Alone among old three story apartments, The Tokyo Sky Tree erupts out of the neighborhoods of Tokyo that were once the red light district and sill the Sumo wrestling center of the universe. It’s to some an eyesore, and to others the foundation of a revitailzation plan for an area of Tokyo that has lagged in tourist and commercial development.
We were told to go on a weekday early, and indeed there are no lines, although the place is clearly set up for mobs of tourists with empty snaking rows poles and ropes. It’s about $80 for the three of us! Not cheap.
But it’s our best chance to see Mt Fuji, the backdrop for all of Tokyo. And one of the most perfectly beautiful moutains on the planet.
The elevator takes us up almost a quarter mile at 30 feet per second and the doors open to blinding light. The observation deck is 360 degrees of 15 foot glass windows displaying Tokyo for miles and miles.
Snap Snap, I take a few more pictures, absent-mindedly searching for Mt. Fuji, but it’s not clear where it is through the haze over Tokyo. With the aid of a map in Japanese, I figure out which direction it should be and just spot it’s snow covered outline to the North. And it’s huge! I can’t believe how big it is compared to all of Tokyo, and were it a clear day the photo would beautiful.
Snap Snap, I hope to get a good one, even though it’s quite faint on the horizon. And I realize I’ve been shooting with no memory card in the camera! Argh, this happens once a trip or so – and it drives me crazy not to get a photo of Tokyo and Mt. Fuji.
We search the mall below the Skytower, and with an image on my phone, show every shop keeper but they all say no, except for one tiny little place that sells hair products. She digs it out of a box behind all sorts of stuff. Who knows how much I paid for an 8GB card, but I hate coming all this way and not getting the shot. At least we found super cute Akita stuffed animals along the way.
Emma, Lily and I walk straight pass all the ticket checkers to the elevator and red lights flash as we put our cards in. They pull us aside and explain that we already went up – always smiling. But no amount of explaining will get me up there even for 5 minutes.
When Trish was travelling with us, and the girls were younger, I would have left her with them to go up myself, but without the second adult I have to either pay for the girls to come with me ($50) or have them hang out by themselves for a bit. I opt for the latter.
They at least don’t make me wait in lines again once I buy a new ticket, I sort of get a personal escort to the top where again the blinding white flash of bright sun makes me shield my eyes. But Mt. Fuji is gone. It was already hard to see, and there ins’t even a trace of the snow covered top to be seen.
The bright spot, is that my girls are playfully chatting when I return. Over two hundred days of travel has given them a lot of confidence and patience to deal with stuff as it comes. That’s been the real gift of our family vacations – not some stupid picture of a mountain. (It still kind of makes me mad though.)
Sort of nearby is the Tokyo-edo museum, a beautifully curated presentation of the history of Tokyo. It’s highly regarded and recommended by family and friends who went there. Inside are some nearly life size structures and a few items like water buckets and a carrier for the royalty that the girls can play in or test out.
We could have gotten an English guide, but we sometimes don’t want to go at their slow pace. Today is one of those days. There are a bunch of seats near the bathrooms, on which we sit for a while. The endless days of walking is slowly wearing us down and we need a break. I think I even sleep a little.
Tokyo has a huge section of the city that has been built on reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay. There are a bunch of museums there, and the major broadcaster of Japan, NKK. It’s also where Disneyland and a few other smaller amusement parks like lego land and Sega ‘Joyopolis’ are housed in big malls.
It’s unlike the rest of Tokyo because the scale seems so different. Here are wide streets, parking lots and huge buildings, and open undeveloped spaces. It also has a monorail, which gives it a retro-futuristic look. because the scale is so different, The distances are deceiving. it takes us a good 30 minutes to walk to the ‘Museum of Innovation’ where robots and other newish japanese technology is showcased. And it makes the feet hurt even more to find that it’s closed! I’m sure my guidebook says it’s closed, but I didn’t think to check on a tuesday.
We head back and pass a pretty big decorative robot from the popular show outside another large mall. Cirque du Soleil has a tent here for ‘Ovo’ which we’ve seen. I wonder if the performers are Japanese or North American?
Our final stop for the day is the Sega ‘Joyopolis’, a large arcade with indoor rides and some video games. I’m so tired that I go to the top floor and nap in the arcade. Lily and Emma have a pretty good time, but with Disney coming up, and our general fatigue, it’s hard to think it’s great especially for the money.
One crazy thing, is the urinal has an interactive peeing game where sufficient pressure of urine will blow the blouse off a woman or kill your stret-fighter style opponent with nose snot! Or maybe it was a dream…?