Tuesday, August 12, 2008


All photo's in this article have been taken from www.flickr.com

On Monday, Amy and I decided to head into Tokyo for some sightseeing. Here's how it went, with a little history thrown in for good measure!

In 1868 Emperor Meiji moved his capital from Kyoto to Edo, renaming in Tokyo (the Eastern Capital), Shinjuku became the railhead linking the city to Japan’s western provinces. Travellers would rest and refresh themselves for the final leg of their journey to the imperial palace. The popularity and importance of Shinjuku has not waned, and today 3 million commuters pass through Shinjuku Eki every day, making it the busiest station in Japan.

By day, Shinjuku Eki is a huge concentration of retail stores, malls and discounters of every description. By night, the area is an equally impressive collection of bars, parlours and restaurants – just about anything that amuses, arouses or intoxicates can be bought here, if you know where to look.

The main reason for me wanting to come to Shinjuku is the Skyscraper district. I know it's a little bit sad, but they are an impressive sign of what can be accomplished when you put your mind to it. The area also adds some definition to an otherwise un-defined Tokyo skyline.

Tokyo Tocho – Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office
Built by architect Kenzo Tange, this huge city hall complex was started in 1988 and was completed in 1991 at a staggering cost of 157 billion yen! That is roughly £780 million, that’s the same as some developed countries GDP.

The main building has 48 stories, and it splits on the 33rd floor into two towers. There are observation decks on the 45th floor of both towers and I’m told that on a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, it wasn't a clear day when we visited, BUT, we did take a photo of where Fuji should be!

We headed for the south tower, and had a short wait when we entered the building for the elevators to the observation decks, we also had to get our baggage searched. I must say that I was a little disappointed when we got to the 45th floor. The view was ok, but the visibility wasn't good enough to see any great distances. I think I was naively expecting something similar to the view from the 110 storey New York World Trade Centre which I visited before they were destroyed in 2001.

The floor had windows all the way around the outside to view the city, there was a small cafe in the middle and a tiny gift shop. There was also a small exhibition for Japan's bid for the next Olympics. After a while of looking at the city, and posing for a few pictures, we decided to join the huge queue to get back down to the ground floor.

Next, we decided to go to the Shinjuku Park Tower Building
for lunch. After a very nice curry from an Indian restaurant, we had a short walk back to the station, where we had a look around.

Subnade –the most extensive underground arcade in Tokyo
This place is full of shops and restaurants, all underground... I'm sure this is really impressive, it's certainly an impressive piece of engineering, and it is huge. But by the time we got here, I was tired and hungry, so we got some snacks and headed back home. Maybe next time we're coming through here I'll appreciate it a little more... maybe.


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