If I could choose one scent to follow me wherever I go, basil would be my fragrance life partner. So when I saw the sweetly fragrant herb growing on a wooden table piled high with dried fruit, flowers and oils at the AO Spa, I knew I was in for a bespoke Zen indulgence.

The facialist plucked a few of the bright-green leaves, placed them into a mortar and, using a pestle, ground them together with some fresh wasabi (it happened to be in season) to create a good-enough-to-eat blend for a pre-treatment foot soak. This personalized approach using fresh, locally sourced ingredients is the spa’s modus operandi, known as jiyu jizai, or “your creation.”

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After the apothecary session, it was time for the main event: the Repair Facial, administered in one of the spa’s 37th-floor treatment rooms with sweeping views of Tokyo. The multi-step process uses Diamond Collection products from Spanish brand Natura Bissé to boost hydration and restore luminosity and elasticity. After this massage marathon of oils, exfoliants and serums, I opened my eyes, looked out the window and spotted the Imperial Palace— an apt vista after an experience fit for an empress.

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