Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. In Japan, spring means the coming of a new year — in schools, at companies, fiscally. During this season, hotels offer a wide variety of events for you to refresh and relax in style. Like the cherry blossoms that dominate the imagery of spring, these offers won’t last forever, so make your reservations today.

Spreading sakura through food

Eight restaurants and bars in ANA InterContinental Tokyo will prepare sakura-themed menus from March 13 through April 4.

The hotel is situated in Akasaka’s Ark Hills complex, an area surrounded by streets lined with about 150 sakura (Japanese cherry) trees whose blossoms are lit up at night, providing the right setting and a visual feast during the event period.

Japanese Restaurant Unkai, with an impressive 360-sq.-meter garden, will offer a hanamizuki lunch set (¥5,040), inspired by bentos (lunchboxes) usually brought to hanami (cherry blossom viewing) events.

The Steakhouse will ring in the festive mood with seasonal lunch courses. From ¥4,725, courses include a salad of spring vegetables and tofu with a sakura-flavored dressing, a soup of field mustard and sakura mousse cake with peach sauce.

The Delica Shop will prepare several sakura-flavored sweets, such as sakura Swiss rolls, sakura anpan (bean paste buns) and cookies for takeout.

Furthermore, visitors to four of the participating restaurants — Japanese Restaurant Unkai, Chinese restaurant Karin, The Steakhouse and Cascade Cafe — will have a chance to win a helicopter cruise. Visitors can enter the draw by collecting two or more stamps, with one stamp given for each visit when ordering a sakura-themed lunch or dinner. Also, with three stamps, all participants will get a free glass of Champagne or sakura cocktail.

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

ANA InterContinental Hotel Tokyo is a five-minute walk from Tameike-sanno Station on the Ginza and Nanboku subway lines. For further information or reservations, call (03) 3505-1111.

Not just a grand feast for the eyes

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so celebrates Sakura Sensation in March and April. Guests can see 82 sakura trees of 19 types in the 66,000-sq.-meter, historic Chinzan-so Garden, together with 2 km of “someiyoshino” sakura trees along the nearby Kanda River. Night viewing of “yozakura” trees lit up by LED lights near the garden’s pagoda is another way to enjoy and appreciate the season.

A Sakura Dessert Buffet will be held for lunch or tea during a special limited period on weekdays only from March 23 to April 9 (¥4,500, including tax and service charge), in a hotel banquet room. Along with creme bru^lee and tiramisu, desserts reflecting the color of cherry blossoms and the spring season will be served. Other items include spring vegetable cake, Swiss roll with edible flowers, a chocolate fountain, and eclair station, where guests can make their own eclair. The buffet also serves light meals such as sakura-colored, Parmesan cheese risotto cooked in front of guests and spring vegetable sandwiches.

During Sakura Sensation, all of the hotel’s restaurants will be serving sakura-inspired food. Japanese restaurant Miyuki will prepare its popular bento-style lunches. Italian restaurant Il Teatro will serve an Il Ciliegio (sakura) lunch. Lobby lounge Le Jardin’s popular sakura macaroons and sakura scones will be on sale. The hotel also offers a “Yozakura” Stay Plan so guests can fully enjoy the sakura and the hotel’s sakura-inspired menus.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so is a 10-minute walk from Edogawabashi Station on the Yurakucho Subway Line. For more information or reservations, call (03) 3943-2222.

Special live geisha performance

Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, will celebrate cherry blossom season with a special gala event on April 4, featuring a traditional performance by a group of geisha from Tokyo’s premier geisha area, Yoshi-cho.

Nihonbashi, where the hotel is located, is known as the area where chic and traditional Edo (former Tokyo) culture remains. Yoshi-cho was a famed entertainment district of the area, which also housed many Kabuki theaters, with geisha who performed at playhouses in the golden years of the Edo Period.

The gala event will offer guests the opportunity to glimpse into the fascinating world of geisha traditions firsthand.

The performance will be accompanied by a tune by Japan’s leading shamisen (a three-stringed instrument like a lute) performer, Hidetaro Honjoh, and visual effects on the walls of the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, providing a contemporary backdrop to the traditional dance and music performance of the geisha.

Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the performance is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the third-floor Grand Ballroom. Tickets are ¥8,500 per person, including tax, with one drink either before or after the performance and a photo opportunity with the geisha after the performance.

Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, is adjacent to Mitsukoshimae and Shin-Nihonbashi stations. For reservations, call (03) 3270-8800 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. or e-mail motyo-sales@mohg.com

Enjoy lunch and a hanami cruise

Hotel Nikko Tokyo in Odaiba has a range of sakura-inspired menus at its restaurants, bar and bakery through April 6. From March 20 to April 4, the expected period when the cherry blossom will be in full bloom, plans that combine lunch with hanami cruising will be offered.

For example, at the Japanese restaurant Sakura, a lunch course is prepared in kaiseki style (¥3,675), with main dishes in a two-tiered box, inspired by hanami bento, filled with beautifully arranged spring dishes, along with appetizers, soup, a rice dish and dessert.

Other special lunch courses are offered at teppanyaki restaurant Icho (¥6,825), grill and wine restaurant Taronga (¥2,625) and Chinese restaurant Toh-Gu (¥3,675). Terrace on the Bay continental restaurant prepares courses for lunch (¥2,625) and dinner (¥10,500).

With the cruise plan, guests will first enjoy lunch at the hotel between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., then board a boat at Hinode Pier. The 40-minute cruise will travel on the Sumida River on the way to Asakusa, passing famous riverside hanami spots such as the Bokutei area’s senbonzakura (a thousand cherry trees) and the Chuo-Ohashi Bridge area. The plan costs ¥3,070 with Taronga, ¥3,910 with Sakura and ¥7,060 with Icho.

There are also night hanami cruise plans that are combined with lunch and afternoon tea at the Veranda lounge (from ¥5,320).

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

Hotel Nikko Tokyo is adjacent to Daiba Station on the New Transit Yurikamome Line or a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Teleport Station on the Rinkai Line. For more information or reservations, call (03) 5500-5642.

Pink-colored Champagne lunch

The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo will offer a “free-flow” Champagne lunch promotion on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays during March and April. For White Day festivities, the promotion will be extended to dinnertime between March 10 and 14.

The promotion, held at the hotel’s French fusion restaurant The Dining, features Veuve-Clicquot Rose Label rose Champagne to enjoy with a four-dish, prix fixe lunch. Veuve-Clicquot, a Champagne house with nearly 240 years of history, was a pioneer in producing rose Champagne in 1775.

For 90 minutes, the pink-colored Champagne will be flowing nonstop, adding an elegant and festive feel to your spring gathering.

The lunch course’s starter, appetizer, main dish and dessert can be selected from up to eight options, which combine Mediterranean, Italian and Asian tastes with an authentic French base.

The Veuve-Clicquot Rose Champagne Lunch is available for ¥13,000, including tax and service charge, between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (last order).

The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo is located in the Shinagawa East One Tower, a one-minute walk from the Konan Exit of Shinagawa Station. For more information or reservations, call (03) 5783-1258.

Two-week Belgian dessert menu

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi introduces its Sweeets! culinary event between March 26 and April 7, with a kickoff dinner event on March 26.

During the two-week dessert fair, former world pastry champion Chef Roger Van Damme from Belgium, who is the chef and owner of Antwerp’s famous restaurant Het Gebaar, will be resident in the hotel’s ekki Bar & Grill restaurant.

Guests will be able to sample some of Van Damme’s innovative desserts that have been creating a culinary revolution throughout the Belgian dessert world. Exclusive desserts will be available a la carte at ekki Bar & Grill with lunch and dinner.

The kickoff event on Mar. 26 is part of the restaurant’s bimonthly dinner event Te^te-a-Te^te. For ¥10,000 per person, a four-course dinner comes with a dessert plate of three modern creations, accompanied by selected wine, with the opportunity to hear the chef introduce his creations. The reception starts at 6:30 p.m. and dinner from 7 p.m.

Also, on March 27, the Sweeet! Afternoon Event will offer guests the opportunity to sample an artistic six-dessert course with selected teas for each dessert. The event is from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and costs ¥4,900 per person.

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi is adjacent to Tokyo Station and a five-minute walk from Kyobashi Station on the Ginza Subway Line. For reservations, call (03) 5222-5810.

Rejuvenate at a penthouse spa

Spa & Wellness Joule, a penthouse retreat located on the 28th floor of Hyatt Regency Tokyo, offers a special spring spa package, a combination of body treatment and scalp care, from March 1 to April 30.

The Joule Bloom package (¥24,500, including tax) brings a feel of spring, using floral herbs and aromas to care for your body and scalp. The 60-minute body treatment uses a lavender and chamomile herbal, mixed scrub to gently remove the body’s stiff, dry skin damaged from winter weather. This relaxing treatment will rejuvenate skin, bringing a fresh, smooth and moist feeling.

