Monday, 28 July 2014

Tokyo Trip: The Tokyo Skytree and Sumida River

Night View of Skytree, Asahi Beer Hall and Sumida River
Our intention was to walk to the Tokyo Skytree from the Senso-ji temple at Asakusa. The Skytree is a 634 meter tall broadcasting station and the latest landmark of Tokyo.  It was estimated to be around 30 minutes at leisure pace. We eventually gave up the idea when my wife backache caught up with her. Before heading to the Sky Tree Line, we decided to take a rest by the Sumida River. It was a good decision as we got to enjoy the river breeze and taking in the view of the river scene. For those who did not not know, the famous Golden Kannon statue at nearby Senso-ji temple was retrieved from this river. At the opposite end, we could see the interesting Asahi Beer Hall (which looked like an overfilled beer cup with a golden beer drop at the top) which for obvious reason, was overshadowed by the newly built Tokyo Skytree. You could see how close we were away from our destination (anyone heard of Daryl Hall and John Oates's song-So Close?) For those interested, you can book a river cruise at Sumida River which can actually bring you to all the way to Odaiba.
Sumida River Scene
Bridge at Sumida River
Close Shot of Skytree
It only took less than 10 minutes to the Skytree Station by train from Asakua. We went straight to the ticket counters at level 4. The queue was surprisingly short.  I asked the counter staff if I could buy the tickets first and went up the tower around evening time (Day Ticket to Tembo Deck at 350m. Adult: 2060 Yen, Child: 930 Yen). She told us that we have to go up the tower straight after purchasing our tickets. We decided to come back later at my planned time. During the break, I grabbed the opportunity to take close up views of the Skytree. Certain shots actually required me to lie on the ground but I was not the only one around performing the feat :-). My wife and daughter did some shopping at the Tokyo Solamachi and found "treasures"at the Skytree Hello Kitty Shop. There is a Sumida Aquarium housed below the Skytree which we did not visit.

Up Up and Away!
Skytree's Hello Kitty
I timed my visit to the top of the tower at around 6 pm. Many past visitors have recommended to visit at this period as they could visit the transit from day to night and most importantly, to capture the beautiful sunset at 350 m above ground level at the Tembo deck. Before boarding the lift, there was a "lift lady" which explained to us the history and operation of the lift. All these were in Japanese and we could not comprehend a hint of what she was saying. But I really admired her dedication in her work knowing that she had to do this at least a few hundred times daily.

At 350 meter above ground

Crowd at Observation Deck
The lift brought us to the Observation Deck (Tembo Deck) within a minute. This is one of the fastest lifts in the world. The Tembo Deck was not unlike the other towers that I have visited. Just like Taipei 101 and Macau Tower, it offers a 360 degree view through full glass panels of Tokyo city. Every landmark, including the distant Mount Fuji could be seen from here. But the weather was foggy on that day and the Japan's most iconic landmark was hidden from our sight. My wife and I bemoaned our "misfortune" as we had only seen the elusive Mount Fuji once at our last trip from the Shinkansen.We cheered ourselves up again knowing the we could try to see it again from our Kamakura trip the next day from the Inamuragasaki beach.
Densely-packed building
From 350 meters above ground, all other buildings in the city were dwarfed by the Skytree. We could clearly see how densely-packed were the buildings of Tokyo. Little wonder it is the world's most populous metropolis. I could almost feel the buildings and its' people fighting for breath with one another. We saw Sumida River splitting the city almost into half and the many bridges that connected the both ends together.  I identified the location that we have taken our photo at noon and made a mental note to return to the river later and captured the night scene of the Skytree.

Sunset at Skytree
The sky was quite kind to us. We failed to witness the sunset but still could see the bright red sun descending into the cloud of mists. The city started to light up as night descended. It offered a completely different perspective of view from the day as the city was bathed in yellowish light. We noticed that for an additional fee, there were lifts which you could take to Tembo Galleria which was 450 meter above ground. We did not take up the offer as we were deterred by an electronic signage showing a warning of poor weather. We left the Skytree after spending 11/2 hours at the Tembo deck. Of course, we did not miss the opportunity to pick up some souvenirs from the Skytree shops (Tembo deck and level 5).

Spot Sumida River
At our return route, we visited Sumida River again. The Skytree and Asahi Beer Hall looked magnificent at night. I took the opportunity to capture a family photo with the two icons and Sumida River as our backdrop. During our trip back to the hotel, all of us were already anticipating our trip to Kamakura the next day. 
Close Up View of Skytree at night
Family Photo at Sumida River
For those preparing to visit the Skytree, this is the official site to visit: The Tokyo Skytree            

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  1. Ahh...we missed the view from the skytree deck since there was such a long queue, but thanks to you, I can somewhat make-up for what I missed. Lovely photographs!!

    1. Hi dwaita, worry not. I am very sure you will visit Tokyo and the Skytree again :-)! Thanks for your compliment!

  2. I heard a lot of good things about Japanese culture. It's a country that I really want to visit. What is the most amazing place to see in Japan?

    1. I rated my visit to Kiyomizudera temple at Kyoto during the Sakura blooming period as one of my most memorable visits in Japan. It was very beautiful :-)

  3. I've been to the Tokyo Tower and it was amazing. It felt very tall.
    I'm pretty sure the Sky Tree is also a great place to visit. The views from there must be very different...

    1. Hi Escapist, if you had enjoyed the view from Tokyo Tower, I am very sure you will like the view from the higher Skytree too!

  4. Hi, I just don't see any entry from you about Tsukiji Market..

    1. Hi Sya, thanks for the reminder :-p I promise to find time to write one after my trip from Osaka and Kyoto :-)

  5. Ahh...we missed the view from the skytree deck since there was such a long queue, but thanks to you, I can somewhat make-up for what I missed. Lovely photographs!!