June 1, 2004
On Tokyo’s Terrain
Home to 12 million residents, metropolitan Tokyo is vast, unruly, and spreads across Japan’s Kanto Plain — one of the world’s most seismically active regions. Once a fishing village, Tokyo is the epicenter of Japan’s economy, where high-tech electronic products, motor vehicles, office machinery, and chemicals are the major industries. Moreover, Tokyo is one of the world’s most expensive cities.
“Everything feels like it costs twice as much as in New York, when converted to dollars,” says Manhattan native Eric Prideaux. The 34-year-old expatriate is a reporter and photographer with The Japan Times — Japan’s English-language daily. Having formerly worked as a reporter with Bloomberg’s Tokyo bureau and The Associated Press, Prideaux’s profession has offered him unique privileges. “These gigs have given me unparalleled access to a culture that even the locals sometimes find difficult to penetrate.” Here, Prideaux offers entrÃ©e into some of the best Tokyo has to offer. For more information, visit blackenterprise.com.
AROUND TOWN : Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo was the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film Lost in Translation. Designed to feel like a private residence, it offers spectacular views of Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji from the top 14 floors of the 52-story Shinjuku Park Tower. (3712 Nishi-Shinjuku; +81-3-5322-1234)
Located across from the American Embassy, the Hotel Okura boasts 858 rooms and its complex offers nearly 40 stores of fine shopping. Prideaux admires its lobby — “vast and sublimely minimalist.” The Imperial Suite costs US$5,500 nightly. (2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku; +81-3-3582-0111)
“Women in kimonos bow to guests as they get on and off the elevators,” explains Prideaux of the Imperial Hotel. Offering traditional Japanese culture and Western-style accommodations, it is a favorite of diplomats. (1-1 Uchisaiwai-cho 1-chome; +81-3-3504-1111)
Adjacent to Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market, Daiwa offers the freshest sushi — and perhaps the most expensive in the city. After 10 a.m., be prepared to stand in line for up to 30 minutes.
Shabu-shabu meals include thin beef slices and vegetables cooked in broth and dipped in sauces. Among the best of such meals are served at Shabu-Zen Restaurant (10-8 Kamiyama-cho).
Roppongi Hills is no ordinary mall. With more than 200 shops and restaurants, leaseholders have to prove their particular product lines are unique to the Tokyo market.
On the Town
Blue Note Tokyo, like its New York counterpart, is nearly 10 years old and has earned a solid reputation for the best jazz in this part of the world. (F5-13-3 Minami Aoyama)
Tokyo’s subway and surface trains are most efficient. Be prepared to get lost, offers Prideaux. “Few people speak English, so add 30 minutes to an hour to your estimated travel time.” Taxis are convenient but expensive. The surcharge can be approximately Â¥660 (US$6.20).
Concerns & currency
Passports are required. U.S. citizens are granted 90-day temporary visitor visas. Contact the U.S. Embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka; +81-3-3224-5000; www.tokyo.usembassy.gov.
At press time, the exchange rate was Â¥108 = US$1.00.