Tokyo hopes for a boost in awareness from its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Japan wants more visitors who don’t wear suits and ties
By Mark Chesnut
Tokyo has long been known as a business destination. But if the city
government has its way, leisure travelers will increasingly consider
it a vacation hot spot.
“The Tokyo metropolitan government
is trying to increase the number of foreign
visitors,” said Yuko Homma of the tourist
promotion department at the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In 2006, the Tokyo CVB traveled to New
York, Chicago, Sydney and Melbourne,
Australia, to produce events to encourage
more visits, and they are considering a similar effort this year.
“That has helped people to know what
Tokyo has to offer,” Homma said. “But Tokyo is still not as popular with leisure travelers as other destinations.”
According to the Japan National Tourist Organization, more than 7. 3 million
foreign visitors arrived in Japan in 2006, a
9% increase over the year before; about 4. 9
million were tourists, a 14% increase over
2005. The number of tourists from the U.S.
increased 1.9% to 38,267.
The city also hope for a boost in awareness from its bid for the 2016 Summer
The International Olympic Committee
will choose a host city in 2009. If Tokyo gets
the Games, the city would build a 100,000-
seat stadium, the largest in the nation, as a
centerpiece for the event.
The Ritz-Carlton is Tokyo’s newest luxury hotel.
Known as a business travel hub,
Tokyo is striving to attract more
ADDRESS: Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-1 Aka-
saka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
RESERVATIONS: (800) 241-3333
RATES: About $526 and up
REVIEW: This 250-room property, which
opened this year, occupies the top nine
floors of the tallest building in Tokyo. It
also has the most expensive presidential
suite in all of Japan, priced at $20,000
per night. Standard guest rooms are am-
ply sized, with stunning views and huge
bathrooms. The large spa and fitness
center is attractive and well equipped.
The hotel lobby’s high ceiling and striking
decor enhance the city views just outside
the window. Its four on-site locations for
dining and drinking make great meeting
places. — M.C.
It’s not as expensive as you think
Homma said that the perception that Tokyo is a pricey destination is incorrect.
“Traveling in Tokyo is not expensive,”
Homma said. “There are luxury places, top
hotels and restaurants, but we also have
Plus, with the U.S. dollar strong against
the Japanese yen, this city is more affordable than in past years, bringing even luxury travel into a more affordable price range
for travelers from the U.S.
Tokyo may have lots to offer in a variety
of price categories, but the developments
making the biggest splash right now are in
the luxury market. The city is in the midst
of a growth spurt that has resulted in several new retail, hotel and cultural complexes.
The Roppongi district, once known primarily for its nightlife, is home to the city’s
biggest new development, Tokyo Midtown,
which opened this year. The 25-acre commercial and residential complex, set on
what was once the home of the Japanese
Defense Agency, now boasts the city’s tallest building, the Midtown Tower; three art
galleries, including the Suntory Museum of
Art; and the Galleria, a mall where visitors
stroll on hardwood floors and shop for the
latest fashions from Restir, J. Lindeberg and
A quick walk from Tokyo Midtown is the
new National Art Center, which opened in
March and exhibits a variety of international contemporary and modern art.
Tokyo Midtown is also home to the city’s
newest and tallest luxury hotel, the 250-
room Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo (see Room Key).
The 314-room Peninsula Tokyo will open
this September in the Marunouchi business
district, and the 204-room Shangri-La Tokyo will open in March 2009.
New tour options
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Bespoke Tokyo’s luxury safari costs just
over $2,000 a day and includes a welcome
package of literature, a hybrid car with
driver, lunch and a memento of the day.
The company’s services are also available
without frills at an hourly rate.
Tokyo-based Elite Japan Travel has added
tour programs, including a tea ceremony, a
flower arranging class and an incense ceremony.
Even traveling to and from Tokyo has
gotten a bit more luxurious, thanks partly
to ongoing upgrades at Narita Airport.
American Airlines has relocated to Narita’s
Terminal 2 this year, allowing for quicker
connection times between American and
airlines in the Oneworld alliance.
With the move, American also unveiled
a spacious, 13,300-square-foot Admirals
The new lounge has two business centers,
free wireless Internet access, shower facilities and a large dining area.
American has also redesigned its first-and business-class menus to offer improved
Japanese-Western fusion cuisine on its Tokyo flights.
For more information about Tokyo, call
the Japan National Tourist Organization
in New York at (212) 757-5640, visit www
. jnto.go.jp or visit the Tokyo Convention &
Visitors Bureau at www.tcvb.or.jp.