I made my way south to Tokyo Tower from Okachimachi station to Hamamatsu-cho station, via the Yamanote line. The sun seemed like it was really trying to break out of the clouds along the way.
Hamamatsu-cho station was still familiar to me from the week before so navigating through it was nice and quick. Emerging out onto the street in front of the World Trade Center Building that sits next the station, I hopped in a taxi and made my way to Tokyo Tower.
The ride was actually much shorter than I’d anticipated, and before I knew it, I’d arrived right in front of the ticket windows of Tokyo Tower.
Standing on the ground and looking skyward, Tokyo Tower was impressive enough, with it’s international orange painted girders’s reaching high into the sky above. Maybe it’s not as elegant as say the Eiffel Tower, but it’s still magnificent enough and I was looking forward to the grand views of Tokyo that awaited me. The tower itself is 1,093 feet tall with the main observation deck located just about halfway up at a height of 450 feet. There is a higher deck (at 820ft high) but it seemed to have long wait for it, so I passed on it.
With my ticket in hand, I got in the elevator without even having to wait. A quick ride up, and I was on the observation deck, standing at the windows and peering out across the Tokyo skyline.
The clouds weren’t clearing like I had hoped. I was a baffled by the fact that there was blue sky all around when I got in the elevator but in the it ride up, the blue just seemed to vanish. Oh well. The sun beams streaming through the clouds were a beautiful sight. And besides, there was enough time for the clouds to clear if they really wanted to. With that in mind, I took my time walking around the observation deck, enjoying the views of the giant metropolis below.
To the north, I could see the Tokyo Sky Tree and my favorite hotel in Shinbashi, the Dai-Ichi Hotel (in the lower left corner of the photo below.)
West was the Shio Dome (below) and Tsukiji Market near there.
To the south I could see planes landing at Haneda Airport, but in general, that view was kind of just so-so.
And let’s not forget the fun windows that look down through the floor to the ground far below. There are two, and I found it amusing to see who wouldn’t actually walk across the windowed floors.
(Slightly off topic: Tokyo Tower’s international orange paint made me think of an old joke from art school. That in the sculpture department, the joke went, that if you’re not sure what to do with a piece, then make it big and paint it orange, or something like that. Gotta love the art school humor.)
After circling the observation deck a few times and visiting both floors (there are actually two floors in this lower part and even a Shinto Shrine), along with nothing much going on sunset-wise, I decided to sit down and enjoy an ice coffee and soft serve ice cream at the Cafe La Tour. Refreshing.
After my snack, I made my way to the windows and did some more photography. The sun was actually trying it’s best and delivered this. Better than nothing I suppose.
The view down to the streets below was nice, but I regretted not having an even longer lens or a teleconverter on me so that I could have gotten some shots with even greater compression to them. Still, I enjoyed what I got.
As I wrapped up my time in Tokyo Tower, I watched the dark, heavy rain clouds move in, darkening a sky that was already growing dark from the fading light of day. There was sure to be more rain tonight at some point, not to mention a crazy amount of humidity in the air.
(Oh, and there’s Shinjuku out in the distance, top right skyline, in the photo above.)
By now it was 6:15pm and I decided it was time to leave. So, I got in the elevator and headed to the ground. It let me out on the second floor of the four story building (at the tower’s base) called Foot Town. (It’s home to several attractions, like the Tokyo Tower Wax Museum and Aquarium Gallery but none of that really interested me that night.)
The second floor, where I was now, was simply souvenir shops and restaurants and I made my way through it kind of quick. I did briefly stop to admire the scale model of Tokyo Tower next to the exit, but thats about it.
Outside, it was dark now. I decided to walk back to Hamamatsu-cho station in a route that would take me down and past the Tokyo Prince Hotel and Zoujou-ji Temple. It was a nice walk, although it was far more humid than it was when I went up into Tokyo Tower and I was sweating like mad. There weren’t many people out at all, it was far quieter than I thought it would be. I guess this area is more business and not at all residential?
I love construction zones here in Japan. So neat and organized.
It wasn’t long before I ended up at Zoujou-ji, walking down the sidewalk that ran along side it. The sidewalk bordered up against the cemetery garden containing small statues of Jizo, the protecter of unborn children in Buddhism. The statues are decorated by parents with clothes and small toys, and then prayed to so as to make sure the unborn children make it into the afterlife guarded by Jizo.
It was a somber thing for me to see, and I stopped for a while and sat quietly with them. The wind would blow gently and spin the pinwheels. Nobody else passed me the entire time I was there. It felt a little strange.
From there it wasn’t much longer to the train station. My feet were getting tired and it was starting to lightly rain. I have to come back to Zoujou-ji next time I’m in Tokyo for sure. I never realized it was there and what it is, importance-wise.
Order is everywhere and reinforcing that idea is this feature on the sidewalk where I stopped and waited to cross the street in front of Zoujou-ji.
I like that there is an official “wait” spot on the sidewalk. “とまれ” (tomare, written inside the circle) means stop in Japanese. The footprints were very helpful indeed.
Next stop for the day’s (or now night’s) journey was the ever popular Shibuya. See you there!