Though the idea of travelling to Tokyo on business may evoke shades of Lost in Translation, short-term visitors shouldn’t feel dissuaded from exploring the Asian megalopolis. Its scale may be huge, but many of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks are conveniently located near to its business districts, and thanks to the city’s top public transportation system, it’s more than possible to tackle these 10 things to do in Tokyo in an hour.
One of the city’s most spacious and best-known public parks, Ueno Park offers a tranquil escape right in the middle of the city. Visitors can explore its historical temples, idle near its ponds, or duck into a museum – Ueno is widely viewed as the cultural heart of the city. The nearby Ameyokocho street market offers one more wandering destination, and a glimpse into frenetic Japanese shopping culture.
Isetan Department Store
Isetan, one of Japan’s leading department stores, hosts a massive flagship in the central Shinjuku ward. Visitors can wander its many floors, observe cutting-edge local fashion, and, when peckish, head to the highly rated in-house food court.
Sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market
The famous Tsukiji Fish Market, site of those frantic tuna auctions, regularly attracts curious tourists. The early morning hours mean it can be difficult for business travellers to stop by, though locals know that Sushi Dai at the Market serves up some of the city’s best and freshest offerings throughout the day.
For years, out-of-towners bemoaned the sorry state of coffee drinking in the Japanese capital, but now the bleary-eyed and jet-lagged have a number of recourses for caffeine. Mojo Coffee, located in Kagurazaka, serves some of the best flat whites in the city.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
The beautiful Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine is a retreat in the heart of Shibuya. Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken, the forested area is constructed of 100,000 trees donated from across Japan. Today it’s a tranquil and solemn spot relished by locals and visitors.
National Museum of Modern Art
Known colloquially as MOMAT, the National Museum of Modern Art is among the world’s top collections of contemporary Japanese art. The extensive museum also includes a gallery dedicated to crafts.
Those who are curious about Sumo can visit the respective museum, which provides an in-depth look into the ancient Japanese tradition. Lucky travellers may also have their trips coincide with top annual tournaments.
The public bathhouse is a Japanese fixture, and Daikoko-yu offers some of the best facilities in Tokyo. The temple-like sento’s relaxing ambiance includes an outdoor rotenburo bath and Japanese garden – perfect for a bit of between-meeting R&R.
Situated within the elegant Shangri-La Tokyo, Nadaman provides a broad survey of haute Japanese cuisine, from shabu shabu to teppanyaki. It’s an ideal venue for a business lunch, though those looking to get more familiar with Japanese food would do well to make a booking.
Bar High Five
Those looking to relax won’t want to miss Ginza’s superlative Bar High Five, helmed by celebrated bartender Hidetsugo Ueno. Offering exceptionally crafted cocktails and the highest levels of Japanese service, a post-meeting drink at the petite bar is a must-do.
Header photo: The blossoming cherry trees in Ueno Park © bluehand, 2013. Used under licence from Shutterstock.com
Have you explored Tokyo on your business travels? What are the most fascinating aspects of Japanese culture that you’ve experienced?
Written by Claire Bullen