As you bring clients to Tokyo or meet your guest hosts in this vast city, you wonder: How do you make them love this experience? How do you make it memorable? How do you navigate the terrain flawlessly?
First, go for comfort. Some things never change — these concerns are universal. Let’s consider the Star Wars saga. It started off intimidating in the world of the unknown and ended, well, with more sequels. This trip to Tokyo will be one of many.
Your journey with business associates in tow can begin with a blast from your past — a trip back to your big-screen experience with the original Star Wars movies — on All Nippon Airways’ R2-D2 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner is always a good bet; add this great photo op with the Star Wars-themed interior and you’re bound to cement any new business relationship for the long haul. This can be bonding, taking the trip down memory lane together as you make your way toward Narita International Airport. Final destination: Shinjuku.
At first blush, Tokyo can overwhelm. Upon arrival at Narita, you will face two choices: The Japan Rail service or the Narita Express. The JR Rail service operates the primary network to Tokyo and beyond, offering passengers the chance to read, work, have a beer, watch the scenery and regroup. Should you choose the Narita Express (located downstairs from customs), this limousine bus service provides direct shuttles to your hotel, is far less crowded and easier to navigate for a first-timer. Information about destinations, train delays and other news is available in English.
Shinjuku offers two great hotel options: The Hilton Tokyo and the Hyatt Regency. Both properties boast highly trained concierge staff to assist you in navigating the city (the concierge in Japan goes above and beyond the call of duty) and plenty of meeting facilities. You’ll notice numerous taxi stands on every corner, conveniently located near your hotel; they are here for a reason: Drivers do not get flagged down. Another phenomenal option, of course, is the Tokyo Metro. The Tokyo Metro, punctual and clean, features attendants who speak English, and you will always arrive at your destination at your scheduled time. Keep in mind the Metro shuts down at midnight.
Always look to your Japanese host for direction. If you are entertaining local bigwigs, they have a list of personal preferences. Defer to them and always follow their lead when making dining or entertainment decisions. In terms of entertaining your colleagues from home, again, ask for some guidance from your Japanese co-workers and your local concierge (especially in the Shinjuku district). The importance of punctuality cannot be stressed enough. It is not uncommon to see businessmen loitering in hotel lobbies waiting for their appointments upstairs.
Business and pleasure go hand in hand in Tokyo. If you catch yourself taking the reins while entertaining, one recommendation is Robot Shinjuku. This highly raved-about cabaret show offers dinner and a unique live entertainment experience that will keep you and your guests talking through the next millennium. Allow yourself enough time for arrival to enjoy the full show. Another go-to you might consider is the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
To keep things simple, you can always find a local noodle bar with your name on it. Many a good deal happens in such establishments. But always speak to your guest hosts or your concierge to pick the right option. Keep in mind: Japanese do not expect you to know their city. They are accommodating and proud to assist you in finding your direction around their home turf.
In almost all cases in Japan, and in Tokyo in particular, you not only have to go with the flow, you have to dive into the rapids. This city looks as if it will engulf you, but it is the easiest big city in Asia to navigate — on all levels — and easier than most American cities. It operates on a new modern grid system, is flush with taxis and offers a state-of-the-art metro system and residents willing to show you the ways of their town. In fact, in Tokyo, the best thing to do when lost is follow the crowd.
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