Friday, February 22, 2013

Tokyo Tower - Symbol of Sight-seeing and So Much More

20th August, 2010 - After visiting Zojo-ji, we were off to see another old favourite friend in Tokyo. Good old Tokyo Tower... Walking up the road from Zojo-ji, you catch glimpses of the tower through the tree line. A tease of things to come.

Tokyo Tower was a symbol of reconstruction and re-birth in post WWII Japan. The tower is a complete rip-off of the Eiffel Tower - though at 333 m tall, it is about 10m taller than the original French inspiration. Construction started in 1957 and was completed in 1958 - with the first radio transmitters installed in 1961. 

Tickets to the observation deck are around 820 yen for adults, and 460 yen for children over 4, and 310 yen for children under 4. The main observation deck is at the 150m mark, and affords quite nice 360 degree view of Tokyo, and being where it is, there's lots of cool neighbourhoods to find in amongst the neon and steel.

My brother-in-law said before we went that we should try and find the second Tokyo Tower... and frankly I didn't know what he was talking about. Then as I was looking out at the night-scape, it suddenly struck me. The second Tokyo Tower! No... not the Skytree... but a wonderfully coincidental tower made from the street lights of a busy intersection just a little way from the tower. And yes - even I could see how you could call it a second tower... built entirely from momentary car lights and sodium sparkles. 

Of course - any tower worth it's salt is going to have a "glass floor", and Tokyo Tower doesn't disappoint. Whether it was because it was night, or whether I was taken up in the mood - but I jumped on with complete abandon. Which, as some of you might know I do get afraid of heights quite easily... this was quite an achievement. But then again, sitting on my bottom was something I knew instinctively how to do. 

There is also another "special" observatory that you need to fork out another 600 yen (in addition) once you get to the main observatory. For whatever reason, we've never bothered abut getting up to the 250m level. We were content with what we had. Back down stairs, the tower is amazing at night when it's lit up brilliantly. 

And if you find it all too much, then you can pop into the "Foot Town" building at the base of the tower and check out the faux Shinto temple as something different (and is found on the second floor). It's four floors of beautiful cliche tourist trap sort of stuff. But it's still irresistible!

Tokyo Tower is almost certainly a tourist trap itself... but it's so much more too. Like all symbols it stands apart from that which describes it - even if it seeks to symbolise the city it lives in - Tokyo. It turns out to be quite a classy reminder of the dreams Japan had at the beginning of the 60's when it seemed that all you needed was a good work ethic and the world was your oyster. Even though the world has changed, it's symbolic power remains, if a little hidden under the glare of it's new sister tower, the much larger Tokyo Skytree.