All business folk heading to Japan should be equipped with a good stock of business cards and have them readily available. Don’t expect quick decisions in meetings and be prepared to read between the lines as direct answers aren't always forthcoming. There’s a prevalent ‘work hard, play hard’ culture in Tokyo. If you’re lucky you’ll enjoy some of the latter with your new acquaintances, though dinner at a good restaurant is the more likely scenario – be prepared to take the hit on expenses.
There’s no shortage of good business hotels in west Shinjuku, but consider instead the excellent Conrad Tokyo (www.conradtokyo.co.jp), a short walk from the bustling Ginza district in the southeast of the capital city. Located in the modern Shiodome business development, it occupies the top ten floors of a 37-storey building and has plush rooms with great views, particularly on the Tokyo Bay side.
Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world and two of them can be found at the aforementioned Conrad Hotel – China Blue, (www.chinablue.jp) specialising in Cantonese cuisine, and Asia's only Gordon Ramsay restaurant. Both of these will test your expenses budget, so consider searching out a sushi conveyor restaurant (with plates from around £1) or a yakitori establishment (grilled meat and veg on skewers) for a cheaper and altogether more authentic experience.
Travellers doing their pre-trip research will find the Park Hyatt’s New York Bar (www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com) recommended time and again. Aside from the fact Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson shared several drinks here in Lost in Translation, the bar has an impressive cocktail and spirits selection and a reputation for good live music. For something significantly more down to earth, head to the bars of Memory Lane or Golden Gai near Shinjuku station. Alternatively, track down a themed izakaya bar for a truly memorable experience.
Virgin Atlantic, Japan Airlines and ANA all fly daily from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita, while British Airways operates to both Narita and Tokyo Haneda. One-stop options include Air France, Finnair and KLM.
Most international flights arrive at Narita Airport, some 40 miles from central Tokyo. The Narita Express train (www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex) whisks new arrivals to Tokyo Station in around 60 minutes. Airport Limousine Buses (www.limousinebus.co.jp) operate directly to the big hotels across the city and take 90 minutes to two hours. Think twice before jumping in a cab – fixed fares to central Tokyo are around £150.
Japan is currently eight hours ahead of British Summer Time. The currency is the Yen. For more information see www.seejapan.co.uk.
An early morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market is highly recommended but if you want to watch the famous tuna auction you’ll need to get there at dawn. For designer shopping head to Ginza, or check out the Tokyu Hands department stores for a mind-boggling array of household goods and gifts. Never did we think we'd recommend a pedestrian crossing, but the famous 'scramble crossing' and surrounding area in Shibuya is quite a spectacle.
“Credit cards are not as commonly used as in the West and in many cases they’re not accepted in restaurants or shops. Moreover, not every ATM will accept non-Japanese credit cards – your best bet are the international ATMs found in most 7/11 convenience stores”
Avi Lugasi, Windows to Japan