we don't have our own tour bus, but here's where we hit the town in tokyo.
» shinagawa prince hotel, inexpensive, (800) 542-8686.
the rooms here are small, but then so is the price. which is noteworthy in a city where decent lodging can cost you a pretty yen. there's nothing small about the rest of the place, however. in fact, the hotel is like a small city, complete with 10-screen cinema, sports center with indoor golf range and tennis courts, and, from a bar/restaurant on the 39th floor, one of the best views in town.
» sofitel tokyo, moderate, (800) 221-4542.
the fact that this japanese link in the french hotel chain is adjacent to ueno park will make you forget you're in a city of some 12 million people. yet it still puts you in close proximity to a host of nightclubs, museums, and other attractions.
» pronto, inexpensive, www.tokyoessentials.com.
there are more than 400 starbucks in japan, but we take our coffee breaks at one of the many outlets of this local chain. come 5:30, they switch from java to japanese beer and present light meals like pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and salads.
» 100 yen, www.tokyoessentials.com.
yikes, your billfold is bare, but you still need trinkets for a handful of family and friends. no worries. just stop into one of the 100 yen stores found in practically every shopping district in town (the one in shibuya rates 5 floors!) and pick up everything from chopsticks to origami paper for around a u.s. buck apiece.
» loic bizel’s shopping tours, www.tokyofashiontour.com.
fancy yourself a fashionista? french businessman loic bizel is touted worldwide as the guy who can guide you through tokyo’s veiled back alleys to find everything trendy. his full-day tour will cost you a whopping $300 per person or couple, but will also leave you with a list of stores that will have you scouring designer racks for days.
» ghibli museum, mitaka, www.ghibli-museum.jp.
whether or not you’re a fan of japanese anime, the ghibli will soon have colorful cartoon characters dancing in your head. even the tickets (fyi: advanced purchase required) have a trio of film frames embedded in them.
» sanrio puroland, sanrio.co.jp/english/spl/spl.html
sanrio.co.jp/english/spl/spl.html. you might think a hello kitty theme park would be just for kids, but we found, among other things, the cirque du soleil-style show (with performers in kitty costumes) quite amusing.