Respect the environment in Tokyo with our green guide to the city, taken from travel bible Great Escapes.
Sleep at Yoshimizu
With no telephones, TVs or refrigerators in the rooms, Yoshimizu Inn is the antithesis of the ultraconnected city on its doorstep – but then it is run by a former hippy who used to live at Woodstock in the 1960s. Right in the middle of the upmarket Ginza district, the eleven rooms combine zen simplicity with eco sensibilities, incorporating mud walls (which absorb moisture and odour), bamboo flooring and organic tatami mats. The traditional cuisine served up in the restaurant is organic and homely and before you realize it you’ll have forgotten that you’re in one of the world’s busiest cities.
For rates, reservations and info on getting there see www.yoshimizu.com.
Shop with the original green bag
Several hundred years before the “bag for life” became fashionable in Europe, the Japanese were using the furoshiki. It’s essentially a large square of material, often made of cotton or silk and beautifully patterned, which you open out, put your supplies in, and then tie up using the kind of folding techniques that seem to come more naturally to the Japanese. They’re having a bit of a renaissance in these eco-conscious times, and will cause more of a talking point back home than the latest reusable bag.
Most department stores will stock furoshiki, with simple cotton fabrics selling for as little as ¥300 and pure silk anything up to ¥7500 or more. Try Matsuya in the Ginza district for everything from traditional to modern designs.
Eat organic at Mominoki House
Mominoki takes its organic principles seriously: it has its own farm and offers cooking lessons with the master chef (who is also the owner). The restaurant’s simple, unfussy design makes it clear that nothing is to get in the way of appreciating the food, where dishes such as steamed organic Orara perch, fresh wakame seaweed and king prawn with sea-urchin cream sauce are all washed down with the finest organic sake or shochu.
Mominoki is at 2-18-5 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku; the nearest station is Meiji-jingūmae. For menus and prices see www2.odn.ne.jp/mominoki_house.
Cycle around the city
It may not seem so at first glance but Tokyo is actually fairly bike-friendly, and it’s highly satisfying to slowly free-wheel through the quiet backstreets and meander between serene parks such as Ueno, Yoyogi and Imperial Garden.
One of the best outfits for hire is Cool Bike (www.coolbike.jp), which delivers fold-up bikes to your hotel. You’re allowed to take these on the metro – and if you’re getting on at Shibuya station, you’ll be helping the environment that little bit more, since footplates in the turnstiles harness the energy created by passengers walking over them and convert it into electricity.
For cycle maps and further info on cycling in Tokyo see cycle-tokyo.cycling.jp.