Monday, January 14, 2008

Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)

One of the symbols of Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower, is visible from many of the tourist spots (for example Roppongi/六本木) as well as the JR lines around Odaiba. I wanted to visit it for a while now and with the long weekend due to the "Coming of Age Day", the opportunity presented itself. Getting to the Tokyo Tower is very simple. It is literally a 5 minute walk from the Akebanebashi Station on the Toei Oedo line. From Shinjuku this translates to a 10-15 minute train ride. It is quite usual to see both locals and tourists taking pictures with cameras and cellphones on the way from the subway to the tower which is on a hill.

The foot of the tower holds "Foot City" which when I first heard thought was a weird theme park. Apparently it is just a name for the 4-storey building at the foot of the tower. The building contains restaurants, stores, an aquarium, an arcade and the Tokyo Guiness World Records Museum among other things. The tickets for the observatory are sold outside the building in the back and unfortunately the signage is not great so if it is very likely that one ends up going inside only to see signs at the observatory elevators stating they cannot be taken from there. The tickets cost ¥800 per adult. The observatory is at 150 meters (the tower is about 333 meters high and they make sure to drill that point in by having stores named Tokio 333). There is also a special observatory at 300 meters for which one needs to line up at the observatory and pay extra. The waiting time there was double the waiting time at the entrance downstairs (60 minutes versus around 30). Taking good pictures is a little hard because of the reflection off the windows but I think I managed to find some good angles... Oh and a quick tip - the first floor of the observatory which has a bar, is much less crowded than the second floor and a little more dimly lit so it makes for better pictures.

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