You may have visited Tokyo recently but, like many Hongkongers, you might be already planning your next trip there. For many, the key attraction of the metropolis is that it offers a blend of modern culture and traditional heritage which coexist in harmony, together with plenty of trendsetting shopping, dining and entertainment options. You will never run out of things to do and places to go. Here we have selected five new and lesser-known attractions that you might consider covering in your next trip, from an exclusive dinner in a virtual reality (VR) environment, to a leisure ride on the city’s last remaining tram.
Looking for an extraordinary and innovative dining experience? You won’t be disappointed at TREE by NAKED at Yoyogi Park, which opened last July. Created by renowned artist Ryotaro Muramatsu, the restaurant uses VR technology, projection mapping, lights, music and art fixtures to offer diners a multisensory immersive experience that combines food, art and technology under the theme of Scenes of Life. The three-storey restaurant serves dinner sets only with two seatings per day for up to eight persons each. The premium six-course set, paired with a drink and dessert, costs 23,000 yen (US$210) per person.
Opened in February, Henn na Hotel in the bustling district of Ginza became the hotel group’s first hotel staffed by robots. (A second one was opened in March at Maihama near Tokyo Disneyland). The hotel’s team of multilingual robots (including dinosaurs) will greet you upon your arrival and will assist you with check-in and checkout, while the robotic arm at the cloakroom will take care of your luggage. With the use of facial recognition technology, you can enter your room without using the room key. The hotel also uses state-of-the art technologies to offer guests a high degree of comfort. These include the smart air conditioning system, which can draw heat from your body to cool you down, or keep heat from escaping your body when you feel cold.
Why not make a journey back in time on a tram along the Toden Arakawa Line? This is the only remaining section of the city’s once-extensive tram network, which began operation in 1913 until it was shut down in the 1960s to make way for the city’s development. This section was spared and renamed Toden Arakawa Line in 1967. The tram runs from Minowabashi Station to Waseda Station at the north of the city centre, covering 12.2km and 30 stations. The journey takes about 50 minutes, passing through some of the city’s narrow streets and old communities. The tram ticket is 170 yen per journey, and it’s better to get a one-day pass (400 yen) so that you can hop on and off the tram to check out the local neighbourhoods.
Tokyo boasts a number of flea markets for bargain-hunters, but for lovers of local arts and crafts there are better places to go. Handicraft markets are popping up in various part of Japan; and in Tokyo, the Toshima district is becoming popular among locals and visitors. Usually held on the third Sunday of the month, the Zoshigaya Handicraft Market takes place within the courtyard of the Kishimojin Temple. Open from 9am to 4pm, the market attracts about 180 local artists, selling a variety of hand-made crafts, ranging from woodcrafts, leather goods, paintings, pottery, stationery and home decor items, to clothes and accessories such as necklaces and brooches. You can also learn how to make local crafts as workshops are offered by some of the artists. There are also stands selling food, coffee and special drinks. The market is about 5 minutes’ walk from the Zoshigaya Station on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line.
For most visitors, shopping is still high on the agenda while visiting Tokyo. But if you are an outdoor enthusiast and would like to keep track of the latest product trends and designs, the Moripark Outdoor Village on the outskirts of the city is the place to go. Covering an area of 21,000 square metres, this is a low-rise complex set among trees and greenery. While there are only 17 stores, these include all the major brands such as Coleman, Columbia, Mont-bell, Mountain Hard Wear and North Face. You may not find bargains here, but most shops offer modern interiors and spacious environments. Other facilities include restaurants, gyms, yoga studios, a 200m trekking course, a lawn area, and a pond. A landmark of the complex is the 16.5-metre-high climbing wall where you can try out your skills. The complex is about 10 minutes’ walk from the Akishima Station on the JR Chuo line or Ome line, some 60 minutes from the Tokyo station.