Suite dreams: NEW YORK A$1,050 / TOKYO A$499
First of all, you’ll need somewhere to lay your head. The Park Hyatt Tokyo (above) is in Shinjuku, one of the city’s main hubs and an area full of shopping, dining and entertainment options. The hotel takes up the top 14 floors of Shinjuku Tower and has great views over the city and all the way to Mount Fuji. Entry level rooms are priced from JPY48,450 (about A$499). The same room at the new Park Hyatt New York will set you back more than twice that, starting at US$975 (about A$1,050) per night. For something a little fancier, take a one-bedroom suite at the Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi. The hotel is petite by Japanese standards with just 57 rooms and there’s a traditional Japanese onsen in the spa. JPY97,000 (about A$998) per night will get you an 88-square-metre suite with two bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and a 3D television. A Manhattan suite at the Four Seasons New York comes with a little more space, but it also takes a lot more cash with rates starting from US$4,595 (about A$4,955).
Fine dining: NEW YORK A$65 / TOKYO A$8
Tokyo is arguably the fine dining capital of the world, with more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city. But it also might be the only place where you can dine at a starred restaurant for less than A$10 – as long as you don’t mind making lunch your main meal of the day. Nakajima is a one-star restaurant in Shinjuku that serves up a set lunch for just JPY800 (about A$8). For that you’ll get a main course, like sardines, as well as rice, miso and pickled vegetables. The menu is inspired by Kansai cuisine, which is known for its sweetness, and chefs have been selected from local culinary academies. Three-star Sushi-Saito is in the Roppongi district and, with only eight seats (and a waiting room), it’s about as exclusive as they come. Lunch here starts from just JPY5,250 (about A$54). In New York, three Michelin starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has just reopened his outpost at The Mark Hotel. For lunch, entrees like chilled artichoke and mustard dipping sauce start from around US$20 (about A$22) and main courses from US$40 (about A$43). It’s also worth noting that a 15-20 per cent tip is customary in New York, while tipping is forbidden in Japan.
Tea for two: NEW YORK A$56 / TOKYO A$15
Tea is an integral part of Japanese life; it has a rich history and tradition, and visitors will be presented with a cup whenever they enter a home. Experience a tea ceremony at the Imperial Hotel in a sukiya-style tatami mat room, with tea prepared and served from a traditional brazier. Tea and sweets is priced from JPY1,500 (about A$15) per person. In New York, high tea at the Pembroke Room at The Lowell Hotel starts from US$52 (about A$56) per person and goes up to US$85 (about A$92) per person, plus the required tip. While these high teas are more indulgent (and heavier on the cakes), they can’t match the cultural experience of a traditional tea ceremony.
Shop til you drop
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Japan was famous for its super cheap electronics and travellers could usually buy the latest gear long before it arrived in Australia. While the internet and the rise of other Asian electronics manufacturers means this is no longer the case, there are still deals to be had in Tokyo. The Globe Shopper Index named the city the fourth cheapest shopping destination in the Asia Pacific region, and the cheapest place to buy a digital camera. The city also received a near perfect score on a qualitative assessment of genuine (as opposed to counterfeit) goods found in department stores, much higher than other shopping hubs in the region.