Monday, November 27, 2006

A Tokyo Tower Tour

After snatching the book back from Matt this week, I started reading Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr again. I first read the book not long after I arrived here, and it quite simply made my blood boil and left me sitting there incredulous that a country most view as one of the most advanced in the world could possibly be in such shape. Reading through the first Chapter on Construction again now, on the verge of leaving Japan, I find it quite simply fascinating. I have seen trickling rivers dammed up 3, 4 and 5 times up stream in the natural wonderland of the Japanese Alps, I have seen water an inch high running down a 10 meter deep concrete chute, and I have seen entire mountainsides covered in the concrete that is the lifeblood of the construction industry. Amazing to read it with a little more time "in-country."

Anywho. Another weekend has come to a close and we are now less than a month away from our Vietnam\Cambodia trip! Woohoo! Will be nice to get out of the office, and out of the country, for a while.

Sunday was spent picking up some Christmas gifts to give to some students who got Yoshiko and I something for our wedding last month. We then settled down under my kotatsu as the rain started to fall and watched a couple of movies. Relatively mellow day.

This morning, we hopped on the Tobu line heading out to Asakusa. The day had 2 main objectives, first to try and scrounge up some Christmas gifts to send home and second to have Yoshiko's medical paperwork done up for the immigration process. Matt came along since he wanted to also check out the shops in Asakusa and run an errand near Shinjuku. We ended up being quite lucky with the weather, leaving the rain behind in Utsunomiya for a cloudy but dry day in Tokyo. We wandered pretty much aimlessly at first, with nothing much catching my eye in the touristy shops near Sensoji, but I did manage to pickup gifts for my parents before we met up with one of Matt's friends and headed to lunch. Many of the shops and restaurants were closed for the day, and some had some rather nicely decorated doors.

As we passed by Sensoji, I snapped a quick picture not noticing that some of the kids in the school group were posing for me! A bunch of the kids said "hello" and "teacher" as we walked by before collapsing into giggles. Kids here sure are cute.

The pedestrian street wasn't as crowded as usual, which makes for a nice change from the usual elbow to elbow sea of humanity.

We had a quick udon tempura lunch set before parting ways with Yoshiko and I heading to the Tokyo tower area to find the clinic. We made our way by train to the area of the clinic, with unfortunately no real idea as to where it is. Their web site had no map, but we did have an address and we knew it was close to Tokyo tower. Well... unfortunately, the layout of neighbourhoods and buildings aren't quite so easy to follow around here. 2 different police officers gave us 2 different sets of directions to the address, both on opposite sides of the huge tower\park\business area. We ended up walking around in a complete circle for 40 minutes following their directions before finally finding the place. When they said it was "close to Tokyo Tower" they weren't kidding! This is the building here, with the orange structure in the background being one of the tower's legs!

So despite being 20-30 minutes late for the appointment, we were able to get in and fill in the forms in quintuplet... poor Yoshiko had to write her addresses down 20-some-odd times on different forms and was quickly taken in for the checkup. While she was in there, I headed for a bit of a walk around, having never been in this area of Tokyo before. Having never been this close to the tower, I never realized it's true scale... that is one big-ass monstrosity. Here's a picture of just one of its legs.

I quickly headed away from the tower, which while quite lovely at night is nothing special during the day. I had noticed a temple nearby and I wandered the grounds a bit taking pictures. I've never really liked cloudy days for taking pictures... I like punchy, colourful pictures and the gray skies don't help much. I am quite pleased with the way this one turned out though. This is a leaf which had fallen on a stone on which are carved the footprints of a nearby Buddha statue.

As you can imagine, the tower towers over everything around.

I was surprised to see people in some of the tower's windows in this zoomed pic I took. Gotta love the 12x zoom on the S3!

I then headed back to the tower to grab a coffee and pickup some gifts for my brothers while waiting for Yoshiko to finish. The touristy shops inside the tower were very well stocked, great shopping stop for souvenirs. Surprisingly, everything was over quite quickly and we were able to meet up with Matt in Ueno as scheduled despite our running around. On the way to the station, I spotted the Tokyo Masonic Building and snapped a quick shot of their funky sign.

After a quick run in to Ameyoko in Ueno for some stuff for Matt and a bag for me to protect my backpack in when we travel next month, we picked up some grub to eat on the train and settled in to our reserved seats for the ride home.

For anyone living out here in Utsunomiya, I strongly recommend you check out the Tobu line. It is MUCH cheaper than JR and if you are heading into the Asakusa\Ueno area it makes a lot of sense to get a reserved seat on the express back from Tokyo and avoid standing in the crowded commuter trains. The cost of a comfy reserved seat is about the same as the local fare on the JR line! Easy way to check out train schedules by the way is Hyperdia which is quite easy to use. You can put in TobuUtsunomiya for Tobu line departures or just Utsunomiya for the JR station.


Blogger Cymbeline Villamin said...


May I request permission to use your photo of Tokyo Tower for my experimental work, Tokyo Memoir by Kareeza Viloria (pseudonym)I will donate as public domain work to A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN WRITERS : PHILIPPINES, where I am listed as Cymbeline Villamin.

I enjoyed immensely your pictures.

I also have a blog site at


10:32 PM  

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