Rugby Legend Dan Carter's Insider Guide to Tokyo
The New Zealand-born rugby legend and Kobelco Steelers player takes us on a tour of his home city, Tokyo.
18 December, 2018
One of the leading rugby players of his time, even the most unsporty of people will be able to reel of the name Dan Carter when you mention the words "rugby" or "All Blacks". As the highest point scorer in Super Rugby history he fits the bill of sporting legend (and then some).
After a long-standing career playing for New Zealand's national team, All Blacks, Carter switched things up (we would say he threw a curveball, but we've swotted up enough to know that's baseball) and joined on for the Kobelco Steelers in Japan. Swapping South Island for Shinjuku, here Dan dishes out his choice sushi joints, the best workouts in Tokyo and where he heads for a taste of home.
Where should we stay in Tokyo?
The Grand Hyatt, Ritz and the Prince Park Tower are all good, but my favourite is the Peninsula. It's such a beautiful modern hotel with the most comfortable beds I have experienced.
Where's good to head for a work out?
I love running around Imperial Palace, it's a very pretty area and you meet a lot of local runners there. Something I want to try is joining Sumo wrestlers for their morning session which also take place by the palace.
And a massage?
It's hard to beat a deep-tissue massage at the Peninsula Hotel Spa.
What spa treatments should we try and where?
I'm a fan of visiting Onsen (hot springs). It's a very unique, yet relaxing experience; all visitors should give it a crack at least once. Oedo Onsen Monogatari is my go-to place.
Where do you head for a taste of home?
I try and find a good coffee shop that serves a flat white coffee like I drink at home in New Zealand. The Roastery Café in Harajuku comes pretty close.
You're a fashion ambassador for Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Adidas; where are the best places to go shopping in the city?
I love the fashion shopping streets of Ginza and Shinjuku but every now and then I like exploring smaller trails around Daikanyama and Omotesando.
What's the city's dress code?
Anything goes in Tokyo; it has the most diverse fashion sense in the world.
What are some of your pre-game rituals?
I always try to sleep four hours before kick-off to restore some energy. I love listening to music - I listen to deep house - when it starts getting close to the game. Post match, I'll opt for a chill playlist.
For post-match celebrations head to…
Commune 2nd in Omotesando is a buzzy outdoor food court with craft beers and occasional live bands.
For a blow-out dinner book a table at…
New York Grill at Park Hyatt; there's an amazing view from 52nd floor.
A weekend with friends is best spent…
Watching a baseball match or visiting Tokyo National Museum.
Recovery day hotspots?
Yoyogi Park is a bike ride away from the busy city vibe. Inogashira Park is also a great place to relax.
Where should adrenaline junkies head?
The VR Zone game centre or if you're willing to venture just outside of Tokyo, Fuji Q Highland is the home of steepest rollercoaster in the world.
One place in Tokyo only locals know about is…
The industrial area night cruise.
One thing you can only do in Tokyo is…
Experience Otaku culture in Akihabara.
Best food spots in the city include?
Definitely the Ebisu district. Eat in Azabu-Jūban area and you won't go too wrong.
What Japanese delicacies do we need to try in Tokyo?
Edomae-zushi (traditional Tokyo-style sushi) and uni (sea urchin)
Best spot for an evening drink…
R Restaurant and Bar or Andaz Rooftop bar for the view.
To brush up on our Japanese, where should go what and what should we read?
Kobe, where you play for the Kobe Steelers, is just a little over an hour from Tokyo. How should we spend a long weekend in Kobe?
It's a very beautiful part of Japan. Go down to the port and learn about the devastating earthquake that hit here in 1995. Visiting Harbour Land is a must - there are some great restaurants there. Obviously get to a Kobelco Steelers rugby match. Eat some famous Kobe beef and then get lost in the crazy streets of Sannomiya.
What's in your SUITCASE for a weekend away?
My passport, phone, wallet, headphones and a change of clothes is all I need for an exciting weekend away.