While different parts of Japan appeal to varied interests, it is its capital city that embodies the spirit of modern Japan to first-time visitors. Leisure and business travel aside, Tokyo is becoming increasingly popular in the MICE segment. And the experience is not only promising, but also safe to begin with — Tokyo was ranked first out of all 50 cities in the 2015 Safe Cities Index.
Even spending a few days in Tokyo can expose travellers and delegates to a whole new level of professionalism and civic sense — one that seems to be ingrained in the Japanese population.
With around 404 hotels housing 69,702 rooms and over 7,22,290 sqm of meeting space, Tokyo’s hospitality standards and choices offer convenience and comfort to delegates. Here is a curated list of sites and hotels to host your next big event in Tokyo.
• GETTING HERE FROM INDIA: Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways operate daily direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai respectively.
Tokyo International Forum
Located in Otemachi, Marunouchi and Yurakuchu localities, Tokyo International Forum is close to leading business and commercial areas. Regarded highly for its architecture, this is one of Tokyo’s foremost landmarks that not only appeals to delegates but also to tourists. This multi-purpose convention and arts centre houses an array of facilities including eight small-to-large-size halls, 31 conference rooms, an expansive glass atrium, a ground-level plaza with lush greenery, a number of shops and restaurants, and an art museum. The space is largely divided into blocks A to E, with facilities of all sizes spread across each block. Connecting the blocks is an underground concourse; while bridges on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors connect the hall building and the glass building. This helps in the smooth operation of large scale events. It prides itself on being one of Japan’s largest halls, with a seating capacity for 5,012 people in hall A alone.
• 3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda; tel: +81 3 52219000; t-i-forum.co.jp/en/
Tokyo Big Site
Situated in the Ariake district of Tokyo, Tokyo Big Site is built on the shore of Tokyo Bay, and is close to the Ariake Coliseum (an indoor sporting arena), Tokyo Fashion Town building, Panasonic Center and several other corporate buildings. It is Japan’s largest convention and exhibitor centre, boasting a total floor space of 2,50,823 sqm. Tokyo Big Site’s most iconic feature is its 58-metre-high Conference Tower that spans eight storeys. The glass and titanium-panelled Conference Tower looks like a set of four inverted pyramids mounted upon large supports. The facility is divided into four main areas — the East Exhibition Hall with six halls, the West Exhibition Hall with a two-layered exhibition hall, a high-ceiling space called Atrium and four halls, and the Conference Tower with two halls and 22 rooms. There are also 15 restaurants and cafes, and three convenience centres in Tokyo Big Site. It will be one of the venues for the 2020 Summer Olympics being held in the Japanese capital.
• 3 Chome-11-1 Ariake, Koto; tel: +81 3 55301111; bigsight.jp/english/
Prince Hotels and Resorts — Takanawa banquets
Prince Hotels and Resorts operates 43 hotels in Japan and seven overseas. In Tokyo itself, the group operates nine hotels that spread across various areas and price ranges. The group’s complex in Takanawa houses The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo, The Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, The Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa and the International Convention Center PAMIR. Overall, the banquet rooms of the Takanawa area offer meeting planners the convenience of space and accommodation in the vicinity. Within the International Convention Center PAMIR are two banquet halls — Konron (2,397 sqm) and Hokushin (1,837 sqm). PAMIR’s two floors house small- to medium-size banquet rooms including Aoba (340 sqm), Zuiko (476 sqm) and Ohtei (171 sqm). HITEN, its main banquet hall that sprawls 2,013 sqm is located in Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa. Its entrance hall UZUSHIO is designed to depict a gentle slope from its entrance to the front entrance of the hotel that is only a five-minute walk from Shinagawa station.
• 3-13-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku Tokyo, 108-8612 Japan; tel: +81 3 34421111; princehotels.com.
Hilton Tokyo Bay
On the eastern shores of Tokyo Bay, close to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea is Hilton Tokyo Bay. It is the official hotel of the Tokyo Disney Resort as well. Since Hilton Tokyo Bay is only 30 minutes from Tokyo and 60 minutes from Narita International Airport, it makes it an easily accessible and convenient MICE venue offering 828 keys. The property houses two ballrooms, 14 smaller function rooms, and five restaurants and bars. Lounge O by Tokyo Bay and the outdoor Garden Pool area are also available for events. Its largest meeting room spans 1,260 sqm. The hotel’s website provides meeting planners with a Guest List Manager tool, where users can sign in to manage their guest list and room specifications. Hilton Tokyo Bay also lets event managers create personalised group web pages for an upcoming event.
• 1-8 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba; +81 47 355 5000; hilton.com.
In Tokyo’s Shirokane district lies a lush Japanese garden called Happo-en that houses banquet facilities and historic buildings. It is located at a five-minute walking distance from Shinagawa station and about 25 minutes from Tokyo station. A pond is the centrepiece of this garden that boasts of bonsai trees that are over 500 years old, and the “Muan” and “Kakuhoan” teahouses. Standing at the back of this expanse of green is Hakuho-kan, a banquet hall that’s decorated in Japanese architecture. With a seating capacity for about 120 guests, Happo-en is more apt for intimate affairs and small social gatherings. The front of the hall opens up into a garden and there is also a cosy lobby that serves as a pre-function area. There are several other halls that are spread across its six-storey building including “Jour” that’s connected to the main garden and “Nuit” that is accessible to the inner garden.
• 1 Chome-1-1 Shirokanedai; tel: +81 3 34433111; happo-en.com.