Tokyo has been a city I wanted to visit for so so long! Luckily, since Diogo and I were in Paris and having direct round-trip flights Paris/Tokyo, we decided to arrange a quick trip of 5 days and visit this frenetic city!
Before boarding we went to the business lounge to take a shower (yes you can take a shower in the CDG Star Alliance lounge) in order to get ready for our overnight flight to Tokyo.
The cultural immersion started right from the beginning: we decided to fly onboard of Japan’s largest Airline ANA for the very first time and we have to admit we really enjoyed their business class!
In fact, and unlike many other companies, ANA provides a thin mattress to put on your seat once it is in the horizontal position so you have a more pleasing sleep experience – usually only a blanket and pillow are provided.
We were welcomed with a glass of Champagne (which, as French, I truly appreciate), after 1 hour in the air, we got served a delicious meal while we were watching a movie. After dinner, we put the seat in horizontal (like a mattress) and spent the next 8 hours sleeping comfortably.
When we woke up, we took our breakfast and we were ready to land!
It was the fastest 12 hours I have ever spent on a plane!
We decided to divide our stay between 2 different type of hotels: a traditional high-end ryokan – the famous Hoshinoya Tokyo (for 2 nights); and a ultra modern property, the Andaz Tokyo for other 2 nights.
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL
When we arrived at Hoshinoya Tokyo around 4 PM, we were invited to remove our shoes as it is a shoe less hotel. In fact, in Japan, everyone removes their shoes when entering in a house, so we gladly removed them!
We were escorted to our room which was the biggest suite of the hotel, see pictures below:
The hotel only serves breakfast in-room for a maximum of comfort and privacy – which we loved it! They also have a complimentary public lounge in each floor, open 24 hours if you are feeling like drinking some matcha or eating some noodles at 4 am (like I did!).
Hoshinoya is not an ordinary hotel, is a totally unique Japanese experience and cultural immersion! From the welcoming and detail-oriented service, to the well-thought design, Hoshinoya Tokyo captivated all my senses.
If it’s your very first time in Tokyo or in Japan, then Hoshinoya Tokyo is an absolute Must!
After checking, we went to the SAKE Lounge to taste fine Japanese wines and premium sakes (the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage) while enjoying a Grand Kagura performance.
For dinner, we went to meet Kanda, the 3 Michelin-star chef which cooked some traditional sushi and soup for us. He is a total legend in Japan! So If you enjoy a fine Japanese experience, then Kanda is a must try!
Below is what we did during our stay in Tokyo and we definitely recommend you to replicate it if you are staying for at least 3 full days in the city (minimum 4 nights recommended) for a complete cultural immersion both in terms of food, drinks, Art, shopping, history and sightseeing:
=> Get amazing photos wearing a traditional Kimono and walking around the 157 years old gardens of the Hotel Chinzanso, right in the heart of the city.
This is a total must for any person in Tokyo! Trying on a traditional Kimono is a one of a kind experience to blend in the beautiful gardens.
=> Have lunch at the exclusive Azuma-Ya all by yourself and finalize your meal with a traditional Matcha tea ritual. Reservation mandatory.
If there is one thing Tokyo is known for is for its incredible food! In fact, Tokyo has more Michelin-star restaurants than Paris! Quite impressive right? You will find that many Michelin-star restaurants in Tokyo can only allocate 6-8 persons as they are very small and modest spaces! But when it comes to the quality of the food, it’s from another level!
=> Have a traditional tea ceremony wearing a kimono at Hoshinoya Tokyo and learn how to make matcha!
I have always loved matcha tea! It’s in fact my favorite drink ever! At the Hoshinoya Tokyo, you can enjoy a private traditional ceremony where you will see how to prepare matcha and you can even prepare one cup yourself!
=> Enjoy the amazing hot spring on the rooftop at Hoshinoya Tokyo.
Hoshinoya Tokyo is already quite special on itself, but you can’t miss out their amazing hot spring on the last floor for a relaxing experience! There is no ceiling, so you can even watch the stars while chilling! As you will need to go naked in the water, the hot spring experience is separated by gender: one area for women and another for men.
Another incredible experience at the Hoshinoya Tokyo includes the tasting of their fine-dining 8 course menu! Each dish is an expression of Art and designed to stimulate even the pickiest palates.
As in many other fine-dining restaurants in Tokyo, the Hoshinoya Tokyo dining restaurant is only composed by private dining rooms so you have full privacy guaranteed!
