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Searching for Nirvana

The Facts
Unlike the checkerboard grid of Kyoto, Tokyo is a maze of spiraling, unnamed streets and spaghetti-like subway lines. Hotels can provide detailed directions, and Tokyoites are eager to help. You'll still get lost, but that's how you'll make some of your best discoveries. Yokohama and Nikko are not far from Tokyo. Yokohama is easily reached in less than an hour from major Tokyo stations, and, bearing little resemblance to its 19th-century self, can be toured in an afternoon. Nikko, on the other hand, has all the charm of rural Japan, and its numerous mountain shrines—not to mention the views—are as compelling today as they were for Adams and La Farge.

Hotels
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo 2-10-8 Sekiguchi Bunkyo-ku; 800/332-3442 or 81-3/3943-2222, fax 81-3/3943-2300; doubles from $463. The 100-year-old Chinzan-so Garden, surrounding the hotel, is one of the most beautiful in Tokyo, and a favorite spot for weddings. Water for the "Onsen" bath is piped in from the Izu Peninsula; you're encouraged not to towel off too vigorously, so as to preserve its moisturizing properties.

Hotel Okura Tokyo 2-10-4 Toranomon; 800/223-6800 or 81-3/3582-0111, fax 81-3/3582-3707; doubles from $371. If you can't afford the presidential suite, where John and Yoko always stayed, you might impress the bartender in the Bar Highlander by requesting their favorite table (in the far corner to the left as you enter). The Japanese wing has 11 traditional tatami rooms and a roof garden with cherry trees and a tea ceremony room. The tea mistress says 80 percent of the guests at the ceremony are Westerners. Don't miss the Okura Museum, which houses national treasures and a fine collection of Japanese paintings.

Nikko Kanaya Hotel 1300 Kami-Hatsuishi, Nikko; 81-288/540-001, fax 81-288/532-487; doubles from $371. Has a stunning dining room, with carved columns to die for. Order the trout Kanaya-style. Photographs on the walls show Charles Lindbergh, Helen Keller, and other luminaries relaxing in the mountain air.

Restaurants, Bars, and Cafés
Selan 2-1-19 Kita-Aoyama, Tokyo; 81-3/3478-2200; lunch for two $50. Continental food with an Asian accent.
Mikawaya 47-16 Ginza, Chou-ku; 81-3/3561-2006; lunch for two $80. French cuisine, Meiji-style.
Fujimama 6-3-2 Jingumae, Tokyo; 81-3/5485-2262; lunch for two $40. A hot spot off Omotesando, this casual restaurant housed in an old wooden building serves imaginatively conceived Asian fusion.
Rojak 6-3-14 Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo; 81-3/3409-6764; lunch for two $22. Another excellent fusion restaurant, also with elegant design. Just around the corner from the Nezu Fine Art Museum.
Perbacco 5-10-1 Jingu-Mae, Tokyo; 81-3/5466-4666. You'll hear plenty of Italian spoken—you could be in Rome—and the espresso is wonderful. So is the view of the ivy-covered Deco apartment buildings across the street, many of which now house hip boutiques.
Izu'ei 2-12-22 Ueno, Tokyo; 81-3/3831-0954; lunch for two $60. Even if you think you don't like eel, give it a try here, at the corner of Ueno Park. (For reliable, up-to-date, sophisticated advice on Tokyo restaurants, go to www.bento.com.)

Shopping
Matsuya 3-6-1 Ginza, Tokyo; 81-3/3567-1211. The best of the department stores for traditional Japanese arts and crafts.
Indenya Uehara Yushichi 2-12-15 Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo; 81-3/3479-3200. A couple of blocks down Aoyamadori from the popular Japan Traditional Craft Center, this store sells only luxury items—handbags, billfolds, coin purses—made of tooled deerskin in a style reaching back four centuries.
Hanae Mori 3-6-1 Kita-Aoyama, Tokyo; 81-3/3423-1448. The boutique of one of Tokyo's most popular designers was built by the internationally renowned Kenzo Tange. In the basement, antiques dealers offer everything from samurai swords to flapper dresses.

Museums and Monuments
Nezu Fine Art Museum 6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo; 81-3/3400-2536. Special exhibitions and a stunning permanent collection, in exquisite surroundings.
Tokyo National Museum Ueno Park; 81-3/3822-1111. Dowdy but essential, the world's greatest collection of Japanese art.
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 1-10-10 Jingumae, Tokyo; 81-3/3403-0880. Only Japanese prints—but what prints!
Yokohama Doll Museum 18 Yamashita-cho, Yokohama; 81-45/671-9361. Japanese dolls and a good gift shop.

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