Japan Day 26 - Tokyo

Our flight back to the western world wasn’t until late in the afternoon, and so Fletch and I decided to spend our final morning visiting Tokyo Skytree. We had been meaning to go, and I had been scanning the weather apps for the clearest day possible. Today was our lucky day.

We checked out of the hotel and left our bags in the lobby, then rode the subway over to Japan’s tallest structure. The Skytree is new since my last visit to Japan, and definitely demands attention when you catch a glimpse for the first time. At 2,080 feet, it is the tallest tower in the world, and the second tallest free-standing structure in the world (the tallest going to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). Tokyo's second tallest building by comparison is only half that.

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree has two different observation decks, one at 350 meters, and a second at 450 meters. We bought tickets to the first observation deck, and caught a final glimpse of the elusive Mt. Fuji. It was cloudy in that direction, but we were able to make out the majestic mountain’s outline. How nice of her to come out to say goodbye to us.

The size of Tokyo from 350 meters was overwhelming. In every direction, there was nothing but concrete jungle as far as the eye could see. Miles and miles of square, grey buildings.

Imagine this view times 360 degrees. 

When we had made our rounds, we bought tickets up to the next deck at 450 meters. This time the elevator was glass as it whisked us upwards. The experience was only slightly nauseating, and has only given me a few bad dreams since. Sitting in a glass elevator a quarter mile up in the sky will really make you hope that this isn’t the moment that the big earthquake decides to come.

We were let out onto a spiral path, one side of which was lined with windows, allowing for an even more vertigo-inducing view than before. The other side was a gallery of life-sized, Marvel superhero posters, and we were amused to observe that the rest of the crowd was more interested in taking selfies next to Iron Man than the actual view. Had they only looked out the window, they would have seen the tiny Ant-Man in the corner of the sill, surrounded by ants.

Life-sized Ant-Man inside a display case. 

On our way back to the metro, we passed by a takoyaki stand, and so decided to stop for one last round of the lava-hot octopus balls. We might as well take advantage of all the things we wouldn’t be able to find in a few short hours.

Our last moments happened in a blur. We retrieved our backpacks from the hotel, and then tried to figure out how to get the remaining balances on our metro cards refunded. (Tip for travelers: you have to go to the ticket office for the refund; the machines won’t do the job). I sent Fletch to get one last round of 7-Eleven drinks for the road, and then sat by Hachiko and waited for my friend who gifted us with some macaroons for the journey. And then we were on the Narita Express, being whisked back to the airport; the past month having gone by in as much a blur as the scenery out the window.

My last memory of Japan was sitting on the plane, waiting to taxi, when our seat-mate sat down next to us with a big bag of fast food french fries. I found the scene quite humorous. For one, where did she even find those? And she must have really been desperate to get back to America to choose french fries, of all things, as her final meal.