An Asian Detour to … Tokyo, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series on Tokyo. Part 1 can be found here

Tokyo is a fun name and an energetic city, but one thing it isn’t…is architecturally beautiful. Maybe I’m spoiled by living in Europe and being within a stone’s throw of cities such as Paris, London and Prague, but the overall boxy tall buildings of Tokyo did not impress me. That being said, there were some interesting and/or beautiful spots to be found, such as Zojoji Temple, Sensoji Temple and the Tokyo Tower.

The Tokyo Tower and Zojoji Temple

Would it be embarrassing to admit that this emoji 🗼 is what moved me to visit the Tokyo Tower? I’ve always been interested in this Eiffel Tower lookalike (side note: Why don’t they have an emoji for the Eiffel Tower?!). As iconic to Tokyo as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, we were happy to take a look at this tower from several different viewpoints.

A mix of the past and present: Zojoji Temple with the Tokyo Tower in the background
Sangedatsumon, the large wooden gate that greets you to the Zojoji Temple grounds. This wooden gate was built in 1622, making it the oldest wooden building in Tokyo

The temple complex was built at the end of the 14th century and moved to its present location at the end of the 16th century by a Tokugawa shogun. At its peak, this temple complex had over 120 buildings. However, with the exception of Sangedatsumon (above), everything was destroyed during World War II. The main temple hall was rebuilt in the 1970’s.

Sentai Kosodate Jizo (Unborn Children Garden)
Multiple messages surrounding on the temple grounds

The Tokyo Tower and the World Trade Center

With the abundance of tall buildings all around, it’s not hard to get a nice panoramic birds-eye view of the city, but due to various recommendations, we chose the World Trade Center, located about a 5-10 minute walk away from Zojoji Temple. The 40-story building itself is nothing to look at itself (hence no photos), but it boasts some great views of the city from the top floor for the very reasonable price of 620 yen (under $6). Apparently, you can even see Mount Fuji on a clear day (it wasn’t for us). The best view, of course, was that of the Tokyo Tower. My best advice for views such as these – get there about an hour before sunset and you can get daytime, sunset and nighttime views.

Tokyo Tower at dusk…
…at sunset…
…and at night.

If you’re wondering if the Tokyo Tower is a knock-off of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, well, you’re right! Built as large tower that could broadcast to all of Japan, the Tokyo Tower was built in 1958. The designer, Tachu Naito, took his inspiration from the Eiffel Tower, except that it is taller, at 333m (1093 feet) and almost half the weight – about 4000 tons compared with 7300 tons. (Leave it to the Japanese to borrow someone else’s idea and improve on it. 😉)

Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple gate: The dream…
…and the reality.

Standing out in bright contrast to Zojoji Temple, Sensoji Temple is full of color. And people. Constructed in 645 C.E. and rebuilt after the second World War, the Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo. Showing that commercialism and religion have a long history together, a long row of small shops line the way to the temple’s entrance, as they have for centuries.

5-story adjacent pagoda
Looking at Tokyo Skytree in the distance, the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world (after the Burj Khalifa)

Tokyo Eats

Once again, it’s impossible to talk about Japan and NOT talk about the amazing food, we had there…

Have you ever eaten a a Shabu Shabu restaurant? It was our first experience and absolutely amazing! With Shabu Shabu, you have a hot pot with broth (2 different kinds as you can see here), and you can cook different types of meat and vegetables (as much as you can eat). You order all of your food on an iPad and they will bring it all to your table. After you are finished cooking everything, you can order noodles to eat with the broth that is so flavorful at that point – absolutely delicious!
And if that’s not enough, you can order all the sushi you’d like, too!

Tokyo was definitely a fun city to explore. But next time, we’ll explore the happiest place on earth, Tokyo Disney!

Until next time,

S

2 responses to “An Asian Detour to … Tokyo, Part 2

  1. Just so full of interesting details to go w/ all the amazing photos. Thanks for bringing me along on my armchair!

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