Luxury Escapes: The World’s Best Holidays TV show is back for another season on Saturdays at 6pm on Channel Ten. This time we’ll be taking you even deeper into some of your favourite destinations to discover the food, culture, hotels and locals in places like Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Africa, Paris, Bali and beyond.
Episode one took you to Japan where Shane Jolley sampled whisky, dined in one of the world’s best restaurants, stayed at five-star Hilton hotels, met a master swordsmith and even explored the streets dressed like Batman. If you missed it, here are just some of the highlights.
Shane touched down in vibrant Tokyo where he headed straight for the action at the famous Shibuya crossing, where as many as 2,500 pedestrians cross every time the signal changes. As one of the most populated regions of the world, Tokyo is a melting pot of cultures and maintains its Japanese traditions while embracing the new.
Shane checked into the iconic Hilton Tokyo in the heart of the city. The ideal base for experiencing modern Japan, Hilton Tokyo is located in Shinjuku – known as the heart of Tokyo’s business, shopping and entertainment district. From the hotel, guests can easily explore nearby attractions including colourful Harajuku, Ginza, Akihabara and the famous Tokyo Skytree, shop up a storm at the hundreds of nearby shops or experience the nightlife of Kabushiki (home to the world-famous Robot Restaurant and Golden Gai).
The Hilton Tokyo is known around the city for its decadent dessert buffet held in the hotel’s Marble Lounge. Every afternoon, a line of sweet-toothed guests queue up to experience the seemingly never-ending spread of cakes and treats created by the pastry chef and his team. Thomas Jackobi from the Hilton Tokyo described the swarms of people visiting the buffet as ‘normal chaos’ while Shane eyed up a slice of sugary rainbow cake.
Check out the Luxury Escapes offer at the Hilton Tokyo here.
Hilton Tokyo is warmly accepting of American Express
Shane visited the Janice Wong Dessert Bar and met the lady herself. Originally from Singapore, Wong decided to bring her artistic desserts to the people of Tokyo as she knew Japan, with its love of innovation, was the perfect place to expand her dessert bar business.
Known worldwide for creating pieces of art on a plate, Wong says her desserts are all about happiness and having fun. Shane joined Janice in the lab to watch her make her edible coral which she will present at an exhibition in Osaka. The coral will be lit from below making for a spectacular show of colour.
Next, Shane was introduced to one of Wong’s latest creations, her edible crayons. Created for both big kids and little kids, these edible crayons allow food lovers to create their own piece of artwork and Shane got to taste the green mango chocolate flavour.
Japan is known for being a place a little left of centre. MariCar go-karting offers street cart tours where guests can live out their fantasy of driving a go-kart around the streets of Shibuya dressed as their favourite character with, of course, Mario and Luigi being most popular with tourists.
Embracing his inner child, Shane dressed up as Batman and joined Spiderman, Ironman and Superman for a street tour to remember. About the experience, Shane says “This has to be one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done in my life. If you ever get the opportunity to do this, I can’t recommend it highly enough”.
The other side of Japan’s fascinating culture can be found in more traditional forms. Swordsmithing is an art that takes years to perfect and in suburban Toyko, Yoshindo Yoshihara – a 13th generation blacksmith – and his team of apprentices are keeping this craft alive.
Sword specialist Paul Martin tells Shane “They’re a beautiful art object and they’re an object of spiritual significance for your own spiritual protection”.
There are only 50 practising swordsmiths like Yoshindo and each produces on average just ten swords a year, making them a highly prized possession in Japan and overseas. Yoshindo says that the swords are, “a most precious treasure to the gods of Japan and the emperor of the imperial family”.
An onsen is a Japanese hot spring that offers bathing in a zen-like setting. This is a practice that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years and Shane was lucky enough to experience this tradition at a Tokyo spa. The first step of the onsen is the hot stone sauna which uses the minerals within the rocks to increase circulation in the core.
Drilling almost 2km into the earth to find the best minerals, this onsen is the real deal. Shane enjoyed a tranquil bath in 41-degree water followed by a cold 18.7-degree bath, with the change in temperature said to be good for circulation. The experience ended with a green tea to wind down.
Named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, Narisawa offers a dining experience like no other. Shane met with Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa to ask him about what inspired him to become a chef with him replying “My father was a chef and my grandfather was working in a food environment so I naturally chose to be a chef”.
Narisawa expresses the essence of what it means to be Japanese in his food without having to think about the rules of cooking. On his days off he says he likes to get in touch with nature to get inspiration.
Shane got to taste some of Narisawa’s dishes with the presentation, complex flavours and innovative nature of each dish standing out as nothing less than exceptional.
Tune into Luxury Escapes: The World’s Best Holidays this Saturday on Channel Ten when we visit Auckland and Taupo in New Zealand.
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