FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

A Feast in Tokyo

by Chadner Navarro

Dec 1, 2017
December 2017

“I CAN’T WAIT TO EAT” seemed to be at the core of everyone’s excitement for our trip to Tokyo. In fact, so strong was our intent to eat our way through one of the world’s greatest cities, we picked our hotels based on their proximity to two exciting culinary hot spots. We wanted to be within walking distance of both Tokyo Station and Tsukiji Fish Market. (We also chose the former because it’s much cheaper and faster to get into Tokyo from Narita Airport via train or bus rather than taxi, so being able to walk to the station became a secondary priority.)

There are so many delicious things you can eat inside a Japanese transportation terminal that my friends and I see Tokyo Station as massive Japanese food court first, transportation hub second. There’s ramen, yakitori and sushi; stands selling takoyaki; and fabulous convenience stores plying all sorts of local candies, cookies, potato chips and other snacks. Because food was the biggest motivation behind this trip, it was only fitting our arrival to Tokyo would be in a place ready to feed us.

As someone who had been here before, I was quite insistent we, strapped with luggage, first head to Daimaru, a department store connected to Tokyo Station. Its 12th floor includes an outpost of an iconic Japanese restaurant chain called Maisen, known for its tonkatsu, or breaded and fried pork cutlets. I wasn’t silly enough to suggest we actually sit down and eat there, as nearly everyone was suffering the physical exhaustion that comes with flying to Japan from the United States. But that’s what makes Tokyo Station so fantastic. You’re most likely going to arrive tired and hungry. The station offers a vast selection of places to eat, most of which will gladly hand you something to go.



At Maisen I cleverly grabbed two orders of its famous tonkatsu sandwich, made up of three elements: Fried cutlets are stuffed between two slices of white bread swiped with a thin layer of tangy katsu sauce. Our hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, lies only a few minutes outside Tokyo Station. I ate sandwich No. 1 soon after we checked in. I ate the second when jet lag unsurprisingly woke me up before 3 a.m. Obviously, this was not my first rodeo.

Mornings after a grueling day of travel to a destination with roughly a half-day time difference can be weird, with your body not really knowing what to do with itself. After a fortifying breakfast of miso soup and rice (when in Rome …), we leisurely toured the verdant gardens of the Imperial Palace on two wheels. The gardens offer more than just exquisitely manicured bonsai trees. As a centuries-old royal residence, it also includes moats, fortification walls and even guardhouses as well as pretty water features topped with curved bridges. The Four Seasons can outfit you with glistening BMW bikes to take in the gardens’ beauty at greater speed. It’s an atmospheric place that pulls in quite a few tourists, but we didn’t want to be there all day. The spa was waiting.

Surrounded by glittering skyscrapers and chichi shopping malls, the smallish Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi (with fewer than 60 rooms) definitely caters to business travelers, so the spa isn’t an expansive port of indulgence. But following a 14-hour flight from the East Coast, who wouldn’t be thrilled to soak in a small but atmospheric indoor onsen-style thermal bath? Onsens, traditional hot spring baths found all over Japan’s volcanic islands, can be quite stunning when located outdoors, with mountains and trees providing the kind of unforgettable setting that makes relaxation all too easy to achieve. We may not have had the transporting natural surrounds this time around, but the serenity of the spa and the just-hotenough waters of the bath were more than enough to soothe our travel-weary bones.



At more than 840 square miles, the city is massive — yet another reason staying adjacent to Tokyo Central is such a genius choice. It makes every neighborhood of this urban sprawl that much more accessible. The network of trains and subways that stop at this station makes commuting effortless. The western neighborhood of Koenji, known for its overflowing vintage and thrift shops, is a brisk ride away. So is Kichijōji, a laidback, bohemian enclave with bustling yokocho alleys housing everything from artisan boutiques, bakeries and beer pubs to a buzzing yakitori hot spot, where we enjoyed dinner one night. Two-floor street food eatery Tetchan recently earned renown thanks to its psychedelic aesthetic, with some of the walls and seats covered in a tie-dye pile of Ethernet cables. We chose to sit at the tightly packed bar, featuring no such whimsy except for the nearly overwhelming din of the chatter of the evening crowd. It seemed we all had an identical agenda: Chow down on perfectly charred meats on a stick and toss back ice-cold Sapporos.

By the time we transferred to the Conrad Tokyo, on the other side of glamorous Ginza from the Four Seasons, more than half our time in the Japanese capital had passed. We had seen plenty and eaten even more, but with still a lot to squeeze into the last couple of days of the trip. A few years ago, Conrad launched the Stay Inspired program, a collection of hand-selected local experiences that help travelers dig a bit deeper into a destination. The experiences are categorized based on how long each activity might take: one hour, three hours or five hours. It’s obviously helpful if you have a limited schedule and are overwhelmed with the breadth of options at your fingertips in a city as vast and ever-changing as Tokyo.

Guests learn to make buckwheat soba noodles at Tsukiji Soba Academy

Guests learn to make buckwheat soba noodles at Tsukiji Soba Academy © TSUKIJI SOBA ACADEMY

The hotel’s website provides detailed descriptions of the experiences, and we found another culinary adventure listed here: a soba-making class. Chef Akila Inoue of the Tsukiji Soba Academy teaches a three-hourlong primer on all things buckwheat noodle. We donned headscarves and aprons and dug deep into our limited reservoir of cooking knowledge and skills to use rolling pins and samurai-style knives, turning dough into edible strands of noodles that would eventually end up floating in a steaming bowl of broth for us to enjoy. It was also in this class some of us learned wasabi doesn’t always come perfectly packaged in plastic tubes but must be made from grating a plant into a paste.

