A Guide To Getting Lost In Tokyo
If Maria Sharapova has her way, she would get lost in Tokyo and stay hidden for as long as possible. The World No. 5 counts Japan as one of her favourite travel destinations and has willingly lost her heart to its magnetic capital city.
“I still love to travel,” she told woman with drive in an exclusive interview. “And I love travelling to Asia, particularly Japan. It has been a favourite since I was young.”
“I have such fond memories of getting off in different cities and being in a completely new environment. It was fascinating. And I love Tokyo. I feel I can just get lost in that city and hope that no one finds me for a long time!”
Taking our cue from her, woman with drive has put together a list of places and experiences in Tokyo that will have you wanting lose yourself in the city’s vibrancy as well.
A good journey starts with a good place to lay your head, and Tokyo has an abundance of such places. For a cultural vibe, stay at the beautiful Tokyo Station Hotel and enjoy its classical European styled rooms, French restaurant and sharp bars.
For a deft blend of old and new, head over to the Capitol Hotel Tokyo where the extraordinarily spacious rooms feature paper screens alongside modern amenities.
And if you really want a taste of Japanese décor, then the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills will delight with its use of washi paper, wood and Japanese-inspired partitions that allow you to customise your space.
Or wait until July, when the Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts debuts its second property in Japan, the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho. Located in the heart of the metropolis, the hotel will boast a bar with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the city landscape.
Where else would you soak your troubles away in Japan if not at an onsen or natural hot spring? Even better if it comes attached to a ryokan or traditional Japanese inn. Some of Japan’s best ryokans are located about two hours out of Tokyo.
Gora Kaden in Hakone is a member of Relais & Chateaux, the French association reputed for its first class standards, and has naturally won high praise for its design and service. Gora Sounkaku, also in Hakone, offers nighttime baths, a private open-air bath and a relaxation room aside from traditional hot spring baths.
A little further out in the Izu Peninsula is another Relais & Chateaux member, Asaba, which is situated a few minutes from the sacred river Katsura and has open baths that look out to its rugged landscape.
If you would rather stay put in Tokyo, then the Mandarin Oriental Spa will be at your service with its limited Decade Journey package. The special spa treatment, which is part of this package, includes a body scrub using Azuki beans. Valid until April 2016.
Some of Asia’s best chefs live in Tokyo’s kitchens and it makes perfect sense to seek them out. One such person is Yoshihiro Narisawa who whips up French cuisine using the finest Japanese ingredients at his eponymous restaurant. Another is Takashi Saito of Sushi Saito who has a reputation for serving the best sushi in the world at one of the world’s tiniest sushi restaurants.
If you are a Porsche enthusiast, make your way to The Momentum by Porsche, a high-end bistro decked out in race photographs, racing helmets and Porsche books.
A Cup of Tea
Like the onsens and ryokans, teahouses are a significant part of Japanese lifestyle. Yakumo Saryo consists of a restaurant and a tea room set within a garden of plum trees, and its wagashi or azuki bean sweets are said to be one of the best in Tokyo. The restaurant is so loved and exclusive that a seat there is by invite only.
Then there is Sakurai, which offers a five tea-tasting course and one of the most luxurious green teas in Japan, the gyokuro. The owner, Shinya Sakurai, took 12 years to become a tea master and his commitment is reflected in his exquisite tea ceremony.
Japan is home to one of the most jaw-dropping driving trails in the world. Whether you are a sports car enthusiast or not, you need to take a drive on one of these two roads.
The Mikuni Pass is a serene and spirited drive with breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and Lake Yamanaka. This also means crowded viewing spots but there will be a relatively empty patch along the way for drinking in the scenery.
The Hakone Hill Climb is said to be a bucket list item for Japanese drivers as the drifting technique was born on its remote mountain passes. This iconic privately owned toll road is ideal for putting your own driving skills to the test since traffic is minimal and you will be left to your own pace.
Image credit: Tokyo Station Hotel
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