As the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games draw closer, Tokyo is debuting more exciting ways for tourists to experience the city.
In time for Hanami season, Arigato Japan Food Tourshas launched daytime (two-and-a-half hours, $90 per person) and evening cherry blossom viewing tours (three hours, $115 per person). The daytime tour in Yanaka includes: tastings of tea, saké, and other beverages; special Hanami bento lunch box; local snacks and sweets. The evening tour, along the sakura lined canal in Nakameguro, includes one drink, izakaya restaurant dinner, local snacks and sweets.
In December 2017, Tokyo no Kaba or “Tokyo’s Hippo” a 12-meter-long, 38-passenger amphibious bus, initiated its first tour/cruises around and literally in Tokyo Bay. The 45-minute route, with multilingual commentary, maneuvers around office buildings and entertainment complexes in Odaiba, then into the water and under the expansive Rainbow Bridge.
In the relative shape of a hippopotamus, the bus itself was designed by Eiji Mitooka, designer of the famous luxury “Seven Stars” train in Kyushu. Tours depart from Odaiba’s Aqua City bus terminal seven times daily, except Wednesdays.
Also in December 2017, SCRAP, Japan’s pioneer creator of escape games, opened Tokyo Mystery Circus in a five-story building in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho neighborhood. Billed as the world’s first entertainment facility devoted to escape games, TMC features projection mapping and mind puzzles, where player need logic, stealth, quick thinking, and creativity to defend against a witch’s sorcery; an enemy infiltration; a prison lock-up and more. Prices vary depending upon the number of players and advance purchase versus walk-ins. Games in English include: “Spellbound Supper,” “Real Stealth Game: Secret Agent,” and “Escape from the Prison.”
As the saying goes, “everything old becomes new again.” This is the case with Tokyo’s Dagashi Candy Bars. These retro shops featuring Showa Period (1926-1989) design elements—old-style signs, slat wood door and wall construction, and fixtures—vintage mailboxes, display cases, lamps, baskets, and bicycles, welcome guests with all-you-can-eat dagashi candy for just JPY540 yen! The caveats are: the candy cannot be taken home to eat later, drinks (including alcohol for those of age) and other food are charged standard pricing (avg JPY2000 for dinner) and patrons must give up their seat after two hours.
The latest and largest Dagashi Bar opened in Shinjuku in November 2017. Note, Arigato Japan recently added a food tour in the historic Asakusa area (three hours, $115 per person), which includes an authentic Dagashi Candy Bar still around since the Showa Period. Among the items sold there is a traditional hand-poured and hand-painted candy. The location is one of the last (maybe the last) place making this type of candy in Tokyo.
Finally, for those on a budget Tokyo offers a variety of experiences conducted by Goodwill Volunteer Guides. Locally led explorations range from a day trip to hike Mt. Takao in Tokyo’s Tama ward to fun encounters with the funky, cute kawaii shops and spaces in Harajuku to cultural respites related to craftsmen, gardens, temples and tea, and more. Reservations are required and guests must pay all transportation and admission costs for themselves and the guide.
These are just a few enjoyable and immersive experiences in Tokyo, but there are many more, for every taste and interest. For more information on what you can do in Tokyo to suit your personal flare, visit the Tokyo Convention & Visitors’ Bureau’s website at www.gotokyo.org, and check out Tokyo’s brand site at https://tokyotokyo.jp/ to learn more about the “old and new” city.
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