May 19, 2013
While walking around Akihabara yesterday I noticed a pain on the outside of my right foot. It only got worse as the day went on and I found myself limping and in pain. When we got back to the hostel I started icing it hoping it would feel better today but no luck. We were supposed to take a day trip to Nikko today but I don’t think all that walking around would be a good idea. Reluctantly I am spending the day icing my foot while I’ve unleashed Jeff on Tokyo to wander around by himself.
***This is a guest post by Jeffrey Mazzei***
The first destination was Roppongi Hills for what was promised as great views in all directions of Tokyo.
Roppongi Hills is a newly built complex that was designed to incorporate all the modern preferences and benefits of urban living into one community. It has places for you to live, work, eat, play, and learn. It has a modern plaza, a mall with plenty of high-end stores, subway connections, and a very tall tower as it’s centrepiece. The tower is called Mori Tower. It is 250m tall, with an observation area and museum on Floor 52 and an open-air observation deck on the roof beside the Helipad.
This is the view from the foot of the Tower soon after you get above ground. It is definitely a great first impression. The grounds are very nice and well-kept, in keeping with the general level of care the rest of Tokyo keeps as well.
The main outdoor plaza at the foot of the tower held this sculpture as a welcoming. It was probably 20 feet tall. And it was definitely reminding me of something from a TimBurton movie. It was not in keeping with the overall style of the plaza, which was of modern elegance, but surprises like this are what I like about Tokyo.
Even the kids are stylish. Here we have a super-fly backpack styled after the Bullet Bills from Super Mario. +10 pts to that kid for sure. I definitely approve.
A view of Tokyo Tower from the observation floor of Mori Tower. The views were great today and I could see almost all of the city. This is looking south towards the water and the harbour.
Here is a similar view. Tokyo Tower is just out of frame on the left side. You can see the Rainbow Bridge (center) and the docks (right side) as well as the entrance to the harbour.
Here is a view roughly to the southwest. I like how the highway cuts a swath through the very dense neighbourhoods of Tokyo. Mount Fuji is in the background on the left. More pictures of that to come, don’t worry.
This is more looking to the north from Mori Tower. The green in the foreground is a massive cemetery. You can also see Tokyo stretching far off into the distance. It was like this in pretty much every direction.
Now I am up on the Sky Deck. It is the roof of the Tower. Before taking the elevator up here, the very helpful assistants/security insisted that I only take a phone and a camera. No bags or hats or anything that can fly away. These needed to be left in lockers on Floor 52. Here is the helipad of Mori Tower. The perimeter is the Sky Deck, and it was pretty windy when I was there. It would be easy for a bigger bag to get away from an unsuspecting tourist.
The Sky Deck was where I was able to get this shot (and many more) of Mount Fuji looming over Tokyo. Mt. Fuji looks amazing, and I was very happy to be able to see it so clearly.
I just thought this security camera was neat. It’s got a little articulated lens wiper! This was on the roof, so it is reasonable to expect it to get wet, but it’s still neat.
This crazy cafe was on the 52nd floor as well. It is the Miku Cafe, and is a tribute to the synthetic pop star Hatsune Miku. ‘Her’ CDs are available for sale, and ‘she’ (by which I mean a life-size statue of her) was on stage while the music blared. A very curious sight for a Westerner indeed.
After taking the elevator back down from the top of the Tower, I went to Akihabara (again) to see what’s up on a Sunday. Apparently they close off the streets to cars and create a pedestrian mall because there are so many people. I was not disappointed.
The sign at the station pointing the way.
It was true what they said. The main street was closed completely to car traffic. From street level is was very much like Shibuya. Lots of people going lots of different ways. I had the itch to see it from a higher vantage point so I climbed up a random stairwell and took a pic. Not only was the main drag closed, but the other street that weren’t closed to cars were jam-packed with people, effectively closing them to cars as it would have been impossible to get a car through there.
The Japanese are very serious about closing the streets to cars. So much so that they used mini tank traps (as well as many police officers) to make sure that no one will ever under any circumstance cross that intersection with a car and have that car be functioning on the other side.
This is what the side streets looked like. Throngs of people everywhere you turned. And a few maids (bottom right) that were passing out flyers for various businesses.
Found this guy in a store. He is not to be fucked with, for the obvious reasons. Just look at him.
Cool Old Dude is apparently just as enthused as I am to be in Akihabara. This place is awesome. Jeff out.