A Unique Experience in 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.
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 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.
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.