Thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar, Japan is an absolute bargain. Look for fab clothing from Zara and UNIQLO (in Ginza and the youth suburbs of Shinjuku and Shibuya), souvenirs galore at Oriental Bazaar (Omotesando boulevard, Harajuku), and inexpensive food-court style dining in the basement of the Galleria building at the Tokyo Midtown lifestyle mall (from American-style chowder to Vietnamese pho soup, noodles to pasta) or tempura in a traditional atmosphere (waitresses in kimono; private rooms available) at Tempura Yamanoue on the Galleria’s thirdfloor Garden Terrace. www.tokyo-midtown.com.
Most five-star hotels have set-price lunch menus with plenty of choice. The Peninsula’s Peter has three courses for Y=4500: a steal by luxury-hotel standards. Afternoon tea at the hotel is Y=3200, including finger sandwiches, quiche, cakes and scones.
Don’t overlook supermarkets for cheap, fun souvenirs. The 24-hour Precce Premium in the Galleria basement at Tokyo Midtown has beautifully packaged bottles of soy sauce and mirin for about Y=700, Hello Kitty calendars and cards, and exquisitely giftboxed sake. Susan Kurosawa