Explore the dazzling Japanese capital with an overnight stay. From neon cityscapes to ancient art forms, a feast for the senses awaits
SEE THE LIGHTS FROM HIGH AND LOW
When night falls, the districts of Roppongi, Ginza and Shibuya pulsate with locals and visitors embracing the city’s famous (and infamous) nightlife, as Tokyo turns into a showstopping illumination of neon. Take it all in from up high, with many sky-scraping towers offering opportunities to wine, dine and party against this stunning backdrop. Book ahead for a trip up Tokyo City View in Roppongi or Tokyo Skytree in Oshiage, or try the free observation deck at the Metropolitan Government Building. Heading back down to ground level, a night boat trip around Tokyo Bay and the Sumida River offers bright vistas of the city and the iconic Rainbow Bridge.
CATCH A KABUKI SHOW
Elaborate costumes, outlandish stage sets and epic storytelling. Welcome to kabuki, an ancient form of Japanese opera that dates back to the Edo period and takes the theatrical to the extreme. Recognised as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, kabuki draws upon historical events and traditional stories that pull in crowds. Tokyo’s kabuki theatres are some of the finest in the country, and the famous Kabukiza Theatre in Ginza is the best option for visiting guests with daily shows, monitors with English translations, and single-act tickets to give you a taster. While you may not always follow the plot (even locals struggle), the real attraction of these captivating shows is the visuals.
SAVOUR THE WORLD OF SUSHI
With thousands of sushi bars to choose from, there’s no end of opportunity to enjoy Japan’s culinary art form and observe the work of the sushi chef (itamae) up close. To become a sushi master demands at least 10 years of rigorous training, learning the art of preparing rice (each chef has his own recipe) and sashimi (seafood sliced to bring out its unique flavour and texture). Beyond having unrivalled skills with the sushi knife (hōchō), they must be a charming and respectful host, who moves about the kitchen with grace and ease. Female itamaes are extremely rare. You can show sisterly support at Nadeshiko Sushi in Akihabara district, where Tokyo’s first all-female sushi restaurant is making waves in this male-dominated métier.
FEEL DEEP RELAXATION
Escape the madding crowds in a Tokyo onsen (a natural hot-spring-water bathhouse) or sento (a bathhouse with heated mains water to which minerals are added). Bathhouse tradition is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and there are options in every district. Whether you choose a slick super sento (such as Edoyu in Ryogoku) or something more traditional (try Minami Aoyama Shimizu-yu in Aoyama), bathhouse etiquette must be respected. Each has its own policy so it’s wise to check before you go.