NewsWhistle contributor Norah Lawlor compiles a list of trendsetting and newsworthy items from around the globe.
This week, Norah gives us five reasons to visit Tokyo, Japan.
1. City Views
The Tokyo Skytree, which is approximately twice the height of the Eiffel Tower, is the tallest tower in the world and second tallest structure in the world.
The Skytree has two enclosed observation decks which offer spectacular views over Tokyo. One of the observation decks contains the Tembo Gallery. Dubbed “the world’s highest skywalk”, the Tembo Gallery consists of a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. It allows visitors to look over the Kanto Region to spectacular distances. You can also enjoy a sky-high meal at the Musashi Sky Restaurant, which serves French-Japanese fusion cuisine.
Another fantastic option is the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, a 54-story high skyscraper that houses companies like Google Japan, Pokemon, and The Mori Art Museum. The gorgeous observation deck offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city skyline, and the Sky Deck/helicopter pad on the roof of the building is the only open-air observation deck in the city.
Or you can live like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation and stay at the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Shinjuku Park Tower, where the 2003 hit film was set. The Hotel is an elegant oasis of space and calm overlooking Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji.
2. Sukiyabashi Jiro Restaurant
The famed three-star Micheln restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo is owned and operated by sushi master Jiro Ono, who became internationally known after the 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
The fascinating documentary by David Gelb, which showed at Tribeca Film Festival and is available to stream on Netflix now, follows 85-year-old Jiro Ono as he follows his quest to perfect the art of sushi. It also profiles his two sons, both of whom are sushi chefs.
The restaurant is located inauspiciously in a Tokyo subway station and only has seats for 10 diners at a time. It is so popular that international travelers have made it a destination and the waiting list is booked months in advance.
Chef Ono serves a tasting menu of roughly 20 course for a total of 30,000 Japanese Yen (just under US $300).
For more information visit http://www.sushi-jiro.jp/eng-index.html
3. Japanese Grand Prix 2014 (Sun, 5 October, 2014)
Round 15 of the 2014 Formula One World Championship takes the drivers to Suzuka this weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix, held at the famous Suzuka Circuit, which is close to the town of Nagoya, 2.5 hours’ drive away from Tokyo.
Suzuka is one of the most revered circuits in the world; it’s a race track which only the best drivers succeed, which may explain why 18 of the last 19 grand prix at the track have been won by world champions. The circuit was originally built by Honda in the sixties to test their bikes and cars and is still owned by the company today.
This year, Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver to take part in a Formula One weekend when he drives for Toro Rosso at Suzuka after his 17th birthday. The Dutch youngster, who is the son of the former F1 driver Jos, will drive Jean-Éric Vergne’s car in the first practice session at Suzuka.
In the host city of Suzuka, this is also plenty to do. You can jump on the thrilling roller coasters that give a great view of the circuit and the sea, and there’s plenty of excellent restaurants with local cuisine to try.
For more information visit http://www.formula1.com/races/
4. The 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival (Thurs, Oct. 23 to Fri, Oct. 31, 2014)
The 27th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) will run at Roppongi Hills and other central Tokyo venues.
TFF started in 1985 has since grown to become one of the leading film festivals in Asia, as the only one accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).
This year, a 21-movie lineup has been announced for its special screenings section, including The Expendables 3; Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s documentary about the The New York Review of Books, The 50 Year Argument; and The Cathedrals of Culture documentary series, with episodes from Robert Redford and Wim Wenders.
Although the Tokyo festival will only have this one Japanese film in competition, Pale Moon (video clip above), it has been aiming to promote more local films through programs such as this year’s focus on Japanese animation. TIFF has also unveiled a seven-year initiative to promote Asian films and nurture Asian film professionals.
For more information visit http://2014.tiff-jp.net/en/
5. Sumo wrestling
Tokyo has three grand tournaments for sumo wrestling, which take place over 15 days in January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. The world’s best square off in thrilling matches that can be as short as five seconds.
If you don’t happen to be in Japan during one of these tournaments, try experiencing it on American soil instead. The US Sumo Open at Long Beach in Southern California has grown to become the largest amateur sumo competition outside of Japan. Seventy men and 15 women from more than a dozen countries compete at the Walter Pyramid at California State University. This year’s championship will be broadcast as a two-hour special on the Universal Sports Network on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.
For more information visit http://www.usasumo.com/
Norah Lawlor is a New York based global trend and travel observer in addition to being the founder and owner of Public Relations strategy firm Lawlor Media Group.