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The best events in Tokyo
Books Kinokuniya Mega Hot Sale 2018
Arguably Tokyo's best-stocked foreign-language bookstore, Books Kinokuniya are bringing in books by the truckload from their warehouse and selling them at a substantial discount. Think 30-60 percent off on pretty much their entire imported selection, from magazines, science books, travel guides, and design books to English, Chinese, French, German and Italian novels, and more... Some restrictions apply, but there's more than enough to choose from. Happy browsing!
Ueno Summer Festival
Ueno's natsu matsuri kicks off for real with a parade down the area's central street on July 21 (from 5.30pm), while the rest of the event period includes happenings like the picturesque toro nagashi ceremony (July 17, from 7pm), in which paper lanterns are floated on Shinobazu Pond. There will be market stalls in the park throughout the four weeks of the festival selling antiques, potted plants and more, while street performances take place at the Bentendo temple in the afternoon on July 22 and 28. Make sure to also check out Ueno Park's open-air stage, where everyone from idols to jazz veterans will be performing almost every day. And if you're looking for a photo op, come on the afternoon of July 17 (from 2.30pm), when ice sculptors will conjure some (doubtless short-lived) works around the stage.
Shinjuku Eisa Festival
Eisa is a dance from Okinawa usually performed to mark the end of the Obon period (an annual Buddhist event to honour one’s ancestors). Like most things Okinawan, it's been enthusiastically embraced by the rest of the country, as demonstrated by this Shinjuku parade. More than 20 eisa dance troupes are expected to take to the streets around the east exit of Shinjuku Station to beat portable taiko drums and twirl their way through the crowds – a boisterous and colourful event to brighten your Saturday. Slap on some sunscreen, grab a handheld fan and get there early: it's guaranteed to be crowded.
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.