By: Ntombenhle Shezi
It is this combination of traditional and futuristic elements that make a city like Tokyo a surreal voyage for the senses. Arriving in the Japanese metropolis, one can conclude that this is the kind of city that constantly defies the imagination. Take for example the use of technology at every turn – from the automated trains to the cutting-edge architecture, and even the electric toilets.
Trying to take in everything that this sprawling city of endless sky-scrappers can be intimidating, but here are some of the highlights that the Kaya team got to experience in-between supporting the Springboks, courtesy of FNB with #WordsofGreatness.
Where to Stay
Located on the waterfront of Tokyo Bay in the midst of clustered skyscrapers and the mouth of the Pacific Ocean, the Intercontinental Tokyo, is nothing short of luxurious. With expansive panoramic views of the whole city. Its elegant design and charming fixtures make this five-star hotel the perfect home away from home. With service that is hard to match.
Where to Eat
Eating your way around Tokyo is a lesson in tradition and shared experiences. Walking around Shibuya, we found a quaint Korean restaurant by pure chance. Oriji restaurant is characterised by sliding doors, low dining table and air vents over each table. All the meals are designed for sharing, and everyone roasts their own meat over a tabletop stove, a truly hands-on experience. Tokyo is the birthplace of sushi, and for that experience, we headed to one of the city’s high-end sushi restaurants known as Seamon in Ginza. Sitting at the long red bar where we had the opportunity to watch three sushi masters making and serving some of the most delectable seafood on the planet. Equally memorable was the artful presentation of the food on beautiful crockery.
Where to Shop
Walking through the electric and neon-bright district of Shibuya is exhilarating to the senses and it will leave you mesmerized. From massive department stores to independent shops and boutiques, Shibuya can be described as a shopping mecca. We couldn’t resist walking across the famous Shibuya crossing, a sprawling intersection just outside the station with thousands of people crossing in a frenzy each day. Looking above we spotted a big billboard of the Springboks situated right above the square. We also got a little history lesson which included the story of the famous Haichiko dog statue landmark, which David O’Sullivan wrote about here.
For a taste of something a little different, and to witness luxury boutiques and fancy storefronts we headed over to one of the capital’s glitziest neighborhoods called Ginza. Ginza is the kind of neighborhood where you are guaranteed to see everything from fashionable high-end labels right off the runway to avant-garde finds. If you don’t plan on buying anything, take a stroll around the blocks and admire the architectural wonders of buildings housing stores like Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
What to Do
One morning, we took the Yurikamome train and found ourselves in Odaiba, one of the most popular destinations on the bay for sightseeing. Some of the landmarks include Japan’s own Statue of Liberty, a replica of the same monument in New York, albeit much smaller in size. The statue was a gift to Japan from France. Fans of Japanese science fiction media will want to stop over at Driver City Plaza, to take images in front of the life-size Gundam statue which is another popular landmark. In the same district, motoring enthusiasts should not miss the Megaweb Toyota City Showcase, a museum, and showroom featuring the evolution of Toyota cars.
The cool crowd can be found in the hip cafés of Daikanyama. The Daikanyama T-site is made up of three interconnected buildings all shaped in a “T” and is home to thousands of books, vintage magazines and music records. The complex also has areas dedicated to movie design, travel, photography and more, which you can browse through while drinking coffee within most modish interiors.
For a bit of reprieve from the high energy of the city, we made our way to Meiji Jingu shrine, just next to Harajuku. The temple was built in honour of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken, who opened Japan up to the West. Watch our video below, when our team took a trip to the shrine to find our more.