When arriving to a new city, you always want to visit that iconic place you’ve seen so many times in so many places, call it movies, animes or whatever; but in a city like Tokyo, there’re just so many iconic places to choose from, but one of them I wanted to visit more than any other: Tokyo Tower.
It’s no secret its design was based on the Eiffel Tower of Paris, its painted in bright red and white colors, but this is not casual, it was done that way to comply with the flying regulations, but at the end, that also makes it stand out from the rest of the buildings that surround it; and with its 333 meters, it’s actually taller than Eiffel Tower.
Having visited Shibuya and Meiji Jingu before, I wanted this day to be even bigger, and what better than the symbol of Tokyo. Japan has a pretty efficient metro system and there’re maps that tell you how long it will take you to arrive to your destination, even when Tokyo Tower was not that close, it said it should take 27 minutes to arrive; with that in mind, I left my hotel in Kinshicho and took the train pretty early in the morning, and there I was, Toei Oedo Line’s Akabanebashi Station very punctual 27 minutes later.
It was really not difficult to realize which direction I should go after getting to the street since the tower could be easily seen from there; red and white, huge, even from the distance, it looked so surreal, I had to get closer to see if it was already there, the Tokyo Tower I had heard a lot, and I walked.
I got lost a bit in the small streets around the tower, it’s always been my style to get lost while looking for a place, I love to get lost because I’m able to be in other kind of places and streets quite different than the main arteries of a city, I get to see a bit more of the culture and how people live and always imagine how it would be living like that, a fascinating exercise. This time I only got lost for a few minutes because the height of the tower was a very good reference of what direction I should go. And there I was, the Tokyo Tower, right in front of me.
I stayed for a while outside just staring at the tower, its height, imagined the men working in its constuction, how it was painted, helicopters flying around (just because I like helicopters), and all kind of stuff that I always have in my head, I looked at the people around me arriving, leaving, coming and going, but I like always imagining an adventure happening, the past, the future.
After awhile, I got in the tower, there was a small mall inside in the base, souvenir shops and a fast food place. I wasn’t hungry, plus, my personal travel savings policy forbade me eating in an expensive place like that. After fulfilling my curiousness, I bought a combo ticket to get to the two higher floors of the tower, the Main Observatory at 150mts, and the Special Observatory at 250mts.
The life and the heart was at the Main Observatory, there were souvenir shops, the Café La Tour and a live radio show called Club 333 (the 333 comes for the total height of the tower). Since it was close to Halloween, one of the hosts, a girl, was dressed as Snow White; to be honest, I really don’t know who she was but people were asking for a picture with her (perhaps because of her dress), so, I didn’t lose my chance and asked for a picture as well. This was quite interesting, because Snow White (who was really pretty) seemed to be really pleased that a foreiger asked her for a picture, even when she returned to her seat, she looked at me and gave me a beautiful and shiny smile, I must say, that made my day even brighter.
I stayed a good time at that floor, enjoying the view of the city, staring it from the different windows, interacting with a curious robot and of course, watching a bit of the live radio show; after some time, I took the elevator to the Special Observatory. A small place as expected since I was now very high in the tower, I could see as far as Mount Fuji and almost all of Tokyo, the perfect place to finish the Tokyo Tower experience. I don’t know if it was because of polution or just the weather, but it was a bit foggy; nonetheless, the view was still marvelous.
After spending a while in the Special Observatory, I went again to the Main one, a very pleasant place where I decided to stay a bit more, just staring at the city and trying to figure out how to get to Zojoji Temple, which I could easily see from the tower, just a few meters from it. My sense of direction is really bad though, that didn’t help; but once I was on the street again I asked a girl for the temple, and instead of only giving me directions, she even took me there.
Being in Zojoji was the perfect place to finish my visit to Tokyo Tower, you can see the tower behing the temple, like if they were couples, always together. Zojoji is also a quite important place, it’s surounded by trees, even when you are in the middle of the city and can see the Tokyo Tower behind, it’s really a quiet and enjoyable place. It’s also the home of the Tokugawa Mausoleum and the place where some of the shoguns from Edo period rest.
Zojoji is a formidable place to enjoy the contrast between the old and the new Japan, even when some of the original complex was sadly destroyed during the Second World War, it’s still a must to visit, the feeling of being in between the ancient Japan and the modern one is a strange but remarkable experience.
Everything that I had heard about Japan and what I had already seen with my own eyes until now was correct, but quite different at the same time. It’s a weird sensation, the same happened when I was at Shibuya and Meiji Jingu, every new place was a complete new world inside one single city. However, my day was still far from finishing.