29.9.2009 – Day 2, part 2: Tokyo

Luckily our friend called us soon afterwards and told us that he’d managed to take care of whatever business he had and that we could head to his apartment in Chôfu. We had some lunch in a MOS Burger near the station while waiting for my friend, handed him some souvenir chocolates, cleaned up and headed to Akihabara to meet Kazuo, a friend of mine from the time I when I was studying in Japan.

We met Kazuo and his sister at the Electric Town Exit of Akihabara station. Somehow he still recognized me even though my hair is shorter and my glasses are far less conspicuous. Then again, there weren’t other foreigners around, at least ones looking as lost as we did. We had a cup of coffee near the station and went walking around Akihabara to find me a new electronic dictionary. After I’d got my new toy, we decided to see Tokyo Tower.

Tokyo Tower

See this photo on Flickr

Tokyo Tower is a 333 tall communications and observation tower located on the Minato ward of Tokyo. The tower has two observation decks, one at 145 meters and another at 250 meters. Designer Tachû Naitô based the design on the Eiffel tower in Paris, but made Tokyo Tower 13 meters taller because, according to the president of the company owning the tower, it would be meaningless if the tower wouldn’t exceed the height of the Eiffer Tower. The tower was built in 1958 and has now been replaced by a new taller tower called Tokyo Sky Tree.

The ticket to the tower costs 820 and allows access to the main observatory located at 145 meters. At the second floor of the main observatory there’s a shinto shrine, where I offered my 10 yen to guarantee us a safe journey. The tickets to the upper observatory cost 600 yen, which we thought was a bit pricy, but Kazuo kindly offered to pay them. I probably don’t have to tell you that the night view of Tokyo from 250 meter was breathtaking – especially if you’re afraid of heights like I am. Unfortunately we only had an old compact camera with us (I forgot mine at my friend’s place), so these photos don’t do the view justice.
A View From Tokyo Tower

See this photo on Flickr

On the way down we saw a genuine teen idol on the main observation deck! Ayaka Umeda from AKB48 was hosting a radio show there. She seemed to have a lot of interesting things to say. We learned that she likes ice cream and that the Back Street Boys song she played earlier reminded her of her teen years. It’s good to hear that she hadn’t forgotten – she was already 20, after all. Actually none of us would’ve even known who the girl was unless we happened to come by just as she was introduced and honestly, most of the other people present seemed to be more interested in view and the small windows on the floor, through which you could see the street below the observatory. She wasn’t bad on the radio though, and she actually sounded really natural although the show seemed to be scripted. It seems that she was the Tokyo Tower girl 2009, which is why she participated in various events there.

We had made plans to eat dinner with our host so we said farewell left our Japanese friends and headed to Chôfu. Our Finnish host took us to a small restaurant that served not all kinds of Japanese and Korean dishes and surprisingly they also had pasta on the menu. I opted for a bowl of soy sauce ramen that I had waited for a long time!