Friday 19th October
Awoke to a beautiful day and decided today would be a good time to go and see the view from the new Tokyo Skytree ( it was entered in the Guiness Book of Records as the World's Tallest Tower on November 17, 2011 but has since been pipped for the title). The metro line, Hanzomon, by our hotel continued on to Oshiage where the Skytree was. We got there about 9:30am, it was only four stops but we had a late start this morning. As soon as you exited the station you could see the tower, no mistaking that you were in the right area.
We walked toward the tower and finally found a sign pointing to Tokyo Skytree Station (to get to this station you need to catch a different line in and change trains, much easier our way) and the way in. We caught the lift to the 4th floor to buy tickets to the first level which they call Floor 350 (350m high) or Tembo Deck. The queue to buy the tickets snaked through divided lines all through the room and around the corner where you could just see the ticket counter. It seemed to moved constantly so we were encouraged. Ten minutes after we arrived the queues were outside the building and snaking through lines out there.
We made it around the corner and would you believe another room full of queued lines. We finally got to the ticket counter at 11:20am and after a short walk to the lifts, where you had a bag search before passing through, it was then a short queue of 5 minutes as there were 3 lifts going up to the Tembo Deck. All very controlled only a set number allowed to go through to queue for lift and then the tape is closed behind you.
View from deck was amazing, such a large area. Apparently you can see Mt Fuji but there was a haze in the distance. Maybe if it had snow on it would have stood out but I could not find it. A big promotion was through the place for Halloween, decorations and photo spots featuring pumpkins and the like. We walked around the deck and the join another queue, this time to get tickets for the next level, Floor 445 (445m high) or Tembo Galleria.
Another 20 minutes passed while I stood in the queue and Chris went to get coffee. Then, you guessed it, queue for the lifts up to the Tembo Galleria level. probably another 10 minutes, whatever it was a breeze after the queuing downstairs. This lift ride, or Tembo Shuttle, gave you glimpses of the outside view and the lift system above through a clear ceiling as you went up in about 50 secs at a speed of 600 m per minute. The oohs and aahs from the Japanese in the lift were funny to hear, so synchronised.
Another fantastic view and this level had fewer people and a much better cooling system. That was the aahs we made as we stepped from the lift into the cool. This floor is a sloped 110 metres walk that takes you to the highest point you can go, the Sorakara Point, at 451.2m before sloping down to the lifts back down to Floor 345. Of course there were queues here too and we were rather snuggly pack into these lifts. On this floor were stairs to go down to Floor 340 which has the glass floor. Surprise surprise no queues for this but a queue for the Skytree shop. Sorry, if you want me to spend money in your shop I am not going to queue for the privilege.
The glass floor was not as big as we expected, just two patches and one of those was solely for those paying to have professional photos so it was a bit of a squash and nudge your way in. Then the final line of queues for the ride to the 5th floor. While we were waiting the 'Skytree hostess' chatted to us about where we were from,how far we had travelled, she was very chatty and thanks us many times for coming today. sounds like it is always like this unless the weather is bad, naturally. There was another shop on the 5th floor with no queues so we had a look before heading down to the 4th, by stairs, where we came in. It was now 1pm. What a mammoth exercise. If you are intending to go it was interesting to see that the queues were half the size at this time. Also it will cost you 2000 yen each to the first level and another 1000yen each to the second level. Well worth the visit and view, maybe bring a book or plan your next holiday while you wait.
As we left there were two guys handwashing a train. You can see why their trains are so clean.
We were back at the hotel by 1:30pm and thought we should actually go out the front of the hotel and see what's there. A street full of shops. We tried to have lunch at a place called Tamahide, I had read had the 'finest oyakodon (chicken,egg on rice) in the city but it stopped serving lunch at 1pm. So we walked a big loop around and headed back to the hotel stopping at, what turned out to be, a Chinese food shop. Liked the look of the rice dishes. Have been missing rice as Japan seems to favour noodles and while I like them I prefer them cooked but dry and not swimming in liquid.
So we ordered at dish each of rice, a pork fried rice and a chilli BBQ pork fried rice. The woman did look at us a bit strangely and repeated order, to which we agreed. She bought over a bowl of egg soup each and then went away with our order. Soup was magic and hit the spot and then the two huge plates of fried rices arrived. As the good kids we were bought up to be, we cleaned our plates, it was had not too it was so good and waddled out of the shop. Cost 1,600 yen ($18) and basically put paid to any thoughts of dinner.
Checked out departure times for the limousine buses that run to the airport, right next door to hotel. Couldn't buy for tomorrow but she said since we weren't leaving until the afternoon there wouldn't be a problem, only the morning ones sold out. Plus an added bonus was the afternoon costs were cheaper because less popular.
Headed off on the metro again to try and find these Louis Vuitton shops in Shinjuku. Got caught out at our change of trains as the line I planned to follow, Shinjuku line, was not part of the Tokyo metro therefore not part of our 2 day metro pass. Basically you put you card into the ticket gate and instead of a green light and doors staying open, you get a red light and the doors shoot across. There's a ticket gate inspector on every gate. He was very nice explaining that this line was exempt, so we bought ticket instead.
Shinjuku was just in dusk when we arrived and we tried our best to find the store but no luck. At one point we crossed four sets of rail tracks twice and they have a very good control system of crossing gates and arrows telling you a train is coming and in which direction. They were constantly going so you had to be quick to cross. While stopped the second time I took the opportunity for a photo and this train with the driver sitting above the main part of train in a higher cab stuck his hand out and waved to me.
We came back on the Marunounchi line which was included on our pass, just took a walk from one side of the station to the other to find it. What you will do for a free ride. You may be interested to know that both Chris and I have lost weight on this trip due to the huge amount of walking we have done. Couldn't work out why my trousers were suddenly so long and that was why. We also like to run or race up the stairs instead of using the escalators as they are soooo slow and crowded. What the Japanese must think of these silly westerners.
Last photo taken on metro train trying to show how you can see from carriage to carriage to carriage. When you go through a bend, it's like you are sitting in a smile.