48 Hours In Tokyo, Japan
12:00pm—Check in at Aman Tokyo
Like a ryokan in the sky, Aman Tokyo offers the calm charm and authenticity of traditional Japanese bathhouses while inviting the city's electric energy in through soaring floor-to-ceiling windows.
If you're going to splurge on accomodation in Tokyo, there really is no better place to do so.
1:00pm—Wander the Imperial Palace
There's nothing like a blue sky day in Tokyo, best enjoyed as you wander the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Although particularly beautiful with sakura in the spring and with shades of orange and red in the fall, the sprawling site is breathtaking all year round.
3:00pmGrazing in Ginza
Kokyo Gaien National Garden, the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace, is just a stone’s throw from Ginza. If you’ve built up a royal appetite after wandering the palace grounds, make a beeline for Mitsukoshi Ginza’s basement where you can graze your way through the department store's internationally renowned food hall. There's everything from picture perfect pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery to Japanese specialities, including the famous Hakone Akatsukian soba shop where soba is rolled and cut by hand.
Tatler tip: Shop up a storm at the food hall, and bring your selections upstairs to Mitsukoshi Ginza's surprisingly lush and peaceful rooftop for a picnic.
Just around the corner from Mitsukoshi is Dover Street Market, the artistic multi-brand store by Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo, which houses creatively designed concessions for brands ranging from Nike to Prada to Thom Browne. Even if you aren't looking to cop the latest in fashion, it's worth visiting for the gallery-worthy curation alone.
5:00pm—Sunset drinks at Lounge Bar Privé, Palace Hotel Tokyo
Drinks with a view sound pretty good after all that walking. Soak in the city at the chic Lounge Bar Privé, perched on the 6th floor of Palace Hotel Tokyo (a five-minute stroll from Aman Tokyo). The mixologists here play with the seasons, crafting unique Japanese-inspired cocktails such as kumquat & ginger punch and a tangy yuzu mojito.
Come for the drinks, stay for the spectacular view overlooking the Imperial Palace and surrounding skyscrapers.
7:00pm—Dinner at Arva by Aman Tokyo
Chefs Stefano Artosin and Andrea Torre were on to something when they created the concept at Arva, Aman Tokyo's revered Italian restaurant. Now helmed by executive chef Masakazu Hiraki, Arva offers simple yet stunning Italian cuisine made from seasonal Japanese ingredients such as Sagamihara eggs, Yamanashi Nakamura Farm guinea fowl and some of the most exquisite wagyu beef you'll find in the country. All pastas are cooked perfectly al dente—the spaghetti puttanesca, topped with a piece of grilled Japanese mackerel, is to die for.
Serving a creative take on favourites, each dish is wonderfully executed and presented with an acute eye (and taste) for detail.
9:00am—Coffee at Cafe Kitsuné
Rise and grind! Or rather, let someone else do the grinding for you—like fashion house Maison Kitsuné. Coffee culture has strong roots in Tokyo, and while there’s no shortage of cool, quirky or classy cafes, few tick all the boxes like Cafe Kitsuné in Aoyama. Tucked away in a quiet leafy courtyard, it serves perfectly brewed coffee alongside adorable fox-themed pastries.
Designed by acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma, the Nezu Museum's massive, angular roof and clean lines, sprawling Japanese gardens and bamboo tree-lined pathway into the museum are an integral part of the experience. The desisgner separated outside from inside with floor-to-ceiling sheets of glass, allowing visitors to feel connected to the greenery while admiring the museum's collection of Buddhist statues and Japanese art.
Located just off Omotesando, it's steps away from some of Tokyo's best shopping, so take your time and indulge in a leisurely post-museum stroll.
See also: 10 Global Exhibitions To See In 2019
12:30pm—Lunch at Higashi Yama Tokyo
This hidden gem is quintessential Tokyo; unassuming, awe-inspiring yet humble all at once and of course, dedicated to detail. Muted tones of concrete, wood and a light, airy palette adorn the space at Higashi Yama Tokyo, where the open kitchen allows diners to watch as chefs prepare the menu of the day.
The focus here is on washoku—which translates to "food of Japan"—combining traditional Japanese food philosophy with seasonal local ingredients and a playful hint of modern technique.
2:30pm—Head into the future at teamLab Borderless
Because you gotta do it for the 'gram. This wildly popular digital art museum was opened by teamLab, with the help of the Mori Building group, and is a mammoth 10,000sqm sensory treat filled with interactive exhibitions
Wander through teamLab Borderless' many rooms including the iconic Crystal World, an infinity room full of LEDs and mirrors where you can control the color scheme from your smart phone, and the dream-like Forest of Resonating Lamps.
6:00pm—A cocktail degustation at Gen Yamamoto
If you appreciate a good cocktail, I highly recommend paying mixologist Gen Yamamoto a visit. Yamamoto's cosy eight-seater bar is anchored by a beautiful L-shaped broad bar, produced from a 500-year-old Mizunara oak tree. Here, the carefully curated list of original cocktails is an ode to Japan, changing on a regular basis to place emphasis on a selection of strictly seasonal, local ingredients handpicked by Yamamoto himself.
The cocktails can be made a la carte, but most guests opt for the four- or six-course Kaiseki-style tasting menus.
8:30pm—Omakase opulence at Sushi Saito
This three Michelin star restaurant may have opened a branch in Hong Kong, but there's nothing like a visit to the original where Chef Takashi Saito has mad a name for himself as one of the world's most respected sushi chefs.
Along with the Michelin stars, Sushi Saito holds a spot in the Asia's Top 50 Restaurants list, thanks to the chef's fierce dedication to quality; he has dibs on the finest fish that comes through Tsukiji market—where he personally goes to select the fish every morning—and is famously meticulous about the taste, temperature and texture of the rice.
Tatler tip: Make sure to book far in advance, as a seat at Sushi Saito is one of the hardest to reserve in Tokyo.
11:00pm—Night cap at Ginza Music Bar
En route back to Aman Tokyo, make a pit stop at Ginza Music Bar. Run by music producer Shinichi Osawa, this refined hideaway is where guests can enjoy Osawa's 3000+ vinyl record collection with a drink in hand while overlooking Ginza's lively backstreets.
It's an audiophile's dream, boasting a state-of-the-art sound system and a diverse collection of some of the best jazz, soul and rock records on rotation.
9:00am—Breakfast at Ivy Place
One of the few places that's open early enough for breakfast, Ivy Place in Daikanyama is a serene, leafy haven in the heart of one of Tokyo's coolest neighbourhoods. The coffee and breakfast dishes are great, but it's the Japanese-style thick pancakes that steal the show.
10:30am—Geek out at Daikanyama Tsutaya Books
Just a few steps away from Ivy Place is the impressive Daikanyama T-Site by Tsutaya. Lose yourself in the incredible selection of art, photography and design books, and a wonderfully curated magazine selection which includes niche titles not commonly found in commercial book stores.
As well as stocking your personal library, it's a great opportunity to pick up a few last minute gifts before flying home.
12:00pm—Last stop: Ramen Kamuro
You didn't think we'd have you leave Tokyo without a bowl of ramen, did you? Saving one of the best for last, Ramen Kamuro in Ebisu is one of the city's best-kept secrets. It specialises in chicken ramen, diverging from more traditional pork broths. Chewy ramen noodles rest in a wonderfully flavoured yet light chicken broth, topped with farm-fresh veggies and tender, juicy grilled chicken that has been raised chemical-free in Japan.
Despite having opened in late 2016, this humble ramen joint has the charm and expertise one would expect from a shop that's been passed down for generations.
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- PhotographyDRACO WONG