Tokyo Tower

Our first jaunt saw a crowd of us heading out to the Tokyo Tower, a short ride on the Metro away. The Metro wasn't too hard to figure out, a 1000 yen (£5) ticket could be purchased that would give you unlimited travel until the credits on it ran out. As it turned out we got 4 days out of one ticket, bargain!

The Tokyo Tower was built in the 1950s and is modelled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, although it's only half the weight. It celebrates Japan's rise to becoming a major global player and is popular with tourists and locals for it's views that it offers over the city.

At the entrance to the tower we were welcomed by this collection of wolves, but there was no obvious link between them and the tower. We thought it may have been some sort of corporate sponsorship but we couldn't see any logos to that effect.

The structure offers 2 viewing platforms; one at 150m and the other 100m higher. You pay money to get to the first level then pay again should you wish to ride the elevator to the upper level. As with the airport the staff here were immaculately dressed, this time in red and black bellboy outfits. It was riding the second lift that I first noticed how "robot" like the routines had become for the staff. The young lad in the lift was giving a talk to a lift full of Westerners who couldn't understand a word he was saying. He could have stopped but I guessed he had been told to give the full speech every time the lift rose regardless, and this was what he was doing.

The views from the top level were alright but the glass was quite grubby and spoiled the pictures taken. As you can see by the time we got up the tower night had fallen and Tokyo's neon nightline was starting to come into its own. This top level is actually a popular dating location with Japanese teenagers. In fact this was something we came to notice more and more, especially around La Qua. In Japan dating is done properly with guys taking girls to more and more exclusive and expensive locations as the relationship develops and the girl comes to trust him more.

This shot overlooks the Roppongi district which has become the ex-pat playground where you're more likely to pull a girl by getting them drunk than by doing anything chivalrous like dating there. In fact the locals tend to leave the Roppongi area to the Westerners, preferring to go else where. Needless to say I had no inkling to visit that particular bit of Tokyo! After all I could get that culture back home.

This is the Ginza district which is home to the designer stores and a little bit of nightlife. I just liked the way there were these pockets of neon visible amongst the darkness. Ridley Scott had got the some of the inspiration for Blade Runner from views like this, and this was the first thought that entered my mind when I took the picture.

Finally after having enough of the views it was time to eat. I've never been daunted by Japanese cuisine and I was up for trying absolutely anything. Whilst those less brave found a McDonalds to eat at, a few of us thought we'd give this place a go. There is no waiter, instead you choose your food from a vending machine type selection which gives you a number and feed the money into the machine. A chef then makes your food and when it is ready your number shows up on a board for you to collect it. The main problem we had here was that the menu was all in Japanese although there were pictures of what you were buying, but no detail to what the ingredients actually were. How did I know what to go for? I didn't, I just pumped some money in and pressed a button at random. I ended up with a really nice soup full of vegetables and beef with a duck egg broken over the top. Very nice it was too!

Having had enough of the views of the city that the tower offered, we ventured back towards the Metro station. On the way we passed a temple that contained a number of small dolls laid out in rows each adorned with red material. In Japan the colour red is associated with "expelling demons and illness" and these were therefore likely to be symbolic gestures for good life and wellbeing. I imagine the dolls represent a Shinto or Buddhist deity to whom the request is being made.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are dog statues at the base of Tokyo tower. It comemmorates sled dogs that worked for the Japanese base in Antartica back in the 1950s.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statues wearing red are Jizo. If a child dies, is aborted or miscarried the parents pray to Jizo to take care of their child and keep the child from seeking revenge. Or something like that see wikipedia.

4:42 AM  

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