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Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop
Want to dive deeper into Japanese culture? This dance workshop is the perfect place to start, where you'll be fitted in a yukata and taught how to dance Nihon buyo, a traditional kind of dance that has a history of nearly 400 years. The workshop is free and takes place at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center every Sunday, excluding some specific dates during other holidays.
Museum of Bad Art
Gallery AaMo in Tokyo Dome City is setting up a very strange exhibition this year: the Museum of Bad Art. No, this isn't a collection of kindergarten finger-painting, but a serious (okay, not that serious) collection of the 'very best bad art' – art that's 'too bad to be ignored.' This special exhibit comes from a collection at the Museum of Bad Art in Boston where their tag line is 'The world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms'. Each piece is the collection has a weird charm to it – obviously bad but totally engaging, forcing the viewer's attention as they try to work out why this work is so bad. For some it's the subject, for others it's the drawing style. You really just have to see it to understand. Prepare to be amazed that a museum devoted to the exclusive purveyance of crappy art could be so delightful and engrossing.
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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.