“Japan is a place I’ve always been fascinated with, for as long as I can remember. I’ve been wanting to go forever, and I thought what better time to visit than during cherry blossom season in April,” Dubai-based cultural tastemaker Lubna Mobied tells Savoir Flair of her recent eight-day trip through Tokyo with her husband. From book hunting in Daikenyama, a hip, quaint neighborhood filled with boutiques and cafes, to partaking in traditional tea ceremonies in Happoen Garden, Mobied’s trip is a visual feast of blooming cherry blossoms and wondrous moments that will leave you feeling wide-eyed and inspired.
Discover Mobied’s photos in the gallery, as well as her Tokyo travel notes and tips, below.
Transportation: “Tokyo is huge and there are many taxis available. Despite this, the residents use the subway as their main method of transport. We took the subway everywhere during the day. The system is so efficient and organized, and it was fascinating to observe people going about their daily lives and seeing how they interact with each other. For us, taking the subway was an integral part of our overall experience.”
Accommodation: “If it is your very first time visiting the city, stay central (next to Imperial Palace), as the center of Tokyo is very dynamic and has so much to offer, from food to retail to entertainment. We stayed at the Peninsula Hotel, right opposite the Imperial Palace. The service was amazing and the location was great. It will feel a bit corporate compared to other neighborhoods in the city, but it’s a great home base.”
Bookings: “Tokyo is one of those places where you have to make reservations weeks in advance. So before we traveled, I e-mailed the concierge of our hotel and sent through my itinerary and asked him to book all our restaurant outings and activities on behalf of us. As most people don’t speak English, it is best that the hotel arranges bookings for you. If you want to go to the infamous Jiro, I suggest you start with trying to secure this, as the restaurant is typically booked months in advance.”
Food: “I do love Japanese food, and although I’m not very adventurous, I went with an open mind and tried at least a bite of everything. I realized that Japanese food outside of Japan is basically all fake (spicy tuna makis don’t exist in Tokyo!) If you get to a point where you can no longer stomach raw food, visit one of the many amazing tepanyaki places for incredible meat grilled in front of you. Tokyo has the most Michelin-star restaurants of any city in the world, so it’s worth trying these out as they tend to be extra creative.
Night Life: “The night life is so vibrant! There are endless spots for going out. You will find buildings dedicated to karaoke, and tons of intimate, cozy bars with only eight people allowed in at a time, which is a truly unique experience.”
Traveling Outside of Tokyo: “We only got a chance to go to Hakone, which is the best place to experience the hot springs. We went to a resort called Gora, where you can spend the night surrounded by the most beautiful nature. You truly feel humbled and transported to another era. We decided to do the private bath, a spa, and have an eight-course traditional hakone meal. I can safely say this was one of the most romantic and surreal things I’ve ever experienced.”
“In Japanese, the term ‘sakura’ refers to the cherry blossom trees which famously bloom in April.”
“A shot from Hakone, a small town near Mount Fuji that is famous for its hot springs.”
“Sitting in Happoen Garden, which is famous for having 800-year-old bonsai trees and 50-year-old pond fish.”
“The Tokyo Imperial Palace – the most photographed site in the world.”