Cap­i­tal of cre­ativ­ity

Ja­pan’s top style gu­rus give their ver­dicts on Tokyo’s must-see land­marks

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Japan -

BIRD’S-EYE VIEWS

The lux­u­ri­ous Man­darin Ho­tel Tokyo, lo­cated in the soar­ing Ni­hon­bashi Mit­sui Tower, has a new He­li­copter Fly­ca­tion pack­age for its guests that in­cludes suite ac­com­mo­da­tion and an ex­clu­sive 80-minute chop­per tour to Mount Fuji. Pas­sen­gers are zipped aboard a Euro­copter Her­mes Edi­tion from the cap­i­tal, above the shore­line of Sagami Bay and across Lake Ashi­noko to view the fa­bled peak. More: man­dari­nori­en­tal.com/tokyo. TOKYO SKYTREE: At 634m, the white, earth­quake-proof struc­ture is the cap­i­tal’s new­est cen­tre­piece and boasts be­ing the tallest free­stand­ing tower in the world. A dig­i­tal 19th-cen­tury mu­ral at the en­trance ref­er­ences the cap­i­tal’s his­tory, while two view­ing decks, at 350m and 450m, al­low 360-de­gree views of to­day’s mod­ern city; tokyo-skytree.jp.

Ko­suke Oho, cre­ative direc­tor, WOW de­sign stu­dio:

This is a straight­for­ward and def­i­nite spot to go. Get a splen­did view of Tokyo.

MEIJI JINGU: Em­peror Meiji, the great-grand­fa­ther of the present em­peror, mod­ernised Ja­pan in the 19th and early 20th cen­turies. This Shinto shrine was built in 1920 and ded­i­cated to the di­vine spir­its of Em­peror Meiji and his con­sort. Exit at Hara­juku sta­tion. The gate­way here leads to the naien (in­ner precinct), a serene area with a for­est and shrine build­ings that lo­cals flock to on New Year’s Day to make their first prayer of the year. About 2km away, the gaien (outer precinct) in Aoyama pro­motes sports and cul­ture; mei­ji­jingu.or.jp.

DYSK, com­mer­cial pho­tog­ra­pher:

It’s un­be­liev­ably peace­ful here, par­tic­u­larly in the early morn­ing when there are fewer peo­ple around. Feel the sea­sons here, smack in the mid­dle of Tokyo.

KOKYO GAIEN: This strik­ing set­ting in­hab­its the for­mer site of Edo Cas­tle, which was re­con­structed as the Im­pe­rial Palace in 1888, only to be de­stroyed in World War II. The palace was re­built to the ex­act mea­sure­ments of the ini­tial struc­ture and con­tin­ues to house Ja­pan’s im­pe­rial fam­ily. A short walk from Tokyo sta­tion, Kokyo Gaien, the Im­pe­rial Palace Plaza, is sur­rounded by moats and colos­sal stonewalls and oc­cu­pies 3.41sq km. The com­pound’s in­ner grounds are rarely open to the public but visit on Jan­uary 2 (New Year’s Greet­ings), De­cem­ber 23 (Em­peror’s Birth­day) or dur­ing cherry blos­som sea­son. Oth­er­wise, re­serve a guided tour; jnto.org.au.

Shun Kawakami, art direc­tor and artist, art­less inc.:

Ex­pe­ri­ence Ja­panese sense of beauty here. The quiet evenings at Im­pe­rial Palace are my favourite mo­ments in Tokyo. THE NA­TIONAL ART CEN­TRE, TOKYO: NACT, the Sun­tory Mu­seum of Art in Mid­town and the Mori Art Mu­seum in Rop­pongi Hills col­lec­tively form a cul­tural hub known as Art Tri­an­gle Rop­pongi. When celebrity ar­chi­tect Kisho Kurokawa (1935-2007) planned the cen­tre, he en­vi­sioned an oa­sis of com­fort amid the in­tense ur­ban dis­trict. Con­torted glass cur­tains and huge in­verted cones are among or­na­ments de­signed to cre­ate con­fu­sion, invit­ing vis­i­tors to pon­der ar­chi­tec­ture as they might art; nact.jp.

