As a major landmark, the Tokyo Tower has seen a lot of action on TV and film. Destroying a 1000 foot tall tower is a sure way to get a rise out of any audience. The tower has run afoul of Godzilla, Mothra, Ultraman, Sailor Moon, and the many sullen psychic teenagers of the Clamp Manga series “X”. However, as Sara and I found, there is another reason that the Tokyo Tower gets the shaft so often.
We started off the day attempting to wander the gardens outside the Imperial Palace near Tokyo station, but inclement weather put a stop to that.
After a warm bowl of ramen, we decided to make our way to the Tokyo Tower. Tokyo is such a huge city that you can’t really get a sense of how the whole thing looks from any one point like you can with Vancouver or Seattle. Narita airport an hour outside of Tokyo, so we couldn’t see the city from our airplane. The Tokyo Tower’s observation deck seemed to be the best vantage point by which to get a holistic view of Tokyo.
The Tower was impressive even from the ground. Seeing it loom over the gate of the Zozo-ji really captured how Japan has one foot in the past while reaching out into the future.
When we got to the foot of the tower, we finally got to see a monkey. He did some tricks while his trainer tried to play the “straight man” part of a comedy double act with him. I felt a little guilty enjoying the act because the monkey did not look like he wanted to be there, but I set out on this trip to find a monkey, and a monkey I did find.
After getting a my picture taken with Noppon, the Tokyo Tower mascot, we got in line to get our tickets. Since it was the 50th anniversary of the Tower, it was really crowded. It looked like people from all over Japan were paying a visit. We were sandwiched into an Elevator with about 8 other people. At the observation deck, smooshed up against the windows, we finally saw how big Tokyo was.
There was nothing but buildings for as far as the eye could see. There were patches of green here and there from the city parks, but there was no way to see where the city ended and the country began. It was magnificent but a little terrifying. The green hills of Abbotsford were never so far away.
There were also a few musems located in the base of the Tower. There was a trick art gallery, a wax museum, and even a 3D Yatterman anime. Even after coming thousands of miles, the setup of these museums seemed a little familiar, like I was on some sort of field trip. Now, I visited the Tokyo Tower as a tourist, and of my own free will. If I had to come here 3 or 4 times over the course of my grade school career to yet again experience the wonders of the Statistics Museum (they had one there, I’m not making this up) ,I might have grown to bear a little disdain for that orange and white behemoth. Considering that I’d be stuck up there with a class of other bored teenagers, and the wonderful memories that experience would bring, I probably wouldn’t mind sitting in a theatre watching Godzilla and his friends rip that thing to rivets.
While the Tokyo Tower was really impressive, I could understand it if people have a love-hate relationship with it. For some, it would be a birds-eye view of their city that couldn’t be achieved on any other building. For others, it would conjure memories of crowded elevators and dull field trip lectures. Personally, from now on I prefer to look at the Tokyo Tower from the exterior, and I sincerely hope it continues its prime function of transmitting all those wacky Japanese game shows.