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The best events in Tokyo
Resonating Trees in Ginza Six Garden
If you're having trouble getting into the fancy teamLab Borderless museum this summer, don't worry: you can get a feel for the 'ultra-technologist' work on Ginza Six's rooftop. These 'resonating trees' change colour when you walk past them and emit a specific tone, which is different for every tree. Best of all, it's absolutely free – who said entertainment in Ginza had to be expensive?
Kiyose Sunflower Festival
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and dive into a sea of yellow at Kiyose Sunflower Festival. Every summer a wheat farm on the outskirts of Tokyo turns into a magnificent sunflower field. The 100,000 sunny blooms here aren’t the only attraction as local farmers will also be selling fresh produce on site. Get ready to flood your Instagram feed with these towering beauties or indulge your inner Van Gogh and take a sketchpad and pencils, but bear in mind that your shoes might not emerge from Kiyose mud-free.
Raien Sumo Experience
Ever fancied yourself a sumo wrestler? You can try Japan's national sport for yourself at this tourist-friendly ʻdohyoʼ (ring) in Mitaka, where sumo newbies are taught the basic tricks of the trade – and with no fake sumo suit in sight. What's more, women are actually allowed in the ring here, contrary to professional sumo traditions. Equipment rental is included in the ¥9,500 fee (¥4,800 for children under 16), and all participants receive a short video of their efforts plus a card with a sumo-style handprint.
Star Wars In Concert
After well-received performances in the UK and North America, orchestral extravaganza Star Wars In Concert makes its way to Japan again, complete with enormous cinema screens and laser lighting. Mark Watters conducts the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in a show that draws on John Williams' scores from throughout the series, running in chronological order from Episode IV: A New Hope to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and accompanied by clips from the films. Yes, the force will be with you here.
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.