Tag Archives: Tokyo

Roppongi Hills and the Tokyo City View

29 Aug

On our last full day in Tokyo we decided to try to see the city from above even though it had turned cloudy and was threatening to rain.  There is a newer tower – the Tokyo Sky Tree, but we went for the old standard – the Tokyo City View in Roppongi Hills.

Roppongi Hills is a high end shopping mall/residential complex in the heart of the city.  The upscale stores are framed by sculptures and modern art.  We did a little window shopping as we made our way to buy our tickets inside.  One of the unique elements in the complex is an enormous metal spider that takes over the entrance.  Of course – I had to get a picture with it!

What a spider!

What a spider!

I think I could be swallowed alive!  Look how long the legs are!

I think I could be swallowed alive! Look how long the legs are!

We decided we didn’t need to go all the way to the top for the open air view – it is really high and instead made our way to the glassed in viewing area on the 52nd floor.

Tokyo City View

Tokyo spread out below us – I could see the density of the city – the number of high rise buildings – small swimming pools on the top of some, others with gardens – trying to capture every single inch of space.

Green - in patches

Green – in patches

To the northwest a large park spread across the city – an expanse of green among the man-made structures.  Like Central Park in New York or People’s Park in Shanghai – the green becomes an oasis in the center of the city.

The helpful guide to the sights (in Japanese)

The helpful guide to the sights (in Japanese)

Different views pulled me in as I snapped photos. I even noticed the buildings under construction.  Because of the density, renovating a building is more dangerous in Tokyo than other cities.  That means that keeping all pollution – noise as well as materials – low is key.  The buildings are wrapped as tight as presents and then the construction can be done without disturbing the neighbors.

A main highway - flanked by tall buildings

A main highway – flanked by tall buildings

I enjoyed my visit up to the Tokyo City View and would recommend it for anyone who wants to see Tokyo from high above.

Posing over 50 floors up

Posing over 50 floors up

What do you notice high in the sky?  I realize I have been to towers all over the world now – Tokyo, Shanghai, Taiwan, Chicago, New York, Paris… What next?

Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

4 Aug

After a busy day exploring in Tokyo we found ourselves at the Meiji shrine in late afternoon.  After exiting the subway station we turned and suddenly found ourselves in a huge park.  The trees towered overhead, shading us from the late afternoon sun and welcomed us into the ground of the shrine.

It was an interesting contrast between the ultra modern subway and train system and the shrine which looked as though it has been there for hundreds of years.  Tokyo is a city of contrasts and this was one of the largest ones I felt during my visit there.

As we entered through the large main gates it felt like we were stepping back into another world.  In fact, though, the Shinto shrine – dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken was rebuilt after World War II in the late 50s.

Posing in front of the entrance gate

Posing in front of the entrance gate

Lighting the way (though not needed during the day)

Lighting the way (though not needed during the day)

After the main entrance was a display of sake barrels that were donated to the shrine.  The bright colors and intricate wrappings almost made me want to try the sake inside.  Almost – that was one part of Japanese culture that I wasn’t up for sampling on this trip.

Barrels of sake - which is your favorite?

Barrels of sake – which is your favorite?

I like the red colored barrels.

I like the red colored barrels.

Then, before the official shrine itself was a place of purification.  There were ladles available to wash your hands, head and mouth prior to praying.

Washing area to purify before the entrance

Washing area to purify before the entrance

Walking around the inner area there was also a wall of prayers written in many languages where people put their wishes and dreams.  We didn’t write our own, but viewed what others were hoping for.  It reminded me of the wishes I saw in Seoul and the locks attached to the Buddhist shrines in China.

Approaching the main shrine

Approaching the main shrine

Spotless grounds with blue skies

Spotless grounds with blue skies

Blessings

Blessings

And more blessings

And more blessings

Like everywhere else we went in the city – the shrine was spotless.  It was a place of prayer and intentions and the tourists that mixed in with the visitors were respectful.  We were even interviewed by high school students practicing their English and trying to see where the visitors to the Shrine were from.  I haven’t had that type of interaction with language students for quite and it brought a smile to my face.

I was lucky to be able to see this side of Tokyo on my visit and would recommend a visit to the shrine if you have time.  The grounds are extensive and with the large trees a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle outside.

Where do you find peace in busy cities?  This was the first Shinto shrine that I have been to – it is different than Buddhism or Hinduism, less gaudy – different rituals.  Does anyone have insight on the differences?

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