Of all the aspects of business impacted by the pandemic, conferences, trade fairs and other such large-scale gatherings have been amongst the hardest hit. While no major city on the planet was left completely unscathed by the coronavirus, Tokyo has kept outbreaks relatively under control. Although eateries, bars, and other leisure facilities have been subject to restrictions such as early closing times, Tokyo has been able to continue most commercial activities while working to curb the spread of the virus.

Infection and fatality rates in Japan have consistently been a fraction of those seen in Europe and the Americas. One likely contributing factor to this is the scrupulously high standards of hygiene that have long been ingrained in Japanese culture. In addition, there is a long tradition of mask wearing in Japan to prevent the spread of colds and flu, as well as by those who suffer from hay fever.

Technological boosts to safety and peace of mind

In addition to ubiquitous mask-wearing and hand sanitization, various new technologies to prevent infections are being trialled and deployed in Tokyo. These include contactless ‘touch-screens’ to avoid having to direct contact with items such as elevator buttons and ATM keys, fully automated and staff-free shops, cleaning robots, face-recognition tech and biometric sensors to detect potentially infected people.

A combination of attention to hygiene, technology and thorough anti-infection measures are also being utilized at Tokyo’s numerous unique venues to ensure everything possible is done to protect the health and safety of all MICE participants.

Unique venues

Sixty-four of the city’s finest locations available for MICE events have been brought together under a joint initiative by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. These Tokyo Unique Venues consist of a rich selection of one-of-a-kind locations to hold distinctive MICE events that stand out from the crowd and help create memorable experiences for participants.

One such venue is Edo NOREN, a stylish recreation of the city’s past with a full-size sumo ring as its centerpiece and a high ceiling that gives it an open-air feel. The venue is located in Ryogoku, the heart of Japan’s ancient national sport of sumo. Attendees can watch demonstration matches up close, as well as enjoy the traditional fare on offer at the surrounding restaurants and shops which recreate the atmosphere of old Tokyo.

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Meanwhile, Tokyo Tower, one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks, offers the chance for an event held high above Tokyo in one of two spaces with panoramic views over the metropolis, or in the open-air area at the foot of the 333-meter structure.

Among the many other facilities available are theme parks, traditional Japanese gardens, historic shrines and temples, museums and aquariums.

Stories of success

In October 2019, a showcase event was held at the nearly 400-year-old Daikyoji Temple in Shibamata, one district where “old Tokyo” remains intact. Dignitaries from the worlds of business and politics soaked up the atmosphere of Daikyoji and the adjoining Temple Street full of old-time shops and eateries, along with a spectacular display of acrobatics by a troupe of Japanese steeplejacks inside the colorfully-illuminated temple grounds.

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Almost exactly a year later, even the pandemic couldn’t dampen the spirits of the TAAKK Fashion Show, held as part of Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo, which took place inside the greenhouse at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in the center of the city. Models strutted their stuff along pathways surrounded by the greenhouse’s rich botany, while comprehensive anti-virus measures, including health checks for staff, social distancing for models while they waited to appear, temperature checks for attendees, hand sanitization and taking contact details, kept everyone safe.

One-stop MICE solution

Tokyo Unique Venues was established in 2018 as a “one-stop service desk” offering a full-range of event-planning support, from locating venues and coordinating site inspection, to arranging promotion materials and introducing event organizing companies.

“The service is on hand to assist with overcoming challenges that organizers may face around logistics, planning, scouting locations, communication with venues and much more besides,” explains TCVB’s Director of Business Events Team, Hironobu Fujimura.

TCVB also provides financial support to help cover costs including hiring furniture, tents, stages, lighting, audio-visual equipment and generators.

Ideal venues in the ideal city

“With vast numbers of companies and academic institutions, Tokyo can offer MICE events that provide opportunities for networking and knowledge acquisition. Tokyo is also steeped in unique cultural tradition, existing alongside cutting-edge technologies. This blend of the old and the new differentiate Tokyo from other cities,” adds Fujimura.

Boasting a broad range of unique venues, outstanding transport and communications infrastructure, and world-renowned levels of safety, Tokyo is the ideal backdrop for genuinely unique MICE events.

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