We have had so many blue day and sunshine days while visiting Tokyo that we visited several of the great viewpoints that are dotted across the city. A few years ago we had already been to the Metropolitan Government Building and its free viewing platform, recently we visited the Mori Tower and hence that left us with two more on our list: Skytree (expensive and a little further away) and the Tokyo Tower.
The Tokyo Tower looks a little bit like the Eiffel Tower – in terms of its structure. But not in terms of its colour – the 332.9 metres high tower is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations. It is the world’s tallest, self-supported steel tower and 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower.
It is the second-tallest structure in Japan and was built in 1958 (and it used to be the country’s tallest structure from its completion until 2012 when it was surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree).
The tower has two observation decks, and I have been twice – but only to the two-story Main Observatory, which is located at 150 metres. The views from there are beautiful enough (at least for me) so I did not want to spend an extra 700 yen to go up to the smaller Special Observatory at 249.6 metres (sometimes the wind is too strong and the special observatory might be closed).
Thanks to the tower’s central location, the Main Observatory offers an interesting view of the city despite being only at a relatively moderate height. There are also some “lookdown windows” in the floor to stand on, but they are quite small. And even a small shrine is on the second floor of the Main Observatory.
A little East to the Tokyo Tower is a beautiful temple that can also be seen from above.
The Zojoji Temple was built in the year 1393 and moved to its present location in 1598.
Most of Zojoji’s buildings are recent reconstructions except for the main entrance gate, the Sangedatsumon, which has survived the many past fires, earthquakes and wars and dates from 1622.
A little bit further away (maybe best to take a taxi) is the Hama Rikyu Garden – a beautiful place to relax. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hama Rikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery. More details about the garden can be found here.
The garden was originally built as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), but later served as a strolling garden and as an imperial detached palace before eventually being opened to the public. Remains of these old roles are still visible throughout the garden including several reconstructed duck hunting blinds, an old moat and reconstructed rock wall.
Visitors can access the park via either of the two northern gates or via the Tokyo Cruise Ship as a 35-minute ride from Asakusa – years ago I had been on a boat trip on the Sumida River and we could have easily gotten off at the Hama Rikyu Garden.