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How to Plan the Perfect Weekend in Tokyo
Explore ornate temples, trendy shopping meccas and cutting-edge museums on a trip to remember.
From centuries-old temples to Michelin-starred restaurants and exceptional shopping scenes, Tokyo offers plenty of enticements to pique your interest. (Getty Images)
With its sprawling urban landscape, glittering skyscrapers, sophisticated dining scenes and dynamic mix of storied temples and trendsetting shopping meccas, Tokyo captivates its visitors. From its fascinating historical treasures (think: shrines, temples and the Imperial Palace) to its modern-day allures (from glitzy Ginza with its cutting-edge restaurants and shops to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art), Tokyo offers a wealth of experiences and must-see attractions. For any first-time visitor, the sheer quantity of things to see and do can seem overwhelming. After all, the city boasts more than 160,000 restaurants, arguably the world's most efficient metro system and iconic sites, such as the Meiji Shrine and the Tsukiji Fish Market. If you're ready to experience the best of Tokyo in a quick getaway, consider this your definitive guide.
Where to Stay
Tokyo's top hotels offer striking views, impeccable service, tech-smart amenities and Japanese-inspired design elements. Take The Park Hyatt Tokyo. Even if you don't check-in here, drinks at the trendy New York Bar are a must and the 177 rooms, five restaurants and indoor pool all share stunning city vistas. Two other high-end properties to consider are the Mandarin Oriental with its gleaming tower and kimono-inspired wall patterns and The Ritz-Carlton, which puts guests in the heart of Roppongi and features guest rooms channeling Old World glamour with mahogany desks and oversized armoires. And if you're seeking authentic, upscale Tokyo digs, book a room at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, which was originally designated as Japan's official guest house for high-ranking visitors.
Where to Eat
Traditional Japanese cuisine varies wildly from ramen to yakitori, tempura, oden, gyoza, monja, okonomiyaki, soba, udon and, of course, sushi. While there are plenty of cheap and delicious eats found along bustling city streets, Tokyo is also known for its depachikas (department store food halls) in the Ginza district, which showcase ultra-high-end, gourmet menu items. Beyond its buzzing depachikas and freshly caught seafood varieties at the famed Tsujiki Market, Tokyo also boasts 66 new Michelin-rated restaurants, including Japanese restaurant Miysaka and sushi bar Amamoto, both of which received two stars. And of the 12 restaurants to receive the highest recognition with three Michelin stars, four dining outposts have earned three stars for more than 10 years. Standouts include Ishikawa, Quintessence and Sukiyabashi Jiro (of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" fame). If you're an avid ramen lover, don't skip checking out Hototogisu, and if it's sushi you're craving, follow your taste buds to Sushi Zen.
What to Do
From temples to parks to the awe-inspiring Imperial Palace, there is no shortage of historical and cultural things to do in Japan's buzzing capital city. Start your tour at the Imperial Palace. Afterward, head to the Harajuku District for some serious shopping. In Harajuku, you'll find fashion-forward designs and excellent people-watching. Don't skip checking out Omotesando, a tree-lined boulevard filled with European designer outlets such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. Laforet, a boutique complex featuring innovative, up-to-coming styles is another can't-miss stop for shopping enthusiasts as is Omotesando Hills, a Tadao Ando-designed shopping arcade devoted to high-end fashion.
After indulging your shopping fix, make your way to the Asakusa and catch a glimpse of old-time Tokyo at Asakusa's the storied Sensoji Temple and family-run artisans' shops. And if you're an art enthusiast, head to Mori Art Museum to check out contemporary pieces from local and international artists or visit the Nezu Museum to admire Japanese and Asian art on display, along with a tranquil Japanese garden featuring koi ponds and a teahouse.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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