or … what happened else today.
Now it is time to go back to the hotel. The monorail brought me up to Big Sigth, now go further to the terminal station Toyoso. All these island are new. The didn’t exist when I was here last time (2004). Even Big Sight wasn’t built back then. Crazy. 8 years ago this was part of Tokyo bay. Here in Toyoso I have to change into the subway. I asume that this streets were the coastline before. The houses are looking old. But before I start into the subway, I order myself a big bowl of ramen. I only forgot that I am still in uniform. This causes some irritation.
Late in the afternoon I start to find the district called Iidabashi. The Lonely Planet mentioned it to be a point of interest in Tokyo. I don’t know why. This place is nothing special. There are two nice shrines here; an old one and a moder one. There are some side alleys. Ok, there are some more. It is like a maze. GPS would really be a benefit. And it is a residental area. Maybe that is what the LP meant by “an old part of Tokyo”. After several turns I am back at the main road, that is a pedestrial area until 6pm. It is the first I spot supermarket and a drugstore in Tokyo.
It is getting dark. Therefore I start towards the Sky tree. Maybe there are some waiting tickets left. Holidays are over and there may be less people. I get one and can pick up my ticket in 90 minutes. That gives me some time to pick up my tripod in the hotel. But again I underestimated the distances and the travel time in Tokyo. I arrive back at the tower a few minutes before my time is over. And in addition I get myself lost in the maze of floors and stairways. Not easy to find 5F. Even worse. They order me into the wrong queue. The first time I have to act like an American to correct it. Otherwise the waiting ticket is void.
Again I have to wait before I can buy the final ticket. 2000 yen. Pricy. And then there is some waiting again; in front of the elevator. There really are many tourists here. The elevator is going up with a speed of 23 miles/hour. This means 1968 ft/min or 3 floors/second.
This is a view. Tokyo at night. And there are no sky scraper or tall buildings around. Therefore it looks even higher. Tokyo is in every direction; up to the horizon. All these lights. There is an area with multi-story apartment buildings that have an access balcony. In front of every door is a light bulb. Are there are many light bulbs. To many to count. Behing each lamp is living at least one person. Wow.
There, between the tall buildings, is the Sumidagawa with all the bridges. The buildings get lower into the opposite direction. I see the curve of the river I only knew from google maps. Then this other river is the Arakawa. And this really long building. is this the building they built as a fire division wall? It is approximately a half mile long.
And then there is this darkness underneath the Sky Tree. The district Musashi is old and basically filled with small business and residential buildings. No skyscraper. Surrounded by the rest of Tokyo, it looks like a black hole. No doubt that the Sky Tree with its 10 story shopping mall will change this area of Tokyo forever.
Sky Tree Gallery
A second elevator brings my up to the 450m level. Another 100m of height. Crazy. Ok, I have to pay another 1000 yen, but is worth the trip. The elevator has a glass roof and the elevator shaft is illuminated. 100m in blue. Futuristic.
And the additional 100m really make a difference. The sightseeing platform is going slightly uphill. This is the helix a saw from below. It looks strange but is a great idea. The walk ends one level higher at an elevator that goes down to 350m. They seperate the ingoing and outgoing stream of people.
On my next trip I will visit again during daylight. I hope there are less people waiting then. And I will bring a polarisation filter to remove the reflex from the windows. I shall I return at night again. All these lights. They have a hypnotic effect on me. I am like a moth in a lamp store.
[Update: This video also shows the shrine from 2010. I was carrying hte Mikoshi. And it shows the area around the Sky Tree and the contrast between this modern high-tech building and the old neighborhood.]