Conditioning body treatment is followed by a 15-minute scalp treatment, which uses rosemary essential oils to relieve the head’s tension and take you into a deeper state of relaxation. Eyes and head tired from using computers and office work will be treated with a gentle touch, which adopts delicate head treatment techniques used on babies to remove the scalp’s tension and rejuvenate your skin. Rosemary aroma is also known to help soothe pollen allergy symptoms.

On treatment day, spa guests have complimentary access to the pool and fitness area, so it is recommended for guests to work out and use the Jacuzzi to boost metabolism before the treatment. After fully relaxing the mind and body with floral aroma body scrub treatments, guests can enjoy a spa meal in an area that overlooks the metropolis.

Hyatt Regency Tokyo is adjacent to Tochomae Station, a four-minute walk from Nishi-Shinjuku Station and a nine-minute walk from Shinjuku Station. For further information, call (03) 3348-1234.

Dinner parties and bar specials

Those planning a small but special dinner party can consider the It’s My Party plan at The Peninsula Tokyo’s Peter restaurant, which has breathtaking 360-degree views of Tokyo and the Imperial Palace Gardens.

You can choose from some 20 kinds of Peter’s internationally inspired a la carte items, to make a three-, four- or five-dish course. Including coffee or tea and complimentary chocolates to complete the celebration, the dinner courses are ¥8,500, ¥10,000 and ¥12,000 per person, respectively.

For an additional ¥4,800 per person, enjoy unlimited Champagne, white wine and red wine with no time limit.

The party plan is available for a group of up to 12 people until Apr. 30 for dinner between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Peter: The Bar, next to the restaurant, also has special offers. The Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles plan, available daily between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., offers premium Champagnes with no limit together with bar snacks and your choice of an appetizer for ¥7,800 per person.

For those who want to have a brand-new experience, Senior Bartender Mari Kamata, who won second prize at Diageo’s 2009 World Class Bartender of the Year competition, will serve you her original selections of cutting-edge Molecular Cocktails, which fuse spirits and cuisine, from ¥2,200.

For early visitors on weekdays, the bar offers a Weekday Happy Hour promotion, with select drinks and snacks from ¥700 each, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., valid until Aug. 31.

Peter: The Bar is open from noon to midnight (to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

The Peninsula Tokyo is connected to Hibiya and Yurakucho subway stations. Call (03) 6270-2738 (Peter) or (03) 6270-2763 (Peter: The Bar) for more information.

Spring dishes teppanyaki style

During the month of March, Royal Park Hotel Tokyo’s teppanyaki restaurant Sumida on the 20th floor will hold a Matsuzaka Beef Fair.

Matsuzaka beef, from Mie Prefecture, is noted as one of the best Japanese brands of beef. Also in Mie, the Ise and Shima areas are blessed with seafood such as Ise ebi (Japanese spiny lobster). This combination of the best beef and seasonal seafood prepared with fresh spring vegetables and luxury ingredients awaits guests in the form of two courses.

The “Ise” course starts with mineral-rich oysters cooked with bittersweet spring vegetables. This is followed by ravioli of seasonal shellfish with caviar, then cream asparagus soup. Next comes fruit tomato salad with spicy grilled Ise ebi. Seven dishes in all, including Matsuzaka beef, come with the “Ise” course (¥21,000).

The “Shima” course starts with tasty bastard halibut sashimi in season, followed by blue crab and konowata, which is salted entrails of trepang added to rich blue crab extract, served as chawanmushi (egg custard steamed in a cup). Next comes softly grilled abalone served with crunchy vegetables. The “Shima” course also comprises seven dishes, including Matsuzaka beef (¥26,250).

Both courses, available for lunch or dinner, include lightly roasted beef toro with grilled foie gras as an appetizer and fragrant truffle ice cream for dessert.

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

Royal Park Hotel Tokyo is connected to Suitengumae Station. For more information or reservations, call (03) 3667-1111.

Enjoy hanami sitting by the bay

InterContinental Yokohama Grand, a landmark hotel of the Minato Mirai waterfront district with its distinctive sail-shaped appearance, has renewed its popular dessert buffet menu for spring, through March 31.

The dessert buffet is limited to weekdays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Lounge & Bar Marine Blue, which offers a panoramic view of Yokohama Bay from its wide windows. Some 15 kinds of sweets — with sakura flavor, pink color or flower-shaped motif, etc. — will let you feel the spring season. The buffet is ¥1,890, including tax but before a 10 percent service charge.

