Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tokyo Tower

Today was one of my housemate's last full day in Japan before she returns to Thailand. We wanted to do something nice for the final day, and she said she'd never been to Tokyo Tower. I've been here for nearly six months, and I've never been to Tokyo Tower either, so we decided to go for the day.

We took the Hibiya line to Kamiyacho station (神谷町駅), which is about 7 minutes walk from the Tower. We stopped for lunch at Yoshinoya, for about the billionth time (it's so cheap!), and one of my favourite Japanese songs was playing, 'Black Diamond', by Double & Amuro Namie. And then they played a song that my French housemate likes, 'Jungle Dance', by Nana Tanimura, or rather, he likes Nana.

We walked up the road, and it was quite humid. This is rainy season, but all this week it's just been humid and cloudy, rather than wet. We passed this funky looking building on the right.

And then rounded the corner to the left, and there was Tokyo Tower!

Tokyo Tower (東京タワー) was based on Paris' Eiffel Tower, but is actually taller, at 333m tall. Although it weighs nearly half of the Eiffel Tower, with only 4,000 tonnes. Tokyo Tower is the tallest self-supporting steel structure in the world, and the tallest artificial structure in Japan. It is used to broadcast radio for companies like NHK and it also a very popular tourist destination. 2.5 million people visit its attractions in Foot Town and the two observation decks every year.

I'd heard about this board before. Apparently it's too hard to get a decent shot of the Tower with a person in front of it, so now all you have to do is stand in front of this photo!

The first place we visited was Foot Town, which is five floors, including the roof, of a building beneath Tokyo Tower. It has museums, small rides for children, and fun things to look at.

We went into the wax museum, which cost Y500, but you can buy a combination ticket for several museums for around Y1,300.

The actual wax figures weren't very impressive, or life-like, but the concave and convex mirrors at the beginning were definitely the highlight!

I should be a model...

Madonna? Mao Zedong, apparently.

This one of George Bush was probably the best one there.

Jimi Hendrix wasn't too bad.

There was an area with scenes from a samurai fight, and this guy is just adding insult to injury.
No way is that the Beatles!

They had British newspapers! Unfortunately, it was the Daily Mirror. Why not go the whole mile and export 'The Sun' to Japan, just to show Britian in its best light?

They had 3D cinema booths, but it was too expensive, so we didn't try them.
Then we found a free museum area with lots of information about Japan inside. It was really interesting.
All of these little cards showed what you can do with Y10,000 (about £50).

You can buy 4.5cm2 of Ginza...

... 0.087m2 of a building in London...
... 0.31m2 of land in Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido...
... 0.34m2 of New Zealand...
... 0.015cm2 of this Van Gogh painting...
or 14,970m2 of the Moon (that's quite a good deal I think, could come in handy in a few decades too).

This is the roof area, with lots of tiny rides that I wished I could have gone on.

Then we paid our money (Y860) to go up to the main observation deck, which is 150m high. There is a second deck at 250m, but it costs an extra Y600 to go up.

This is the inside of the colourful elevator. You could see the view through the glass walls too.

The observation deck is a circular room with views of many areas in south Tokyo. It was a misty day (thanks to the rainy season) so there wasn't a huge amount to see.

There was a board which lit up with the plans for the 2016 Olympic Games, for which Tokyo is one of the four remaining contestant cities.

There were also boards where you could input an area, and it pointed to where it was on the electronic map.

That's Shinjuku in the background.

Yes, they had glass in the floor that you could stand on and look down to the ground far far below.

We finished in the compulsory giftshop, where I bought a small red model of the Tower. But, I bought it for Y450 (which is very cheap I think) in the observatory shop, and then found the exact same thing in the shop downstairs for Y100 less! So it's worth going to the downstairs shop first to check the stock and prices, before going to the observation deck.

It was a fun day at Tokyo Tower. Maybe there's not a huge amount to recommend it, but I enjoyed the visit.

We then trekked to Ueno, because my housemate wanted to buy some souvenirs for her friends in Thailand. There is a big, cheap department store near Naka-Okachimachi station (仲御徒町駅) called Takeya, and she wanted to go there. We walked from Ueno station (上野駅) and then found it closed! There was sign saying "Closed on the 3rd Wednesday of every month", which was the exact day we decided to go!! What are the chances...

So we walked back to Ameyoko Market (アメ横) and wandered round there for a while, before going home.

It was a another fun day, but of course it was a bit sad because we knew that she'd be leaving the next day.

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