See the sights of Tokyo — and save money
November 11, 2007
Tokyo Tower, the world’s largest self-supporting steel tower, has been open since 1958, allowing visitors to overlook the city from its observation decks — day or night.
Tokyo is expensive.
The phrase “Tokyo decadence” is not lost on me. So where do you go in Tokyo when you don’t have a lot of money? To Tokyo Tower, one of the greatest landmarks in the area.
The first time I glimpsed it was on the big screen in “You Only Live Twice,” a 1967 Sean Connery James Bond movie. The tower was the only elevated thing in sight as Bond flew his helicopter around Tokyo. Today, the surrounding area has grown, but the tower still stands.
The tower is within sight of Roppongi, just a mile up the street. Since it is surrounded by smaller buildings, it can clearly be seen from many districts in Tokyo. Larger than the Eiffel Tower, it is the world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower.
Upon arrival at the tower, you can either purchase a ticket for the elevator, or you can walk for free up the stairs. However, the stairs take a bit longer and it could take 20-30 minutes to reach the lower observation deck.
The upside is that it is a better workout than a Stairmaster.
Even though there was a line, I waited and rode the elevator up. Waiting in line were schoolchildren, tourists and elderly Japanese, some with an assortment of strange possessions. One woman, for example, lugged her suitcase into the elevator with the rest of the ragtag crew. Perhaps she was planning an overnight stay.
Riding up, I no longer wondered what sardines felt like and was happy I brought my breath mints.
It took the elevator about three minutes to reach the first observation deck. But it felt like an eternity.
The tower has two observation decks. The lower deck can be reached by climbing about 150 stairs. Entrance to the upper deck costs 600 yen and you must take an elevator. There wasn’t much of a difference in the views. I preferred the lower deck where things were easier to see.
The tower holds several shops and restaurants, including a wax museum and aquarium.
A word of warning — don’t visit on a weekend. If I were to go again, I would choose a weekday afternoon. The weekend crowd is almost unbearable.
if you goTokyo Tower
Hours: Main and Special Observatory is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.Fees: Main observatory: adults 820 yen, teenagers 460 yen and children 310 yen Special observatory: adults 600 yen, teenagers 400 yen and children 350 yen.Directions: • 5-minute walk from Akabane- bashi Station • 7-minute walk from Kamiyacho Station • 30-minute walk from Roppongi Crossing