TOKYO ON THE HOP

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

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

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