A Unique Ex­pe­ri­ence in Tokyo

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Paula Whit­taker Im­ages © Aman Tokyo

Tokyo is a unique city. It’s known as a “metropoli­tan pre­fec­ture”, which means it com­bines el­e­ments of a city and a pre­fec­ture – an ad­min­is­tra­tive ju­ris­dic­tion or sub­di­vi­sion, of which Tokyo has 47. That is not the only as­pect of the cap­i­tal of Ja­pan that is dis­tinc­tive.

While go­ing to Tokyo to walk along streets lined with cherry blos­soms is cer­tainly one of the high­lights of a trip to this me­trop­o­lis, there are many fas­ci­nat­ing sights of the non­nat­u­ral va­ri­ety.

The Mod­ern

Tokyo fea­tures many mod­ern land­marks. One of the most dis­tinc­tive is the Re­versible Des­tiny Lofts in Mi­taka. This building, which re­minds one of the ab­stract art cre­ated by Wass­ily Kandin­sky, was built us­ing colour­ful cubes, tubes, and cir­cles. The whole com­plex of shapes is painted in 14 colours, and a se­ries of out­side walk­ways and stair­cases link the dif­fer­ent sec­tions.

Saint Mary’s Cathe­dral, the seat of the Ro­man Catholic Arch­dio­cese of Tokyo, was orig­i­nally a wooden struc­ture built in 1899. It was de­stroyed dur­ing World War II, and re­placed in 1964 by a mas­sive struc­ture of mod­ern, an­gu­lar pro­por­tions. Eight hy­per­bolic parabo­las, or curved sur­faces, rise up­wards to form a cross of light, which con­tin­ues ver­ti­cally along the length of the four façades of the building, with the ex­te­rior made en­tirely from stain­less steel.

High fash­ion brand Prada’s flag­ship store in Tokyo is one of the most dis­tinc­tive works of ar­chi­tec­ture in the city. Out­side, the green glass façade bulges from a di­ag­o­nal grid, and the six-storey in­te­rior houses re­tail floors, lounges, and event spa­ces.

The Tra­di­tional

The well-kept build­ings rep­re­sent­ing Ja­pan’s fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory are jux­ta­posed with the clean lines of the city’s metal mod­ern struc­tures.

The Edo-tokyo Open Air Ar­chi­tec­tural Mu­seum fea­tures a range of his­toric build­ings along its walk­ways, which were re­lo­cated or re­con­structed here in or­der to pre­serve the ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory of the city. A politi­cian’s el­e­gant for­mer res­i­dence, a farm house, a pub­lic bath­house, var­i­ous shops, and a police box are all fea­tured, with most struc­tures orig­i­nat­ing from the mid-1800s to early 1900s.

To see tra­di­tional Ja­pa­nese ar­chi­tec­ture and in­dulge in some tra­di­tional cui­sine, visit Kosoan Tea House, set in a cen­tury-old Ja­pa­nese house, with a beau­ti­ful land­scaped gar­den. Wooden pan­els, scrolls hang­ing on the walls, and vin­tage fur­ni­ture set the at­mos­phere, with cush­ions on the floor along­side low ta­bles as seat­ing. Tra­di­tional desserts, such as rice balls and hot matcha and bean treats, are served.

Where to Stay

Aman Tokyo is a place of clean lines and min­i­mal­ism, which re­sults in a calm­ing, re­fined at­mos­phere.

With in­spi­ra­tion taken from tra­di­tional Ja­pa­nese ar­chi­tec­ture, as seen in the slid­ing doors and low seat­ing, com­bined with the con­tem­po­rary el­e­ments of mod­ern life such as lux­u­ri­ous fabrics and state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy, the rooms

and suites of Aman Tokyo are mind­calm­ing re­treats. The ho­tel rises high up in the me­trop­o­lis’ sky­line, its floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows af­ford­ing the rooms and suites breath-tak­ing views of the sprawl­ing city as well as Im­pe­rial Palace Gar­dens and Mount Fuji in the dis­tance.

Aman Tokyo’s sig­na­ture restau­rant, Alva, of­fers Ital­ian flavours and com­fort­ing meals to share with fam­ily and friends in a warm at­mos­phere. The dishes here are un­com­pli­cated, fo­cus­ing on the rich his­tory of Ital­ian cui­sine, and fea­ture lo­cal, sea­sonal, and sus­tain­ably-sourced in­gre­di­ents.

The Café at Aman Tokyo is a green gem in the ho­tel’s crown. The French café is sur­rounded by the lush green­ery of the Otemachi For­est, which changes as the sea­sons do, and is a vi­brant nat­u­ral ta­pes­try to gaze upon while en­joy­ing French clas­sics served with com­ple­ment­ing wine or af­ter­noon tea.

Tokyo Musts

Just a few min­utes away from Aman Tokyo is the Im­pe­rial Palace with its sprawl­ing gar­dens. Sur­rounded by moats and mas­sive stone walls, the Im­pe­rial Palace is lo­cated on the for­mer Edo Cas­tle, and is still the res­i­dence of the Ja­pa­nese Royal Fam­ily. It is well worth a visit when in the city.

Mount Fuji, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site, can be reached from the cen­tre of Tokyo via Shinkansen, col­lo­qui­ally known as the bul­let train. Con­sid­ered to be one of Ja­pan’s most sa­cred moun­tains, it is a place of pil­grim­age, and those want­ing to tackle this ac­tive vol­cano can take part in or­gan­ised hikes to the sum­mit.

Hara­juku and Aoyama are two of Tokyo’s most fa­mous ar­eas – Hara­juku for the Mei­ji­jingū shrine, con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture, and art mu­se­ums, and Aoyama for the ul­ti­mate in shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.

A trip to Tokyo has so much to of­fer trav­ellers, from those seek­ing the height of moder­nity, to those wish­ing to get lost in tra­di­tional splen­dour, the ex­pe­ri­ence is as unique as the city it­self. For more in­for­ma­tion on Aman Tokyo, visit www.aman.com.

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