24 HOURS

Frequent Flyer Destinations - - CONTENTS -

Tokyo is a fas­ci­nat­ing city, with a Greater Tokyo pop­u­la­tion of nearly 40 mil­lion. It de­serves far more than 24 hours, but if that’s all you have, en route to an­other des­ti­na­tion in Asia, make the most of your visit and of 24 hours!

AR­RIVE RE­FRESHED IN ANA FIRST CLASS, JAL FIRST CLASS OR JAL BUSINESS CLASS

If you plan to hit the ground run­ning, you’ll want to have slept on your flight and ar­rive re­freshed. For­tu­nately, Ja­pan’s two ma­jor air­lines, ANA (All Nip­pon Air­ways) and JAL (Ja­pan Air­lines), have stel­lar first class beds, and JAL has my fa­vorite business class bed. Both the ANA First Class and JAL First Class beds are 33 inches wide, full flat beds with well cush­ioned mat­tress pads that are placed on them. I give the edge to JAL First Class’ air­weave mat­tress, which even has a choice of firm or soft. You’ll also be able to en­joy ex­cel­lent Ja­panese or Western cui­sine, and Ja­panese cui­sine tends to be ideal for trav­el­ers, with its em­pha­sis on seafood, vegeta­bles, and lighter prepa­ra­tions. And both ANA and JAL First Class crews are con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­als, po­lite and at­ten­tive, so you’ll lack for noth­ing.

TAKE THE NARITA EX­PRESS

As­sum­ing you ar­rive into Narita Air­port, take the Narita Ex­press, both to avoid sur­face road traf­fic and as the most eco­nom­i­cal op­tion, at a cur­rent cost of about 3000 JPY, or less than $30, com­pared to taxi fares of about 22,000 JPY, or $200 or more each way. Use your sav­ings in­stead to­wards one of Tokyo’s top lux­ury ho­tels or a great sushi meal.

STAY AT ONE OF TOKYO’S LUX­URY HO­TELS

The Penin­sula Tokyo - Tokyo is one of the world’s best lux­ury ho­tel cities, and com­pe­ti­tion keeps stan­dards very high. If you have an early morn­ing ar­rival or a late evening de­par­ture, opt for The Penin­sula Tokyo, since de­pend­ing on how you book the ho­tel, you could en­joy flex­i­ble check-in and check-out. This en­ables you to gain early ac­cess to your room or suite or, if it’s not avail­able, to an­other room un­til your room is ready. A god­send when you only have lim­ited time in the city and may be in need of a shower or power nap. There’s also a great lap pool for those want­ing an in­vig­o­rat­ing swim.

Aman Tokyo - If you want to ex­pe­ri­ence the best Tokyo lux­ury ho­tels have to of­fer, head to the Aman Tokyo, opened in 2015, with en­try level Deluxe Rooms the size of suites at other ho­tels, at 764 square feet, each a peace­ful sanc­tu­ary and with a dis­tinctly Ja­panese aes­thetic, from the shoji doors sep­a­rat­ing the bath­room from the bed­room, and an ofuro (Ja­panese soak­ing tub) with fra­grant cedar salt and house­made Aman bath prod­ucts. Don’t miss the gor­geous pool, my fa­vorite among Tokyo lux­ury ho­tels, with panoramic views of the city.

Four Sea­sons Tokyo - If you’ll be spend­ing more time else­where in Ja­pan and will be de­part­ing Tokyo by Shinkansen, head to Four Sea­sons Tokyo, one of the Four Sea­sons’ small­est, bou­tique style ho­tels, right by Tokyo Sta­tion. The ad­van­tage to Four Sea­sons Tokyo when ar­riv­ing by Narita Ex­press is that one of their team mem­bers will ac­tu­ally meet you when ar­riv­ing on your train, or es­cort you to the cor­rect plat­form when you’re de­part­ing, so your ar­rival and de­par­ture are seam­less. The Four Sea­sons Tokyo of­fers the new Four Sea­sons bed, with a choice of 3 dif­fer­ent mat­tress top­pers (our choice was the Sig­na­ture Plush). We slept bet­ter at this ho­tel than any other.

Man­darin Ori­en­tal - If your brief Tokyo stay is due to business, and you know you won’t have time to sight­see or even leave the ho­tel much ex­cept for meet­ings, I rec­om­mend the Man­darin Ori­en­tal

Tokyo. Thanks to its many fan­tas­tic din­ing op­tions, in­clud­ing their sushi bar Sushi

Sora, great piz­zas at Pizza Bar on 38th, plus Can­tonese and French cuisines, as well as molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy at 1 Miche­lin star at Tapas Molec­u­lar Bar, Man­darin Ori­en­tal Tokyo has a very high level of ser­vice. We ex­pe­ri­enced this when one of us in­ad­ver­tently left our lap­top 1 hour out­side of Tokyo. One of the bell staff ac­tu­ally went and re­trieved it for us, and re­fused to take any more com­pen­sa­tion than the ac­tual trans­port cost. The Concierge was, mean­while, able to help find and pro­cure a new cam­era bat­tery charger for me overnight, to re­place one I’d mis­placed. Sim­ply fan­tas­tic ser­vice.

