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.
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.
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.
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. 😉)
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.
Once again, it’s impossible to talk about Japan and NOT talk about the amazing food, we had there…
Tokyo was definitely a fun city to explore. But next time, we’ll explore the happiest place on earth, Tokyo Disney!
Until next time,