=> Do some shopping and bring a souvenir from Mikimoto – the renewed Japanese fine pearl jewelry.
Walking around Ginza you will find many high-end shops, but there is one in particularly that worth to visit: Mikimoto – the renewed Japanese fine pearl jewelry. You will find elegant set of pearls in every size and colors which is a perfect souvenir for a special one. Below is a classic set of earrings and necklace which is very versatile, both for the day or evening.
=> Visit the Oil Gallery of Nichido followed by their Contemporary Art Gallery.
If you fancy Art & Culture, then you will be delighted to visit Nichido Galerie, also located in Ginza, it’s the first gallery specialized in the Western-style oil painting in Japan holding a large assortment of works by Japanese masters and emerging artists. We also visited the contemporary one located in Chuo-ku.
=> Have lunch at the ultra-exclusive 2 Michelin-stars Japanese Restaurant OKAMOTO in Minato-ku.
After a great morning visiting Mikimoto and Nichido Galleries, we headed to a simple and modest restaurant called OKAMOTO yet this place is A true Hidden Gem you don’t want to miss! The two Michelin-star chef will cook front of you.
=> Visit a traditional Tsuzura atelier
We had the opportunity to visit a craftsman in his atelier painting a “Tsuzura” – a Japanese Antique Basket Box used to store kimonos and other garments. If there is one thing you will particularly notice in Tokyo is the contrasts between the modern skyscrapers and the authentic and traditional hidden gems like this one.
=> Walk around the high-end neighborhood of Ginza and Omotesando – perfect to take some amazing street shots with their modern and bold architectures.
There is nothing better to walk in the streets of Tokyo in order to get a sense of this frenetic city! Don’t be scared to walk some miles and visually absorb all the wonders this city has to offer! Diogo and I walked around the neighborhoods of Ginza known for its fashion high-end streets and Ometesando, known for its bold and modern buildings. The first picture was taken front of the Tokyu Plaza building in Omotesando, the second and last one in the streets of Ginza and the third one front of the Kabuki-za Theater, also located in Ginza. I love specially the fusion between the modern and ancient that you will feel thru walking around these areas.
=> Check-in at the Andaz Hotel, have dinner with a view at their restaurant and get some drinks on their amazing rooftop!
We checked quite late after a full day visiting Tokyo but once we arrived at the Andaz Hotel, we couldn’t not fall in love with the view! The strongest point of this hotel, among its swimming pool and modern design, it’s the incredible panoramic view you get from your room, the restaurants, the lounge and on their amazing rooftop! Below is the view we had from our room, yes – it’s the Tokyo tower! How cool is that? If you are interested in a great modern hotel in the city center, then this is the perfect choice for your stay in Tokyo!
=> Visit one of the oldest museums in Tokyo: the Nezu Museum and their gardens.
The museum was founded in 1860, being one of the oldest in Tokyo, it also has an incredible and mystical garden that worth the go.
=> Get the most amazing shots at the digital museum TeamLab Experience
One of the coolest place to hangout in Tokyo, this is a totally Instagram-worthy place! Be ready to spend 2 hours or more there as this digital museum has quite a lot to visit.
=> Have lunch near the Tokyo Tower, at Tofuya Ukai, a restaurant specialized in tofu cuisine.
This is such a special place! You can’t go to Tokyo and not try this unique place! You will be assigned a private dining room just for you and your guests (you will obviously have to remove your shoes before), your waiter will come to serve your dishes and your sake discreetly. It was one of the most pleasant lunch I have ever had, I truly appreciate the respect for privacy in the Japanese culture. Many high-end restaurants have private dining rooms or only accept 1 group of guests at each time.
=> Visit the traditional area of Asakusa and the most ancient buddhist temple in Tokyo: Sensō-ji Temple
This is the most traditional area of Tokyo where you will find plenty of traditional souvenirs to bring back home including Maneki Neko cats which brings luck to its owners. We also walked thru the market and stopped at the most ancient buddhist temple in Tokyo: Sensō-ji Temple, which definitely worth to visit.
=> Try some Michelin-star Japanese tempura at the Tempura Kondo restaurant.
Another speciality in Japan is tempura dishes! Get ready for an entire degustation at Tempura Kondo in Ginza. You can pick either a normal degustation menu which includes fish or a vegetarian one – always good to know!
Time to say goodbye to Tokyo and fly back to Europe onboard of ANA, the biggest Japanese Airline.
We loved Tokyo so much! We only hope we can come back soon and discover further this incredible city and other parts of Japan.