Culture Trip’s Wellness Guide to Tokyo brings you a ready collection of travel ideas inspired by what you love. Discover things to do, where to stay and the best spots to eat and drink.Less
Tucked away in Tokyo’s quiet Nerima neighbourhood, you’ll find a more relaxed (and grown-up) onsen. Toshimaen Niwa no Yu has the serenity of a traditional Japanese garden thanks to architect Kenzo Kosugi. Hot tubs and gender-specific soaking pools are built into a lush landscape of thoughtfully placed boulders and thriving flora. There’s also a Finnish-style dry sauna and a mixed-gender pool where everybody can relax together (remember: bathing suits are required in mixed-gender areas).
If you’re looking to escape the pace of the city, head for the tranquil expanse of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park in Okutama, less than two hours from Central Tokyo. Covering more than 1,250sqkm (480sqmi), the national park is home to hiking trails, ancient Shinto shrines and peaks with views that are worth the exertion. Tackle Mount Mitake to experience the unspoiled natural landscape.
Asakusa’s Sensō-ji Temple is one of Japan’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. Besides being aesthetically arresting – think multi-level pagodas, manicured gardens and red chochin lanterns – Sensō-ji is also the oldest temple in Tokyo. Dip into its history with this guided tour led by local experts who know every legend, myth and fact surrounding the site. Afterwards, explore the nearby craft shops and food stalls.
Encouraging mindfulness, gratitude and hospitality, the ancient tea ceremony is a Japanese ritual dating back over 1,000 years. In this immersive tea ceremony experience, Gion-ji Temple’s head priest leads you step by step through the ritual. Begin by boiling water in an iron kettle and whisking matcha, then sip your tea from beautiful ceramics and finish off with wagashi sweets. You’ll leave feeling refreshed, calm and ready to tackle Tokyo.
For a truly traditional culinary experience, head to Komakata Dozeu, a 200-year-old establishment that hasn’t evolved its recipes much since the Edo period. Sit cross-legged on the tatami-mat flooring and, if you’re brave enough, order the restaurant’s signature high-protein dish: dojō nabe. Waitress clad in kimonos will deliver a personal-size charcoal grill to your table, complete with a pot of grey eel-like loaches.
With its slightly out-of-the-way location, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo provides a moment of respite from the city. The stellar spa and the indoor pool are great places to unwind, but the standout feature of this hotel is its spectacular grounds. Stretching almost seven hectares, this area is full of colourful blooms, dainty streams and wildlife. Navigate your way to Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo’s 100-year-old teahouse for a matcha ceremony presided over by a tea master.
For a stylish take on a more traditional Japanese accommodation, try Andon Ryokan, a ryokan inn that blends modern amenities with classic design. A 20-minute walk from historic Asakusa & not far from Ueno station, you’re well situated to explore the sights of the city, before relaxing in the hotel’s Jacuzzi. If you’re keen to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, Andon Ryokan offers cultural activities, including flower arranging, origami workshops, tea ceremonies and calligraphy classes.
Kamogawa Asakusa is a ryokan outfitted with all the customary trappings: tatami flooring, futon beds, personal tea sets and lightweight yukata robes. Enjoy a Japanese breakfast of egg, rice, soup and grilled fish in the morning and a soak in the on-site onsen to wind down before bed. The hotel’s location is another big plus: it’s only a two-minute walk from Kaminarimon Gateway and Sensō-ji Temple (luckily, the crowds clear out before nightfall, making it a peaceful place to rest and recuperate).