Is there a more enticing and truly exciting and diverse city than the Japanese capital of Tokyo? From a luxury standpoint, it offers some of the most exquisite dining in the world, while there are hotels and experiences that are beyond comparison with the Japanese traditions of appreciating the finer things in life, fantastic service and incredible attention to detail.
From sake to sushi, and rich history with temples and iconic cultural neighbourhoods that inspire the imagination, Tokyo also offers modern and exciting attractions which lean on its imaginative creative industries and tech-savvy global brands.
We offer you just a glimpse into a fantastic 48-hour Tokyo experience.
Day 1: Morning
If you want to dive straight into the core of Japanese cuisine, head to the harbour by Tokyo Bay, and wander the famous Toyosu Fish Market (it used to be called the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market). This is where a bluefin tuna sold for 20.8 million yen ($202,197) in 2021 and live tuna auctions are held early in the morning. It's one of the cleanest markets around and also serves delicious meals fresh from the day's catch.
Across town, even though it's not a luxurious endeavour, exploring the famous Akihabara district is still a must-do as it's the hub of otaku (Japanese popular) culture. The streets are filled with manga-inspired shops, attire and quasi-futuristic cafes. Tokyo is such a popular destination for a diverse collection of travellers and this is a unique area that feels almost alien in the best possible way.
The popular cafes include the maid cafes (where waitresses dress up and act like maids or anime characters), and manga cafes, a type of internet cafe where customers can read comics and watch DVDs on the genre. Also, you can try one of the many animal cafes which feature live animals in-store while you enjoy your cup of coffee! The variety of animals includes micro pigs, owls, hedgehogs, snakes, dogs and cats.
The area is also an excellent place to do some gadget and tech shopping and pick up nostalgic gaming mementoes. The recent ongoing development of the area is trying to position“ Akihabara as a centre for global electronics technology and trade.”
Day 1: Afternoon
For the best weather, visitors tend to flock to Tokyo between March-May, and October-November. Spring is incredibly popular and considered the most beautiful time to be in Tokyo as the famous pink cherry blossoms transform the metropolis, and visitors can partake in Hanami, or flower viewing.
Depending on the timing of your visit, you may need some pampering or warmth to escape the winter cold - then head off to one of the several luxury spas in Tokyo.
The Mandarin Oriental offers rejuvenation and a personalised treatment using either Asian or Western remedies and techniques. In addition, the stunning suites are located on the 37th floor to offer breathtaking views of the city - “It is home to four treatment rooms and four suites, with elegantly luxe décor and expanses of windows framing classic views of Tokyo and distant mountain silhouettes.”
Another option is The Peninsula Spa at the Peninsula Tokyo Hotel which offers heated beds, steam rooms, dry saunas and shaved ice fountains as well as a wide and relaxing menu of facials, massages, and body treatments.“With a prestigious Five-Star rating by Forbes Travel Guide, The Peninsula Spa offers luxury skincare and revolutionary anti-ageing facial treatments”.
If you are travelling with the family and have children to entertain, Tokyo is no less exciting. Some of the diverse & fun family attractions in Tokyo include:
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (one of Tokyo’s largest and most beautiful natural areas).
- Universal Studios Japan (Including Super Nintendo World)
- Legoland Japan
- Tokyo Disney Resort
- Studio Ghibli Museum (opens in 2022)
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo (Opening in 2023)
Day 1: Evening
If you want to be in the central hustle and bustle of Tokyo then try Ruby Room - a funky DJ bar/club/live music venue, tucked away in the centre of Shibuya’s busy Dogenzaka nightlife district. The American-owned nightclub has a famous lineup of international artists and also taps into the Japanese underground.
Try one of the best clubs in the world, located a few minutes from Shibuya station, The Womb is one of the most popular clubs in the capital. The highly-rated club has three floors of VIP space which overlook the dance floor and offers bottle service for the reserved tables. The club has consistently featured in the Top 100 Clubs in the world and has hosted some of the best DJs and producers on the planet.
Sumo Tournaments - Tokyo
Don't forget the annual Grand Sumo Tournaments called honbasho (which actually have monthly events too - six per year in total) as tickets for these are hard to come and need to be scheduled in advance.
