Around Tokyo Part 1: Tokyo Skytree & Asakusa Area
March 22, 2013 § 2 Comments
It’s been a few days since I’ve arrived from Japan. To be honest, I have a pile of school works to finish before I head back to the Philippines for the Holy week (Spring break!), which is less than a week from now. Despite my ‘busy’ schedule however, I can’t really find myself to do my school tasks simply because I’m not in the mood. So let’s just say I’m waiting for my good and hardworking mood to stop by. *wink* Usually, when I want to relax, I draw some random illustrations or in some cases (like now), I blog. I just thought I could share some experiences I’ve had when I visited Japan. For this post, I’m going to tell you guys about my day trip to the Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa area.
1. Tokyo Skytree
My friends and I had our first stop at the Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー). It’s the newest and highest television and broadcast tower in Tokyo (beating Tokyo Tower). It is located in the Sumida City Ward, not too far from Asakusa.
How to get there: (Credits to http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3064.html)
The entrance to the Tokyo Skytree is on the 4th floor of Tokyo Skytree Town, which spans the area between Tokyo Skytree Station (formerly known as Narihirabashi Station) on the Tobu Isesaki Line, and Oshiage Station on the Asakusa Subway Line, Hanzomon Subway Line and Keisei Oshiage Line. Alternatively, it is a 20 minute walk across the Sumida River from Asakusa.
Tokyo Skytree can also be reached by direct buses from Tokyo Station (30 minutes, 500 yen one way, 3 buses/hour), Ueno Station (30 minutes, 200 yen, 4 buses/hour), Tokyo Disney Resort (45-55 minutes, 500 yen, 1 bus/hour) and Haneda Airport (50-70 minutes, 900 yen, 1 bus/hour).
In our case, we took the train from Shinjuku to the Tokyo Skytree Station.
Operating Hours: 8:00 to 22:00; No closing days
Fees: 2000 yen (first observatory), 3000 yen (first and second observatories), A 500 yen service fee is charged for time specific advance reservations.
The Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks, the 350m and the 450m. My friends and I went for the 350 meter high observation deck, or the Tembo deck. It’s composed of 3 floors: the highest floor has huge glass windows for a good 360 degree panoramic view of the city; the middle floor has some shops and restaurants; while the lowest floor has another observation deck with see-through floors.
The 450 meter high observation deck, or the Tembo Gallery is dubbed “The world’s highest skywalk”, with a spiral ramp encircling the upper portion of the tower. At night, you can the light spinning around it. I initially thought it was a spaceship! Unfortunately, I was not able to experience this deck because my friends and I chose to buy tickets for the lower deck. Tokyo Skytree’s height almost doubles that of Macau Tower (The observation deck of which, I’ve also visited), but at 350 meters above the ground, I did not feel so high up as I’ve felt when I was in Macau’s 360 degree cafe. I think it’s because Tokyo’s grounds are filled with high buildings to begin with, while Macau Tower is basically surrounded by flat ground. Also, the elevator that took us to the Tembo deck was so cool. Although it’s not a see-through elevator (that would be cooler!), you could see the speed of travel and the height of the tower you’re passing on a screen. Here are some photos:
We were so lucky to witness a few Sakura trees blooming because it’s too early at that time. Normally, the Sakura season starts late March to April. For lunch, my friends and I decided to eat in a restaurant nearby the Tokyo Skytree. It’s just around the corner of the street when you turn left from the main exit. It really sucks because I was not able to get the Japanese name of the restaurant. My friends are Taiwanese and they can read Kanji (Chinese characters), so they don’t really need to know how to say the name the Japanese way. In fact, they keep saying Dong-jing in reference to Tokyo. So that’s basically why I don’t know the Japanese name of the shop– I’m not forced to know it. I know, it sucks. Anyway, if any of you can read the Kanji and can tell me what this store’s name is, that would be nice.
My friend ordered this Tempura set, looks delicious right? (1,200 Yen)
Meanwhile, I ordered Katsudon. Its size is just right for my appetite. (900 Yen)
After our sumptuous lunch, my friends and I decided to walk towards Asakusa area. It’s about 20 minutes away from the Tokyo Skytree. We crossed the Sakurabashi bridge passing over the Sumida-gawa river. The bridge was quite a view in itself too, with its vivid red-colored panels. Can you see the Tokyo Skytree?
After passing the Sakurabashi bridge, we entered the Asakusa area. Here, we were able to see the Asakusa market and Sensoji Temple. Historically, the Asakusa area used to be a site for Kabuki Theaters; it was also some sort of a red light district back in the Edo Period. But even before actually getting to the Asakusa Temple proper, my attention was caught by some Japanese men dressed in some sort of traditional Japanese attire (not the Yukata though) with bands on their forehead and a flat, fabric, ninja-like footwear. It’s no surprise that they would attract some attention because they’re quite loud for regular Japanese passers by. Later on, I realized that they were calling for customers to ride their rickshaw tour service. It’s a 30-minute Asakusa tour while riding the rickshaw. Did you know that the term rickshaw actually came from the Japanese word ‘jinriksha’ which means a ‘man powered vehicle’? Cool, right? Sometime later, I saw one rickshaw tourguide in action. He was talking (comically telling a story in a loud voice) while pulling the rickshaw with two people onboard. I just thought to myself that I can’t bear letting someone carry my weight, I felt quite sad to think so. I’m weird like that. The photos below include the main gate to the Sensoji Temple, as well as some shots of the Asakusa market.
The Asakusa market is really interesting. Here, you can avail of souvenir items for some friends. I saw a lot of traditional outfits, footwears, fans, foods, decors, etc. In fact, a friend of mine who had been there last year has asked me to buy him the fabric, ninja-like footwear from Asakusa. If I had more time, I would have tried to look for some traditional Japanese pieces. Unfortunately, I did not have so much time to spare so I just took some photos of the crowd (Sorry friend!).
3. Sensoji Temple
The photos below show the Sensoji Temple. The Pagoda looks cool doesn’t it?
For dinner, we headed back to the Shinjuku area to look for some restaurants. We were in the mood for some Sashimi so we went to this small shop near Kabuki-cho. From what I recall, this dinner was the cheapest one that we had (with the exception of McDonald’s Shaka Shaka Chicken, that’s a different story).
That concludes my trip to the Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa area. I hope I did not forget to put in the details and I hope some information here can help you in your future travels. More posts about my Japan trip soon!
Credits for the photos: Chen Yu Cheng