In its latest round of openings, the forward-thinking Japanese capital reinterprets long-standing tradition with its characteristic subtlety and style.
Anyone who has stayed at Hoshinoyaâ€™s Kyoto and Karuizawa properties will know that the brand excels at providing a traditional ryokan experience with the comforts of a modern world-class hotel. Likewise, recent arrival Hoshinoya Tokyo offers the same degree of classical refinement, with shoji sliding doors, soft tatami matting on every walkable surface, and even an onsen.
Flanked by the Akasaka and Imperial palaces, the superbly located Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho opened in July with 250 rooms in the uppermost floors of the Garden Terrace Tower, not to mention amenities including a pool and gym that both offer panoramic views of the metropolis. Take the time to enjoy a drink at the Sky Gallery Lounge Levita while marveling at the Tokyo cityscape through its double-height glass wall.
Since welcoming its first patrons last summer, French fusion restaurant AbysseÂ has scooped a Michelin star for young chef Kotaro Meguroâ€™s impressive flair with seafood. The menu focuses exclusively on Japanâ€™s marine bounty, although Meguro is not loathe to use chicken stock in his recipes. The standouts are grilled takoyaki-inspired lobster bisque, and seven-fish soupe de poisson infused with lobster, spices, and orange.
Thereâ€™s no guesses for the man behind Hugo Desnoyer, which welcomed its first branch outside Paris in Tokyoâ€™s Ebisu neighborhood last November. As expected, it is the French celebrity butcherâ€™s signature steaks and beef tartare that have set tongues wagging, and the setting is refreshingly informal, from the cowhide-draped chairs to the counter at the open kitchen where diners choose from a selection of raw steaks.
While themed concept bars are a dime a dozen in Tokyo, The Iron Fairies cocktail bar is one of the hottest new nightspots on the Ginza scene. Designed by blacksmith and artist Ashley Sutton, the creator of Maggie Chooâ€™s in Bangkok and Ophelia in Hong Kong, the decor is ethereal rather than kitsch. The drinks however, are what bring the customers back: mixologist Carson Quinnâ€™s whimsically named elixirs such as Heaven Lonely Flows are both creative and delicious.
The exclusive Ginza area saw the debut of two new shopping centers this year, both featuring cutting-edge architecture in a quarter already studded with gems from the likes of Renzo Piano, Kenzo Tange, and Shigeru Ban. Designed by Klein Dytham, the firm also responsible for Tsutayaâ€™s airy bookstore Daikanyama T-Site, Ginza PlaceÂ offers a wide range of luxury retail outlets behind a latticed white facade.
Just down Harumi-dori avenue, Tokyu Plaza GinzaÂ recreates the aesthetic of Edo-kiriko glass. It has 125 high-end shops as well as the largest duty-free store in Tokyo. Both the stunning glass-walled atrium and the rooftop terrace offer sweeping views and a pleasant place to relax.
One of the most anticipated openings on the cultural front is the Sumida Hokusai MuseumÂ which opensÂ in November. Dedicated to the master woodblock carver, Katsushika Hokusai, the museum is located in his birthplace of Kamezawa, near Kokugikan sumo stadium and the must-see Edo-Tokyo museum. Best known for his iconic Great Wave of Kanagawa woodblock print, Hokusaiâ€™s subjects also range from Edo-era beauties to wildlife, while his manga is considered the forerunner of modern-day Japanese comics.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śCity Guides: Tokyoâ€ť).