Kashiwa Sato, art direc­tor:

At its shop, Sou­venir From Tokyo, you will find, as its name sug­gests, a per­fect sou­venir. Goods in­clude orig­i­nal sta­tionery, table­ware and cloth­ing.

GINZA KABUKIZA: Em­brac­ing the ar­chi­tec­tural style of its pre­de­ces­sors, Kabukiza Theatre’s fifth man­i­fes­ta­tion by Kengo Kuma has re­mained a hall­mark for kabuki dance-drama since open­ing in 1889. El­e­gant fea­tures of the last Mo­moyama- style de­sign built in 1951 by Yoshida Isoya (1894-1974) are skil­fully pre­served, with im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Also de­signed by Kuma on the site is a dis­tinc­tive 29-storey of­fice build­ing at odds with the over­all de­sign. A full kabuki pro­gram, com­pris­ing three to four-act dance-dra­mas from dif­fer­ent plays, spans hours, while last-minute tick­ets for sin­gle acts sell at the ground-floor ticket counter; kabuki-za.co.jp.

NIGO, fash­ion designer, pro­ducer and DJ:

The new theatre was un­veiled in spring 2013. En­joy a kabuki per­for­mance with English ear­phone guide, as well as its ar­chi­tec­ture.

MY­O­JIN NO YU: The heal­ing prop­er­ties of this tra­di­tional Ja­panese-style sento (public bath) are known to avail mus­cle aches, pains and sore joints while pro­vid­ing re­lax­ation. With its 16th-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture, the ma­jes­tic struc­ture re­sem­bles a tem­ple, and the site has been used fre­quently in movies and com­mer­cials. Vi­brant hand-painted walls sur­round­ing the herbal baths de­pict Ja­panese land­scapes. (In north­ern Tokyo.)

Lu­cas Badtke-Berkow, founder, Knee High Me­dia:

Bring a towel, soap and sham­poo. Go there in the day­time as beau­ti­ful light comes through the win­dows. The art­work on the walls is amaz­ing.

NEZU MU­SEUM: Founded in 1914 and ren­o­vated by ar­chi­tect Kengo Kuma in 2009, the new Nezu Mu­seum is a grace­ful in­te­gra­tion of tra­di­tion and ur­ban de­sign. Dark pitched roofs and glass walls set off rail­road baron Kaichiro Nezu’s 7400 Ja­panese an­tiq­ui­ties against a splen­did gar­den. Stroll around it, es­pe­cially in mid-May when the abun­dance of bloom­ing irises ap­pears to dye the pond pur­ple, then un­wind at peace­ful mod­ern tea­room NEZUCAFE; nezu-muse.or.jp.

Keizo Kuroda, hair and makeup artist:

This is the place to feel the spirit of Ja­pan from both the col­lec­tions and ap­pear­ance.

SAIKO SAIBANSHO: Be­ing the first west­ern-style Supreme Court in the coun­try, the im­pres­sive land­mark was en­vi­sioned by Shinichi Okada in 1974, win­ner of an open com­pe­ti­tion. Run­ning par­al­lel to its neigh­bour­ing Na­tional Theatre and Na­tional Diet Li­brary, the Bru­tal­ist con­crete struc­ture is said to be par­tially in­spired by the US Supreme Court; courts.go.jp.

Takeshi Ha­mada, graphic designer:

This build­ing has no curves and makes a great graphic im­pact. You won’t want to go there for of­fi­cial busi­ness, just to ad­mire its look.

This is an ex­tract from the guide book CITIx60 Tokyo: 60 lo­cal cre­atives bring you the best of the city (Vic­tion:ary, $16.95; dis­trib­uted by Books at Manic; manic.com.au).

Tokyo Skytree, left; au­tumn leaves at Meiji Jingu, above; Na­tional Art Cen­tre, be­low left; and Kabukiza Theatre, be­low right

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