Five things you don’t want to miss in Ja­pan’s cap­i­tal

How to nav­i­gate cen­tral Tokyo with just an af­ter­noon to spare

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

1 Im­pe­rial Palace and Gar­dens

When the weather is co­op­er­at­ing, the vast and im­mac­u­lately sculpted grounds around the Im­pe­rial Palace are the per­fect an­ti­dote to cen­tral Tokyo’s crowds. Still the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the Im­pe­rial Fam­ily, the palace it­self and the in­ner­most grounds are off lim­its, ex­cept when the Im­pe­rial Fam­ily greets throngs of vis­i­tors (from a balcony from afar) for the Em­peror’s birth­day on De­cem­ber 23, and to wel­come in the new year on Jan­uary 2. The outer grounds, how­ever, are open to the pub­lic and well worth an hour even if time is tight.

If that’s the case, go straight for the main photo op, the dou­blearched Ni­jubashi stone bridge that spans part of the moat. The bridge’s mir­rored re­flec­tion on the wa­ter com­bined with the palace tur­ret pok­ing out of the woods be­hind it has be­come an iconic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of old Tokyo.

With more time to spare, also stop by the East Gar­dens to take in the tra­di­tional land­scap­ing, while if you are vis­it­ing in late March to early April, don’t miss the Ki­tanomaru Park area, where pink cherry blos­som en­gulfs the banks of the Chi­dori­ga­fuchi moat.

If you need a run away from a ho­tel tread­mill, the palace has that, too – the five-kilo­me­tre loop skirt­ing the grounds is one of the city’s most pop­u­lar jog­ging spots. You get great views of the city and moats en route, and the en­tire five kilo­me­tres is un­in­ter­rupted by cross­ings or sig­nals.

2 Na­tional Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art

Walk to the north­ern part of the Palace’s outer grounds for a dose of con­tem­po­rary cul­ture. Di­vided into two parts – the Art Mu­seum and Crafts Gallery – the Na­tional Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, also known as MOMAT, fo­cuses on mul­ti­ple gen­res from the early 20th century to the present, trac­ing the in­flu­ences that both over­seas and tra­di­tional Ja­panese cul­ture have had on mod­ern­day art in the coun­try.

To give an idea of the kind of spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions you might find on a visit, ex­hi­bi­tions in 2018 have cov­ered the dawn­ing of con­tem­po­rary art in Asian coun­tries from the 1960s to 90s, as well as the work of in­flu­en­tial Swedish de­signer and pot­ter Ingegerd Ra­man – the lat­ter in­clud­ing a look at Ra­man’s re­cent work with Ja­panese com­pany Kimura Glass.

MOMAT is open 10am-5pm Tue-Thur and Sun­day, un­til 8pm Fri­day and Satur­day; en­try is ¥500 (US$4.4);

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