Three of the six tournaments are held in Tokyo (January, May and September) with each tournament lasting 15 days during which wrestlers compete in one bout per day except lower-ranked wrestlers who compete in fewer bouts.
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Day 2: Morning
One way to explore this huge city is from the air. With a chartered and guided helicopter tour, you can escape the stampede of people below and observe the most iconic landmarks such as Tokyo Gate Bridge, Tokyo Skytree and of course the famed Mount Fuji in the distance.
After your flights, head back to one of the most iconic areas of Tokyo - the Shibuya District - in the daytime for its vibrant and colourful experience - from shops, excellent Tokyo restaurants, and sake bars. Of course, a selfie at the popular and extremely busy Shibuya intersection is a memento that can not be ignored.
If you feel inspired to do some more shopping, Tokyo has a number of luxury department stores and vintage boutiques. In the same area, Laforet Harajuku is a stylishly designed destination with more than 140 stores and nearly 400 fashion brands.
Ginza SIX is considered another go-to shopping experience. The area offers prestigious brands and extravagant retail experiences from Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, and Mikimoto and it's easy to spend hours strolling among Tokyo’s eye-catching department stores and brand flagship outlets. They even offer same-day delivery to your hotel!
Some of the most luxurious hotels in Tokyo are:
- Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
- Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo
- Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho
- Park Hyatt
- Conrad Hilton Hotel
- The Peninsula
- Mandarin Oriental
- Four Seasons
- Aman Tokyo
Day 2: Afternoon
To get your cultural fill, then Asakusa Temple is the most important site in Tokyo. The Edo-era shrine was built, according to legend, when two brothers fished out a Guanyin statue from the nearby Sumida River. Guanyin is the goddess of mercy and the Chinese translation of the bodhisattva – Buddha – in female form.
The temple hosts traditional rituals performed on any day of the week and can be explored as well as the gardens and path which leads towards Nakamise shopping street.
Another way to approach the local culture is by exploring the famous sake and spending some time with an expert who will educate you on the various styles and flavours of the famous Japanese export drink. The Junmai System will be explained and there are several high-end establishments which can offer exclusive tasting - often accompanied by a tantalising meal.
There are also traditional and upscale Japanese tea ceremony experiences such as that offered by Chazen, and of course Japanese Whisky tours.
Day 2: Evening
One last sightseeing stop should include visiting The Tokyo Tower. Visitors can head to the two-story main deck or the 250-metre-high top deck of this iconic building and have pristine views of the city until around 9-9:30 PM.
Alternatively, the Tokyo Skytree, one of the tallest structures in the world, provides vantage points from its 350-metre-high Tembo Deck and gives visitors panoramic views of the city. There is a fine-dining Japanese restaurant (Sky Restaurant 634 Musashi) on the 345th floor.
Japan is home to half of the 10 most expensive Michelin-starred restaurants in the world according to the latest guide released at the start of 2022. Two of the top ten are based in Tokyo:
- #4. Azabu Kadowaki ($825 per meal)
- #6 (tied) ) Joel Robuchon ($637 per meal (they serve French cuisine)
In total, the Japanese capital features 203 Michelin-starred restaurants, and 12 of Tokyo’s three-star restaurants maintained their ratings - Kanda, Joël Robuchon and Quintessence - for the 15th year in a row.
Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants, named as many as 11 in Japan and seven of those are located in Tokyo. Tokyo’s Den, famed for its contemporary Japanese cuisine, became the first Japanese restaurant in nine years to claim the top spot on this prestigious list.
It's possible to organise a kaiseki meal of your own with a top Tokyo chef in an exclusive Michelin-starred restaurant. The chef will guide you through the culture and history behind each of the dishes, as well as teaching techniques for the foundations of the meal!
You can also try the now Netflix-made-famous Sukiyabashi Jiro from the streaming service’s documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi".
As a final nostalgic keepsake, try the views from the New York Grill or Bar at the city’s Park Hyatt in Shinjuku, made famous in the film Lost in Translation. The excellent selection of Japanese whisky combined with stunning views from the 52nd-floor bar via floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as a chance to sample the cellar’s 1,800 bottle collection might be the perfect way to end the 48-hour stay in Tokyo.
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