Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! As mentioned last week, I’m in the middle of Virtuoso’s annual travel week conference (virtually) where I learn all about the latest in the very best of travel. My meetings and seminars have recalled this mantra:
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
I’ll have curated highlights from the conference for you next week. This week, we turn our focus to Japan, specifically Tokyo, as many of us spent the previous two weeks watching the Olympic Games. While I love watching the athletes, I equally love learning about the location. Due to the pandemic, the coverage of Tokyo was light – understandable but unfortunate.
Japan is my post-Olympic dream and at the top of my travel bucket list AKA Wanderlist for 2023. If it’s a dream destination for you, then read on to learn why you should be thinking Japan 2023 like I am (courtesy of my colleagues at Virtuoso).
Japan is most-saved destination on Virtuoso Wanderlist!
Japan wins the ‘most saved’ award on Virtuoso’s Wanderlist platform! Last year, thousands of people logged on to Virtuoso Wanderlist, a new trip-inspiration platform where you browse, save, and share vacation ideas with friends, family, and your travel advisor. The interactive tool lets travelers curate a wish list and plan for the future.
Whether you’re into arts & culture, history, culinary, shopping, or even wellness, Tokyo (and Japan overall) will deliver an incredible experience. As a Wanderlist specialist, I’m uniquely trained to help you curate a highly customized itinerary.
Where to stay in Tokyo
No trip to Japan is complete without time in Tokyo but where to stay is an important decision! Below are two recommendations:
The Tokyo Edition, Toranomon (pictured)
Inspired by Buddhist temples, architect Kengo Kuma designed a central two-story lobby for the NEW 206-room Tokyo Edition, Toranomon. The hotel’s design includes 3 restaurants, featuring a specialty restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking Tokyo Tower. Its location gives guests convenient access to Tokyo’s best attractions.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
With views spanning from the city skyline all the way to Mount Fuji, Park Hyatt Tokyo makes its mark as a memorable home away from home. High above the bustling city, this oasis fills the top 14 floors of the 52-story Shinjuku Park Tower. The sights and sounds of Shinjuku are easily accessible, yet inside your spacious guest room (complete with Internet, personal entertainment center, and deep soaking tub), you’ll enjoy complete serenity. Come evening, see and be seen at the chic New York Grill & Bar, the city’s top venue for lively jazz and breathtaking views.
At both hotels, Hidden Gem Travel guests receive daily breakfast for two and other VIP perks! More info here: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.
What to do in Tokyo – immersive contemporary art
Two examples of amazing immersive contemporary art in Tokyo that appeal to families and adults alike are below:
Explore the Yayoi Kusama Museum
World-renowned contemporary artist, Yayoi Kusama’s museum in Tokyo is a must-see! Immersive experiences are her specialty. Before you find yourself in Japan, you can check out her works at the New York Botanical Gardens which highlights her devotion to nature.
Check Out TeamLab’s Mind-Bending Digital Art
TeamLab Borderless at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum puts Kusama-like playfulness and illusion on digital steroids: The mesmerizing, interactive projections morph into each other, travel through rooms, change according to visitors’ interactions, and are never the same twice.
What to do in Tokyo – food + culture
Take a Sushi Master Class
A bucket list experience for foodies is a private class with a sushi master – and what’s sure to be a delicious lunch. I can arrange this experience for my clients who love to cook and want to impress their friends when they get back home!
Knife-Shop Where the Chefs Do
Aritsugu has honed blades since its days making samurai swords in the 1500s; head to its stall in the Tsukiji Outer Market for a fillet knife – and to nearby Masamoto, a more-than-150-year-old brand, for a carbon-steel chef’s knife with a custom-fit handle.
Experience the essence of modern Japan with a ramen-ya tour of Tokyo
There are more than 7,100 ramen shops in Tokyo. Many only have counters – no chairs or stools and little ambiance. But in Japan, even the humblest meal is revered. Overlooking the country’s modest bowls of soup would be a mistake.
In a way, the noodle soup is the essence of modern Japan – a relatively new cuisine, only becoming popular post-WWII – and it has undergone tremendous experimentation and creative reinvention in the last decade. For travelers, it’s a great introduction to local life and reveals a side of Japan that’s ritualized, but without formalities. Here are five essential ramen-ya (ramen shops) in a variety of styles and locations around the city.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Japanese diners slurp their ramen and prepare to use your chopstick skills. Slurping helps dissipate the heat of the broth clinging to the noodles and lets you eat quickly before the noodles lose their texture. It’s a bit of an art to slurp neatly – many shops have disposable bibs (ask for a yodare kake). And you’ll have to BYO fork if you aren’t adept with chopsticks.
Beyond Tokyo, there are many options for itineraries that will show you the highlights of Japan by land or by water. I work with clients to customize trips that will fulfill their travel dream – and there are so many choices!
An organized tour with a high-quality small tour operator will make your exploration of Japan seamless. As a Hidden Gem Travel client, you are a VIP! Contact me for more information on this tour:
Majestic Japan – 11 DAYS – Be captivated by the beauty and traditions of Japan during this 11-day guided tour. Travel to Kyoto, a cultural hub for the country, where you can bask in the serenity surrounding the iconic Golden Pavilion. See the Giouji Temple — a Buddhist place of worship set amidst a moss-covered forest — and feast on a traditional Kyo-Kaiseki lunch as you watch an apprentice geisha perform beside you. In Tokyo, make decadent sushi rolls using the finest quality fish during a private cooking class before sitting down to a delightful lunch. Then discover the river valley of the Oirase Gorge, walking along its crystal-clear waters while marveling at the amber leaves that surround you. Later, journey to a local brewery for a private sake tasting and behind-the-scenes tour, led by a sake brewmaster.
If you’d prefer a cruise that will take you beyond Japan, below are a couple of options to whet your travel appetite:
Cunard Line guests can climb aboard the Queen Elizabeth in Tokyo for a spectacular 38-night journey around Japan, across the Pacific Ocean, and on to Alaska and Vancouver. Along the way, Queen Elizabeth will make a stop in Busan, South Korea, and give passengers a thrill when she crosses the International Date Line.
Bottom line – there are a plethora of options! Helping you flush out your priorities and make the best decision is a key aspect of the Hidden Gem difference!
Inspired? If you’re intrigued about why you should be thinking Japan 2023 and wanting to brainstorm, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,