Travel | HOTELS & RESTAURANTS

Sakura-themed meals perfect for spring

Springtime is picnic time. In Japan, that means finding a relaxing spot to view the sakura cherry blossoms — and this spring, The Peninsula Tokyo has prepared a variety of sakura-themed amenities to help its guests get a true taste of the flowery season.

Through April 13, 24th-floor restaurant Peter is offering sakura-themed takeout lunchboxes paired with a glass of sparkling rose Champagne. Priced at ¥5,500, the lunches include crab cakes, potato salad sandwiches on rye and a few other tasty selections perfect for a picnic at Kokyo Gaien National Garden.

The Peninsula Boutique & Cafe on the first-floor basement is also offering sakura-viewing picnic sets through April 14. The sets for two provide appetizers, sandwiches and dessert, as well as a half bottle of The Peninsula Champagne (for a total of ¥9,500) or sparkling rose Champagne (¥7,000).

Those looking for some indoor sakura extravagance as well can rest at ease: The Lobby on the first floor is serving Sakura Strawberry Afternoon Tea through April 30; the bar at Peter is mixing up sakura-inspired cocktails through April 14; and The Peninsula Spa has prepared 110-minute luxury treatments available through April 26.

The Peninsula Tokyo is connected to Hibiya Station. For reservations, please contact Peter via email on peterptk@peninsula.com or call 03-6270-2763.

Performing arts under the cherry blossoms

Unforgettable afternoons filled with gorgeous cherry blossoms and captivating Japanese performing arts await guests at The Hotel New Otani Tokyo.

The New Otani has a beautiful garden that boasts a 400-year history and has 19 varieties of cherry blossom trees. From March 23 to 24 and 30 to 31, the garden will host a cherry blossom festival featuring an array of traditional Japanese performing arts. Among these performances will be tezuma — a type of magic show from the Edo Period (1603-1868) and an Intangible Cultural Property of Japan — performed by one of the world’s top practitioners. Japanese umbrellas appearing out of thin air and the actors’ instant facial transformations are just some of the otherworldly acts guests can look forward to.

Other attractions include a performance with a painter donned in traditional Japanese garb creating works of calligraphy to musical accompaniment, a ninja show and interactive areas where guests can try on samurai armor and kimonos, as well as dabble in yuzen, a Japanese dyeing technique.

The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and admission is free of charge, though fees will apply for certain events.

The Hotel New Otani Tokyo is three minutes from Nagatacho or Akasaka-Mitsuke stations. For more details, visit www.newotani.co.jp/en/tokyo or call 03-3265-1111.

Exclusive menus to please the palate

The time-tested flavors of Japanese and Italian cuisine are coming together on one plate this April at The St. Regis Osaka. Gion Sasaki — one of Kyoto’s most popular Japanese dining establishments — is borrowing the kitchen at the hotel’s 12th-floor Italian restaurant La Veduta for two days of innovative fusion dining.

Available exclusively on April 20 and 21, La Veduta will offer lunch and dinner courses featuring magical banquet menus courtesy of Gion Sasaki owner Hiroshi Sasaki and hotel executive chef Gianluca Visani.

Dinner is hosted both days and costs ¥30,000 a person. The doors open at 6 p.m. with gastronomic proceedings commencing at 6:30 p.m. Lunch debuts on April 21 only but comes at the reduced price of ¥25,000. Guests will be directed to their seat from 11:30 a.m. and served at noon.

Though the meal specifics have been left tantalizingly vague, both chefs have jovially hinted that they will include spring vegetables, shellfish, shrimp and traditional Kyoto-farmed produce known as kyo-yasai. Chef Visani has also expressed his desire to experiment with matcha, so guests can expect to see some delightful palate pleasers come of this special collaborative occasion.

The St. Regis Osaka is directly connected to Honmachi Station. For more information or reservations, access www.stregisosaka.co.jp or call 06-6258-3333.

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