Meanwhile, during the cherry blossom viewing season between March 26 and April 9, Bayside Garden, the outdoor terrace of the Ocean Terrace buffet restaurant, will open as a hanami beer garden. Enjoy two hours of unlimited beer, wine, shochu, sake and cocktails with some 10 kinds of buffet items while feeling the sea breeze and watching the night view of Yokohama Bay and cherry blossoms blooming on the opposite shore.

The beer garden is open between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, and between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Tickets are ¥4,500 in advance and ¥5,000 at the door, including tax and service charge.

InterContinental Yokohama Grand is a three-minute walk from Minatomirai Station or a 10-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station. For further information, call (045) 223-2222.

Bringing autumn fare to spring

This spring, in a creative reversal, Pan Pacific Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu will bring New Zealand’s autumn harvest to the Cafe Tosca international restaurant, which features an interior of palm trees evoking a resort feel and wide-open views of the Minato Mirai area.

The restaurant’s dinner buffet, dubbed Kitchen Stadium, is a popular hotel attraction, with an action corner where guests can closely watch the chefs’ cooking.

Kitchen Stadium in New Zealand, from March 16 to May 16, will offer a variety of dishes — using lamb, beef, seafood and fresh vegetables from New Zealand — and desserts.

At the action corner, where meat and fresh vegetables are displayed colorfully like a local market, chefs will grill lamb, beef and pork or fry vegetables in olive oil per your request. Lamb loin is also served in a unique way — Japanese shabu-shabu style.

Those who answer a questionnaire will have a chance to win a five-day, round-trip vacation to Auckland with Air New Zealand or other New Zealand related goods.

Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and costs ¥4,700 on weekdays, ¥5,600 on weekends and holidays, and ¥2,800 for children ages 6 to 12.

All prices include tax. A 10 percent service charge will apply.

Pan Pacific Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu is a one-minute walk from Minato Mirai Station, or a 10-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station. For more information or reservations, call (045) 682-2218.

Return the favor on White Day with quality hotel products, hospitality

White Day is a unique Japanese invention that allows recipients of valentines to return the favor. Held every March 14, one month after Saint Valentine’s Day, the occasion also helps usher in springtime with just the right mood.

Here are a couple of examples of what Tokyo’s high-end hotels have to offer to help you celebrate White Day with your loved one this year.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s Fiorentina Pastry Boutique is offering a special assortment of homemade marshmallows that come in five flavors: mint, rose, strawberry, orange and exotic. An exclusive marshmallow box that includes all five flavors is sold at ¥5,500, perfect as a White Day gift, through March 14. Each individual flavor costs ¥1,250.

Meanwhile, guests who want to celebrate this special day in a more dramatic fashion should choose The French Kitchen, which is holding a Promise to Marry promotion, a proposal plan that assists you in making the special day unforgettable. Decorated by the hotel’s wedding team, the Terrace Table private dining room, available for one couple per day, is the perfect venue to enjoy the fine cuisine prepared by the restaurant’s skillful chefs. Stroll through The French Kitchen’s candlelit walkway and celebrate your marriage proposal romantically with a special gift, flowers and a cake.

The Promise to Marry package is priced at ¥50,000 per couple, which includes the private dining room, a set dinner menu, flowers, a cake, a bouquet, tax and service charge.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo is located in Roppongi Hills, a three-minute walk from Roppongi Station. For more details, call Fiorentina Pastry Boutique at (03) 4333-8713 or The French Kitchen at (03) 4333-8781.

No flower is more suitable for romantic occasions than roses, so Westin Tokyo’s Graceful Rosy Night accommodation package is sure to make a great gift on White Day.

The package comes with a Rose Bath set, which includes 50 roses in red and gradations of pink and a bottle of rose water. The fresh, quality roses are selected from those with zero residual pesticides. The rose water, made with reputed damask roses, grown organically in Bulgaria, provides a strong and sweet fragrance.

Surprise your loved one with a bath filled with floating, colorful roses and their elegant aroma.

After the graceful bath, take time to enjoy the night views from one of the East View Deluxe Rooms, popular for their views of Tokyo Tower. The spacious, 42-sq.-meter rooms are equipped with a Heavenly Bed, which promises comfortable sleep.

The Graceful Rosy Night is available through May 31, from ¥39,000 per room with double occupancy, including tax and service charge. Reservations, required and must be made five days in advance of arrival, can be made by calling (03) 5423-7770 or accessing www.westin-tokyo.co.jp.

The Rose Bath set can be also purchased as a gift box for ¥10,000 by calling (03) 5423-7000.

Westin Tokyo is in Ebisu Garden Place, about a seven-minute walk from Ebisu Station. For more information, call (03) 5423-7778.

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