TO START THE NIGHT KICK­ING, CHECK OUT THESE BARS

Gen Ya­mamoto is a small, ex­clu­sive Tokyo bar of­fer­ing a se­lec­tion of sea­sonal cock­tails made from only the best lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents. The fo­cus for ev­ery drink here is not on the al­co­hol con­tent, but on the har­mony of the fla­vors; the es­tab­lish­ment aims to serve cre­ative and re­fresh­ing taste com­bi­na­tions with ev­ery cocktail it of­fers. The man­darin, kiwi and akane ap­ple drinks here are di­vine.

Tokyo Pub Crawl is not a bar; it is ac­tu­ally Tokyo’s largest and long­est run­ning nightlife bar tour. Par­tic­i­pants get to visit at least three dif­fer­ent bars and clubs on this trip, with drink dis­counts, free shots and a dy­namic at­mos­phere all night. If Tokyo vis­i­tors want to have a great time and meet in­ter­est­ing peo­ple, then this is the place to be. 1Kara - Throw­ing the so­cial as­pect of karaoke out the win­dow,1Kara takes a dif­fer­ent ap­proach and of­fers karaoke booths for one. For first-timers, it’s the per­fect place to prac­tice be­fore your next party. And for sea­soned singers, noth­ing is more ther­a­peu­tic than belt­ing out your fa­vorite tunes with­out wor­ry­ing

if the neigh­bors are lis­ten­ing. A ba­sic booth will set you back around 800 yen an hour on week­days and 900 yen on week­ends, with lux­ury up­grades avail­able. Head­phones are used in­stead of speak­ers, so if you for­get yours, rentals are avail­able for a 300 yen fee.

WHAT TO EAT

While I’ve lived in Ja­pan for a year and been for­tu­nate to dine at sev­eral ex­cel­lent sushi bars, my cur­rent fa­vorite is Sushisho Masa in Tokyo. Make your reser­va­tion through your ho­tel concierge, and be aware that a meal here will run 25,000-30,000 JPY, or about $250 per per­son for food alone. But for us, it was worth it, given the va­ri­ety of ex­cel­lent ni­giri, sashimi, and side dishes that we en­joyed, in­clud­ing many pairs of the fresh fish con­trasted with a cooked or smoked ver­sion. Come hun­gry–we thought we were suf­fi­ciently hun­gry, but didn’t man­age to make it to the last dishes of the 50 or so that the chef wanted to serve us.

Sukiyabashi Jiro - It’s a clas­sic, but it still de­serves a men­tion as one of the most iconic sushi spots in the city. Af­ter win­ning 3 stars from the Miche­lin Guide, Sukiyabashi Jiro has be­come one of the most fa­mous sushi restau­rants in the world. The chef and owner, Jiro Ono, has been cel­e­brated in David Gelb’s 2011 doc­u­men­tary, Jiro Dreams

of Sushi, and Obama stopped off here with Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in 2014. The restau­rant is tiny and you’ll have to re­serve ahead, but it’s worth the ef­fort for some of the fresh­est and finest sushi in Tokyo. Don’t ex­pect a menu; din­ers are pre­sented with in­di­vid­ual sushi por­tions, one af­ter the other, de­pen­dent on what the kitchen has been pre­par­ing.

Takazawa - Only serv­ing 20 din­ners per month, with two to six guests per sit­ting, Takazawa is an ex­clu­sive restau­rant tucked be­hind an un­marked door in Mi­nato. In a room with only three ta­bles, chief Yoshi­aki Takazawa cre­ates dishes in­spired by both French and Ja­panese tech­niques. He pre­pares the meals in a kitchen in the cen­tre of the room, putting him just a few feet from cu­ri­ous din­ers. Takazawa’s wife acts as wait­ress, dish­ing out de­lec­ta­ble and in­no­va­tive treats such as deep fried mush­room cap with leafy greens and curry ice cream. Ichi­ran Ra­men - If you’re up late and need a food fix, Ichi­ran is a ra­men chain with sev­eral lo­ca­tions op­er­at­ing 24 hours. With lots of cus­tomiza­tion op­tions avail­able, Ichi­ran is sure to sat­isfy even the pick­i­est eaters.

SHOP­PING

Make your way to Hara­juku’s Takeshita Street for shop­ping and peo­ple­watch­ing. Takeshita Street con­tains tons of quirky shops and trin­ket sell­ers. So whether you’re look­ing for off­beat sou­venirs or unique pieces to add to your wardrobe, you’ll find them here. Hara­juku’s un­of­fi­cial spe­cialty is crepes, so grab one be­fore head­ing to­ward Omote­sando.

Out­side Shibuya Sta­tion you’ll find the land­mark pedes­trian scram­ble and the Hachiko statue along with droves of stylish youth shop­ping for the lat­est trends. If that isn’t enough, the fash­ion for­ward trio of dis­tricts Hara­juku, Aoyama, and Omote­sando are within walk­ing dis­tance.

IM­AGE COUR­TESY OF JONAT

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