Top events in Tokyo right now
Mt Takao Maple Festival
Various happenings will be taking place around Mount Takao in November, including kokeshi doll demonstrations and sales of masuzake, the curious boxed beverage (on weekends and holidays). The main attraction is of course the autumn foliage, with the maple trees around the area turning fiery red and yellow. Primary event locations include the Takao Forest Center at the foot of the mountain, Kiyotaki Station and the Ju-Itchome tea house on the hillside. Check out the official website for further details, and consider heading over by train – finding parking here can be a nightmare.
Rubens and the Birth of the Baroque
Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is widely known for his dramatic, highly charged paintings featuring Christian history and allegorical subjects. His unique style showcases a masterful handling of movement, colour and sensuality, and it has come to define the 17th century Baroque period in European art. You can get an up close look at his famous pieces at this exhibition, which brings together one of the largest displays of his works. There’s a particular focus on his relationship with Italy, where he lived intermittently for about eight years. And to add context, you’ll also find a selection of works by Italian artists of the same era.
KYOTOGRAPHIE is a highly-acclaimed international photography festival held annually in Kyoto and for the first time, it’s organising an offshoot event in Tokyo. For this special Tokyo edition, the most popular works from KYOTOGRAPHIE 2018 (the sixth year of the festival) will be exhibited in Tokyo. Expect sensational works by the late Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase who’s widely known for images depicting his domestic married life; celebrated French graphic designer-photographer Jean-Paul Goude; and contemporary Chinese photographer Liu Colin, who incorporates camouflage tricks into his arresting visuals. Catch the exhibitions at multiple locations, such as Fuji Film Square, Chanel Nexus Hall, and the Institut français du Japon.
World's first official Harry Potter café opens Friday
Test out your wizarding skills at this limited-time Wizarding World Café, coming to both Tokyo and Fukuoka this month. There aren't many details available on the magical café just yet, but expect the decor and food menu to be inspired by the Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter franchise, plus a showing of unreleased movie clips and photos. Word has it that there will be three distinct themed areas and the café will look like a set in Paris as the French city is a key location in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film. Don't worry if you're not a wizard; we are sure muggles are welcome here. This is the world's first official Harry Potter café and it's opening just in time for the release of the latest flick, 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'. Last we checked, the café is already booking out fast – so make your reservations here as soon as possible.
Hotel Chinzanso Autumn Garden Lightup
The opulent Hotel Chinzanso in Mejiro opens up its gorgeously decorated garden during the autumn leaves season, lighting up the lush grounds at night to produce one of the city's most beautiful foliage shows. Head over a little bit later in the evening if you want to escape the crowds – the garden stays open until 10pm.
Yebisu Garden Place Winter Illumination
An annual wintertime display at Yebisu Garden Place, this one incorporates a Baccarat chandelier that's 5m tall and 3m wide – making it one of the largest chandeliers in the world – and decorated with 250 lights, 230 of which symbolise the number of years from the company’s establishment to the construction of the chandelier in 1994. In total – including lesser displays in areas such as the Entrance Pavilion, Clock Plaza, Promenade, Center Plaza and Glass Square – the venue makes use of almost 100,000 lights. The festivities are kicked off with a lighting ceremony on November 3.
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Where to stay in Tokyo
Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Though it shares a celebrity buzz with its sister hotel the Park Hyatt, the effortlessly sleek Grand is pleasingly low-key. Its location in the upmarket Roppongi Hills complex might not suit those who like their Tokyo served straight up, but by the same token it provides a restful retreat. And having high-end shops and restaurants, a 53-floor panorama and world-class art on your doorstep can be considered quite an amenity. As is the Nagomi spa (though there’s a charge for guests) which, in addition to the usual list of artful treatments, has a lap pool, steam and sauna and a luminous white jacuzzi. Though not flashy, the guest rooms are extremely comfortable and well thought out, with dimmable lights, Bose stereos and free high-speed internet, and a tub you could park your car in. A 10th anniversary renovation has added Oxford chairs, original washi paper artwork and Bluetooth connectivity to the amenities.
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Focusing not just on Tokyo, but on the historic Nihonbashi area in which it sits, the Mandarin is the antidote to that feeling that luxury hotels are the same the world over. Many of the materials are sourced from local artisans. The lobby and rooms all hint at traditional Japanese motifs, from the torii shrine gates and washi paper lanterns to the woven fabrics that hang in place of paintings. The view from the rooms trumps most of its top-end rivals, with a mosaic of lights from the business district in the foreground, and Mt Fuji straight ahead.
Just when it was starting to feel that Tokyo ryokans were on the verge of extinction, along came a major new player. Opened in July 2016, Hoshinoya Tokyo is one of the capital's very few luxury ryokans – and it's located in central Otemachi, just a short walk from Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace. The 19-storey (including two underground floors) building houses tatami-floored suites, as well as a spa, Japanese restaurant and conference facilities, while offering the same standard of service that's earned awards for its sister resorts in places including Karuizawa and Kyoto. Given the lack of similar establishments in the city, it promises to present a serious challenge to Tokyo's glut of luxury hotels, though a night's stay sure doesn't come cheap here. Check out more photos and information on our blog.
The Hyatt group’s lifestyle brand Andaz opened its frst Tokyo hotel on the top of the 52-storey Toranomon Hills complex in June 2014. The hotel houses 164 guestrooms, a partially open-air rooftop bar, and a whopping 50m2 guestroom, the largest of its kind in Tokyo. To allow guests to enjoy their own style of stay, the Andaz Hosts, who take on the traditional roles of doormen, receptionists and concierges, are there to assist in any way. To make you feel more at home, they don’t wear black uniforms or name tags and will engage with guests to provide the best recommendations and suggestions for exploring Tokyo like a local.