Conrad Tokyo is a 15-minute walk to the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. We ended up missing the legendary early-morning auction, but the spectacle of the market didn’t lose its luster just because we didn’t watch men bid for the world’s finest tuna. To arrive around 6 a.m. still provides a largely unforgettable experience. The market is mostly full of local chefs as well as home cooks picking up an assortment of fish and seafood while the briny scent of the sea wafts all around. The market has become such a bucket-list destination for travelers, some of the vendors gladly hand over small plastic plates of finely sliced tuna drizzled with soy sauce. You may not want to eat this at such an early hour, but I did. After all, delicious discoveries were the purpose of this trip.

Tokyo Info to Go

Two international airports service Tokyo. Narita (NRT) is larger and farther away (it’s not unheard of for the drive into town to require two hours) while Haneda (HND) lies much closer to the heart of the city. Regardless of which airport you use, traffic can be an issue in Tokyo, and taxis are expensive (starting at around $50). There’s usually a surcharge if your flight lands late at night. Trains and buses operate from both airports and cost a fraction of the price of a taxi. The bus from Haneda into Tokyo, for example, should cost about $10 each way, depending on where in Tokyo you’re staying.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

CONRAD TOKYO Sleek, spacious accommodations housed inside a towering skyscraper, Conrad Tokyo delivers views like no other, especially as you sip fine Japanese whiskey from TwentyEight, a bar on the building’s 28th floor. 1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minatoku $$$$$

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT MARUNOUCHI This centrally located boutiquesized hotel boasts a stunning restaurant overlooking the train tracks of Tokyo Central. 1-11-1 Pacific Century Place, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku $$$$$

PARK HYATT TOKYO You won’t find a more iconic hotel in Japan than the Park Hyatt Tokyo, located in the heart of Shinjuku and immortalized in Sofia Coppola’s film Lost in Translation. 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku $$$$$

Restaurants in Tokyo

NICHIGEKKA Book a table at this sprawling restaurant where you can sit at typical tables or traditional low-lying seats while indulging in a seasonally informed kaiseki with dishes like bitter tofu and blowfish. ZOE Ginza 6F, 3-3-1 Ginza $$$$

SUSHI SAITO Book well in advance to secure a seat at this revered three- Michelin-starred sushi mecca. Each piece of fish boasts the perfect texture and temperature, and a hint of vinegar seasons the rice. Ark Hills South Tower 1F, 1-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku $$$$$

TETCHAN Soak in the inimitable atmosphere of Tokyo at this bombastically designed yakitori hangout in the western suburb of Kichijōji. 1-1-2 Honcho, Musashino-shi $$


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions


Insta Feed
Feb 21, 2024

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Reopens After 4 Years of Rebuilding from Bushfires

After almost four years in the planning, design and reconstruction stages, Baillie Lodges’ flagship property, Southern Ocean Lodge on Australia’s Kangaroo Island, reopened late last year after the original hotel was razed during the summer of the 2019/2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires.


There’s more to travel than just getting there.

Feb 20, 2024

Azerai Ke Ga Bay: Secluded Serenity on Vietnam’s Southeastern Coast

Two and a half hours beyond Ho Chi Minh City, via a newly constructed highway, Azerai Ke Ga Bay in Vietnam’s Binh Thuan province opens the gate to a corner of the country waiting to be discovered. The careful planning and sustainable development of Azerai Ke Ga Bay has already made a strong impression as an award-nominated and -winning pioneer of 5-star boutique hospitality in this emerging destination, drawing in an adventurous new generation of affluent international guests.

Feb 20, 2024

Why Queensland, Australia, Should Be on Your 2024 Travel List

Set your sights on Australia this year as Queensland prepares to welcome some neat hotels and experiences in 2024. In fact, it’s easier than ever to reach the region thanks to a new, non-stop American Airlines flight from Dallas (DFW) to Brisbane (BNE) beginning this October.

The Argosaronic Islands Are Calling

The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.

Feb 20, 2024

5 Wellness Experiences with Alila Hotels

Alila Hotels & Resorts, part of Hyatt’s Boundless Collection, offers travelers a series of new, immersive wellness experiences at its properties around the world through its Alila Journeys program.

Feb 16, 2024

Nobu Hotel Marrakech Enters 2024 with a Tapestry of New Experiences

Nobu Hotel Marrakech recently launched new and refreshed experiences for 2024. To kick off the new year, guests can find new spa treatments, wellness activities, a specially curated vegan menu and more.

Travel Tips to Help Protect Your Health and Your Trip

Five Tips to Help Minimize Potential Travel Problems

Feb 16, 2024

Celebrate National Margarita Day with Hilton Cancun Mar Caribe

The resort offers several thoughtfully crafted artisanal cocktails to celebrate National Margarita Day or any day; however, if you can’t make it to Cancún this month, shake up two of Hilton Cancun Mar Caribe’s margaritas at home with these recipes.