Friday, June 15, 2018

Tokyo Tower and Imperial Palace

Third day in Tokyo. We visited Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at Shinjuku.

Tokyo Tower is no doubt a landmark of Tokyo. Built in 1958, the 333-meter tower, however, has now been surrounded by skyscrapers. The tower used to be the tallest structure in Japan, until the completion of Sky Tree in 2012.  

We initially planned to visit the main observatory deck of Tokyo Tower. However, at 150 meters, it has not much view to offer. So we took the advice from a few travel bloggers to visit Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at Shinjuku with free observatory at 202 meters. Nevertheless, Tokyo Tower is still worth a visit. Tokyo Tower and Zojo-Ji Temple complex is around 10 minutes walk from Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Metro Line.

Taking photo with Tokyo Tower from a distance away is easier. Once we get closer, the view of the tower will be seriously blocked by other buildings. We went to Kochiyasanaeundo Park just to take photo with the tower. It was not an ideal place at all. The best place to take the photo should be somewhere around Shiba Park (Zojo-Ji Temple area).

We took our morning tea at the complex below the tower, grabbed our opportunity to take photo with Giant Hello Kitty, and roamed around the area nearby (including moving blindly without clear guide into Kochiyasanaeundo Park) for around 40 minutes. Then we continued our journey to Imperial Palace from Onarimon Metro Station.

Tokyo tower can be seen clearly from the exit at Akabanebashi Station. Cross the road, walk for 500 meters, and we can see Zojo-Ji Temple Complex on our right.

Tokyo Tower is nice to see from afar. Grab the opportunity to take photo with the tower while we were far from it.

The closer we go towards the tower, the harder we can squeeze the whole tower into our photo.

The ticket counter and the lobby area with very few visitors. It was around 11:30 am.

This is the misleading sign that leads us to another park.

Tokyo Imperial Palace (Kokyo) is the current residence of  Japan Imperial Family. It was the site of the castle of ruling Shogun. The Shogunate was defeated by the Emperor in 1868. The imperial palace was destroyed in World War 2, but the buildings were restored with the same style years later.

Of course, we couldn't enter the palace. We could however take a leisure walk around Kokyo Gaien- the large park in front of the palace entrances. The park is enormously big in the middle of skyscrapers. It is a must visit site in Tokyo. The park is located 500 meters away from Tokyo Station. We walked around and enjoy the green surrounding for 1 hour.

Kokyo Gaien is surrounded by moats and stone walls. These defensive structures are now decorations in the middle of Tokyo.

 Beautiful lawn and green trees around the park.

 Huge area of greenery in the middle of the city.

Pine trees represent longevity, tough, and resilient.

The lawn was so nicely maintained that we could sit, or even lay on them (and it was officially allowed).

 Bronze statue of Kusonoki- a samurai and strategist who was loyal to the Emperor family.

The gates and the palace buildings which we can see from the park.

This is the scene that we like the most- the heart of Tokyo city from the gate of the palace. Click on the photo for a bigger view.

Tokyo Station is located opposite of the imperial palace. We went to Shinjuku from Tokyo Station and took our lunch at Shinjuku.

Shinjuku is a great place for shopping. However, we visited Shinjuku for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building- where we can access to the observatory at 202 meters.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building can be reached by underground passages, so we can avoid the traffic on the surface.

It took us 15 minutes to walk from Shinjuku Metro Station to the foot of the government building (we took around 5 minutes to find our way).

From the hall at ground level, we can choose to go for north or south tower (upper left). Again, it was lucky for us as the queue was short (upper right). We were required to go through security check before entering the lift. Guides were provided around the observatory (lower right). Souvenir stalls were available, selling cute and anime related items. A free water fountain and a few vendor machines were available on the observatory.

 Nice view from the tower.

 On a clear sunny day, we should be able to see Fuji Mountain from this place.

The observatory of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers nice view with fully air-conditioned deck and plenty of chairs for resting. Is it really better than Tokyo Tower? Well, if you wish to take a bird-eye view on Tokyo, then the higher the better. For us, Tokyo Tower is still a place that we should visit, at least to take a photo with it.

We reached Ikebukuro at around 6:30 pm. We shopped around the shopping area there before we went back to rest. Next, Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum of Nature and Science.

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