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Today I had planned to meet up with an old friend from faire who is currently living in Japan teaching English.  But since I had some time to kill before meeting her in Asakusa, I thought I’d check out the Harajuku ward.

Harajuku was, quite frankly, disappointing.  None of the interesting costumers walking around, lots and lots of trendy clothing shops (that wouldn’t carry my size, so I didn’t even bother).  I could see this area being interesting to a teenager, but not so much to me.

Got myself some lunch and made my way to Asakusa to hang out with my friend.  She showed me the temple there, the rows of street vendors, and that was about it.  Maybe I’m going to the wrong places, but my impression of Tokyo in general is that there is a LOT of shopping out there, both for locals and for tourists.  Tomorrow I’m going to try to get out of the city.

After Asakusa, we decided to take the walk over to Tokyo Skytree, another tower landmark.  This is newer and taller than Tokyo Tower.  Actually, until the construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it was the tallest tower in the world at 2080 ft high.  This was a much more popular attraction than Tokyo Tower was.  Lots of (you guessed it) shopping in the Tokyo Skytree Town that makes up the area around the base.  We had to get tickets, just to get tickets to go up.

To explain, they sell the tickets in time windows.  When we got there at around 14:00, we got a flyer saying that if we came back between 15:00 and 15:30, we’d be allowed to buy the actual tickets to go up to the observation deck.  So, to kill some time, we went to the aquarium!

The Sumida Aquarium is on the 4th and 5th floors of the complex around Tokyo Skytree.  Its main attractions are an exhibit on jellyfish, a 2-story tall tank with a wide variety of sea creatures, and a big tank of penguins.  We got there during a penguin feeding time, and that was fun to watch.  But the admission cost 2000 JPY each.  Not sure if it was worth the cost to get in, but it was an effective way to spend the time before going up the tower.

The tower, while impressive views, just weren’t as great since I’d gone to Tokyo Tower the day before.  The special observation deck of Tokyo Tower is at about the same height as the normal deck on Skytree.  If you had to choose one or the other, go with Skytree.


  1. Have just run through all of your posts on Tokyo, and it brought back a bunch of memories from October 1951. Probably the only thing that hasn’t changed a lot is the Imperial Palace and Garden. Is the Ginza still a prime retail area? In 1951 the Ginza sidewalks would fill with portable stands by noon every day, selling lots of stuff cheap. That was my first experience of haggling, but clearly I wasn’t very good at it: my offers of half the asking price were always snapped up, meaning that I had been taken again. Exchange rate was 360 JPY per dollar. Likely there were no buildings taller than 5 or 10 stories in 1951. One of my strongest memories is being on the street on a rainy day and realizing that I was looking over the top of a sea of umbrellas – and I’m just 6’0”. Keep on posting; it’s a really easy way for us to travel.

  2. Col. Sanders in a kimono – only slightly creepy!

  3. Cool photos, Adam. The Skytree is terrifying – just looking at those things is frightening to me, and I’d never be able to go up. It’s an odd-looking thing, too – all exoskeleton. The jellyfish were lovely, though. They are increasing dreadfully in the waters around Japan, and beginning to have a major impact on fishing – but they are so lovely in the tanks like that. Good luck on your extra-urban attempt tomorrow!

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