A beginner's guide to Tokyo

The city seems too distant, hot and expensive for most people. But ignore your preconceptions. You’ll have the time of your life, and after years of deflation – thank the Shinto gods – Tokyo is cheaper than London, and more fun.

And for good measure it has been crowned the world’s culinary capital, trouncing Paris, London and New York, check out Tokyo’s official tourist website, ToykoTourism.

The Sakura Hotel is the backpackers’ choice: cheap, cheerful, clean and right in the heart of Tokyo, and a quick subway ride from many of its main attractions, SakuraHotel.

While the Hotel Okura, which offers old-school city-centre luxury, is still the preferred choice of accommodation for Yoko Ono, who stayed here with John Lennon in the 1970s.

First thing is to hop on the Yamanote Line , which loops around the city and makes a pit stop at many of its major attractions, then hop off at Tokyo Station and walk to the Imperial Palace, roughly the size of New York’s Central Park. Then probably the best view of Tokyo, and the place to sample a little Hollywood glamour, is in the Park Hyatt’s New York Bar , where Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray wallowed in luxurious alienation in Lost in Translation.

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