By: Marc Atchison
TOKYO - When we reach the landmark Nihonbashi Bridge that crosses Tokyo’s fabled river of the same name, we find ourselves standing in the centre of Japan, literally.
The old (circa 1603) Edo Period bridge, you see, is used as the base point of transportation - Ground Zero - for the entire country and all highway signs use the bridge (a.k.a. The Bridge of Japan) as the measuring stick for distances to Tokyo.
Nihonbashi is also the name of the district in which we’re now standing and it’s one of Japan’s most important - the nation’s financial epicentre that’s home to the Bank of Japan and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Just how important Nihonbashi is is reflected in its name - it’s the only place in the country that uses “Nihon” (the Japanese word for Japan) in its title - “bashi” means bridge.
So it comes as no surprise that such a prestigious area is home to some elite residents, like the city’s best department stores, exquisite artisan (kimonos and fans) shops , Japan’s top corporations and Tokyo’s best hotel, the incredible Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo.
MO Tokyo rises high above Nihonbashi’s diminutive colonial-style buildings like one of the city’s famed towers - the sleek Tokyo Skytree and the Eiffel Tower-like Tokyo Tower, by the way, can be seen from the Mandarin Oriental’s sleek contemporary lobby. On a clear day, the lobby also offers up views of Mount Fuji, and the Imperial Palace Gardens, located just a few blocks away, can always be seen from MO’s lofty position on the top floor of the 38 storey Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.
Once you step inside MO Tokyo you’re instantly dazzled by the level of service and breathtaking panoramic view you get of Japan’s exciting capital.
That’s just the beginning.
The 178 rooms and suites at MO Tokyo are contemporary masterpieces ranging between 50 and 60 square metres of sheer luxury fit for Japan’s Imperial Family. There’s not a bad view in this house and the comfort level one finds in these spacious rooms - beds draped in the finest of linens, bathrooms stuffed with designer label toiletries, every electronic aid you can imagine - is off the charts.
But what really sets MO Tokyo apart from other great properties in this sprawling city are the innovative ideas they’ve brought to the table over the past 10 years.
A perfect example of that is how Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo celebrated its 10th anniversary - the hotel invited the staff of Noma, the world’s No. 1 rated restaurant for the last four years, to take over the kitchen of the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant, Signature, for almost the entire month of January, 2015.
What a way to start the New Year!
However, a stay at MO Tokyo is every bit as appetizing as a meal at Noma.
The restaurants at MO Tokyo have been a key ingredient to the hotel’s success over the past decade. Besides the Michelin-star French Fine Dining offered at Signature, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo boasts one of the city’s hottest and best sushi restaurant, Sora, a great Cantonese dining experience at Sense and some creative Mediterranean cuisine at Ventaglio. The hotel’s other, more casual dining experiences include the Tapas Molecular Bar, K’shiki and the Pizza Bar on the 38th.
Leading up to its 10th anniversary celebrations, MO Tokyo recently reopened its ground floor Gourmet Shop, which offers guests and local residents artisan sweets that are artfully decorated by the hotel’s award-winning executive pastry chef Shuji Muto, who was trained in Paris.
The offerings at the Gournet Shop, ranging from bobka, Eastern European streusel, apple-baked creme pasty and its chocolate bonbon collection made from the world’s finest cocoa, is a sweet introduction to Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo when you walk in off the street.
The perfect way to end a day in Tokyo is to pour yourself a glass of vintage wine in the Mandarin Bar and soak up the nighttime views of what some will argue is Asia’s most beautiful and exciting city.
Or, you can book a treatment at The Spa, another of Mandarin Oriental’s incredible facilities offering guests the ultimate in pleasure. MO, as a chain, is committed to offering its guests the best treatments and therapists and MO Tokyo continues that tradition.
The Spa at MO Tokyo features nine fabulous treatment rooms in which some of the industry’s most talented therapists take guests on a journey of well bring using Asian and Western techniques that stimulate the mind and body.
It’s always hard to select a favourite from Mandarin Oriental’s all-star list of properties around the world but MO Tokyo takes its place among the best because its bridges Tokyo’s past with its present.