Friday, 13 April 2018

Tokyo Tour

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was off to Japan. Now, having been there and returned home, I have come to appreciate how beautiful a country it is. It's a land that blends together history and ancient culture with modern technological wonders. I would like to share with my readers my top five things to see in Tokyo.

1. Asakusa

Entering through the Thunder Gate (Yes, I made several Thunder Dome references when I heard its name) you enter a vast market area. There are hundreds of little market shops lining the main path. Some Tardis like power means that entering any of them you could get lost inside. It is possibly one of the best places I went for souvenirs. Past that, if you walk down through, is the Buddhist temple. The smell of incense was very strong and there were several booths to purchase good luck charms and seek fortune readings. Its a large site with not only the Buddhist temple but there is also a small shinto shrine to the right of the temple building, some sculpted garden areas to the left, including a museum with a beautiful pond you can walk around.
2. Tokyo Sky Tree

Not to far away from Asakusa is the Tokyo Sky Tree. A tall feat of modern engineering, the viewing deck of this tower is on the 365 floor. The view is amazing, you can see across the skyline of Tokyo picking out some of the landmarks and making a list of what you want to see next. The queue to get in is pretty long, I got there pretty early (around nineish) and it took an hour to get to the ticket counter. There are also two different decks, the second of which contains a galleria relating to a J-POP group - Five Star Knight, that costs extra if you want to see it. The Sky Tree is also attached to a very nice shopping center to look around with several good eateries and traditional souvenirs as well as a Pokemon store.

3. Tokyo Tower

From many spots across Tokyo you can see the Tokyo Tower - a structure not too dissimilar to the Eiffel Tower, during the day you can pick out its red and white painted facade clearly. However, at night, when its lit up, is when it really shines. The viewing deck is not as high as the Tokyo Sky Tree but its still a very impressive view and inside the decks at the time I was there, they had holographic projected light shows that were amazing. There is a cafe on the lower half of the deck where you can get a drink or ice cream and sit looking out across the nighttime skyline.

4. Cat Cafe - Harajyuku

If you're a cat lover much like me then this is a place worth a visit. Mocha Cat Cafe is one of many cafe's of this type all over Japan. Situated on the 4th floor of a tall building close to the station and Meiji temple entrance, its an experience that although enjoyable can prove to be pricey. For the price of between 500-600 yen per person, you get a drink and ten minutes in the cafe. You also pay an additional price for every ten minutes after that. There are a long list of rules that the staff go through with you before you go in - don't feed the cats, don't chase them, don't pick them up etc. You also have to take off your shoes and wear slippers inside. Once inside there were about a dozen cats lounging around that let you sit by them and stroke them - very soothing but not really something I would do for a long time (especially at the cost).

5. Tokyo Dome

The Tokyo Dome is actually a stadium for baseball games, but I have no idea how you get tickets or what Japanese baseball is like. There are stalls on match days selling all sort of merchandise for the Tokyo home team. However, connected to the complex are several function halls - one of which on the day we arrived there was host to hundreds of Japanese Cosplayers. If that is not enough, there is a further complex to the side - Tokyo Dome City - which is not only a shopping center but an amusement part. Never before have I seen a roller coaster that curls around the top of buildings or a food court that includes a log flume. There were several rides on top of that, including a carousel and a Ferris wheel. Impressive enough during the day, but lit up during the evening, its almost magical.

All photographs are ©2018 SonnetO'Dell

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