Talking of quality, one of Mandarin Oriental Tokyo‘s finest selling points is its proximity to Sembikiya grocery store. Imagine, without going out to the street, being able to leave your luxury hotel to walk through its massive atrium to a display where every item is exquisitely laid out as an art work. Today they are celebrating strawberries, and the gal is able to walk around looking, and if she wanted, to sample. Young men are lovingly unpacking fruits from sturdy card crates that they immediately break down, for recycling. Each avocado has its own polystyrene ‘bed, as so they should at a whopping ¥10,800 each. There are musk melons, the cheapest of which is ¥10,800.
I go out to Nihonbashi, turn right and, after a couple of blocks, reach the Mitsukoshi store. I am in for another treat. This is a really old-fashioned department store, built around a central open atrium that soars up through seven floors. I take escalators all the way to the top, passing men’s wear, including lots of golf gear, and beds, with lots of men sprawled out horizontal, ostensibly seeing which mattress was best for sleeping (note, no women were trying beds but they were too busy, perhaps, having their faces made up at the Shisheido beauty counters down at ground level). Also down there, at entry point, there was a craft fair, with skilled practitioners doing cloissonerie and silver work.
Soft music permeated throughout the store, and at one point I passed a talented young tuba player performing something delightfully classical. This really is a store for heightening the senses. A saké tasting is attracting a lot of interest, and quite a lot of purchases. I head out, past brightly coloured Kate Spade and MOMA handbags, and back to the beautiful Mandarin Oriental. A selection of green teas has been laid out – which one to choose? I also have a phial of Lohas oil, distilled from barley yeast. Following instruction, I pour said oil into a black ceramic dish for it to permeate all corners of room 3601.
The sun is setting and I get ready for dinner. From room 3601 I look out at skyscrapers around. The traffic is less obviously snarled than in past years. Is this a rarity or the norm?