I’ve seen plenty of Tokyo from the ground, trotting alongside a few thousand of my closest friends on city sidewalks. I’ve also watched it roll by, from a story or two above the ground, as some of our trains have pulled into stations. But until we took our three-day mini-break in central Tokyo in late March, I had yet to see it from a truly high vantage point.
I think the 450th floor of a sky scraper counts as a high vantage point, right?
Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting tower completed in May 2012, rises to a dizzying height of 634 meters. It’s the tallest structure in Japan and was the second-tallest in the world when it was completed. I could spew a lot of facts at you, but suffice it to say, it’s a popular tourist destination these days. Even on a gray Tuesday, both observation decks at 350 and 450 meters respectively, were filled with a generous mass of visitors. And to get to those decks, we were crammed into space age, or at least high-speed, elevators that smoothly defy gravity.
For some reason, in the tower, I chose to only take pictures with my cell phone. Even weirder, it was set to a vintage filter, so apologies if the pics from this post are a little odd. Or maybe just think of them as inadvertently artsy.
In the picture directly below, you can see the pointed roof of Sensojii Temple, which we visited back in September. The temple seemed huge from the ground. Perspective matters.
I’ve written here before about my amazement at living in a city that is as huge as Tokyo, with its population of roughly 35 million. At Skytree, you get to view the city from every direction. No matter which way we looked, all we saw was an urban jungle, stretching out to the horizon.
It’s humbling. Perspective does matter. I’ve lived my entire life surrounded by a majority of people who think, eat, live, worship and talk in ways that are familiar and comfortable to me. (Our time abroad in England wasn’t as foreign as living in Asia, although there were certainly some profound cultural differences.) Here, every day I encounter people for whom my own life in the U.S. would seem exotic and odd. My normal is abnormal here. Or, should I say my abnormal is normal here? Normal for millions and millions and millions of people. We all know the world is big and that the U.S. is just one of hundreds of nations on Earth, but those foreigners stop being just abstractions when you find yourself living in one of their cities.
Liam also enjoyed our Skytree views of this vast metropolis:
It’s hard to say what goes on in that little head of his. He saved his biggest burst of joy for the sighting of window washers. (I can’t even fathom the bravery that goes into having a job where you work so high above the ground. I’d get dizzy washing the upstairs windows of my house.) These men were calm and relaxed, cheerfully waving at the little crowd that gathered in front of them.
We had an easier way to descend. After a while, we took the smooth elevator back down to floor 350, where we treated ourselves to coffee and cakes with a view at the Skytree Cafe:
I’ll finish with a couple of views of the tower from outside. Here’s the real tower:
And here is its reflection: