Endless Urban Sprawl

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Endless Urban Sprawl

Hey everyone!  Sorry for being a little slow in making posts in the past week.  The semester is coming to a close soon here in Tokyo (mid-April) so I have been buried under mounds of Japanese homework and essays from all my classes.  This past Wednesday I went to visit Tokyo Tower with my friend Nik.  Tokyo Tower is not too far from TUJ, about a 20 minute walk from Azabu Hall.  We met up at the Azabujuban subway station and headed over to the tower.

The cool thing about Tokyo Tower is that you can spot it from almost anywhere in the Minato-ku/Roppongi area.  Because of this we took an unconventional route to get to the location, periodically looking up into the sky to see if we were headed in the right direction.  On our way we passed temples nestled in between apartment complexes and mansions.  Occasionally we spotted an enormous embassy building of a foreign country, surrounded entirely by guards and policemen.  The Minato-ku section of Tokyo is one of wealthier, as well as more international, sections of the megacity.  Lots of overseas companies have their offices here.  When walking in the area I got the feeling that I was walking through a mix of a few different American cities.  Minato has the hilly streets and Californian architecture of San Francisco, the political feel of Washington, D.C. (due to the various embassies), as well as restaurants and cafes of various cuisines that gave the area a New York feel.

When we started to get near Tokyo Tower, we sort of got stumped as to where the entrance might be.  We gave in out of eagerness and decided to ask a nearby police officer for directions.  One thing I noticed about living in Japan is that a significant amount of Japanese people (not all) assumes that 外人 (foreigners) do not know Japanese.  Even when I ask a minor question (like directions in this case) in Japanese to a Japanese person they will start out first speaking Japanese, pause, and then try the best they can to finish their answer in English.  It’s always a funny exchange.  Who knows, maybe the person is using the opportunity to practice their English just like Nik and I were with our Japanese.

Since I’ve started to get a feel for certain cities and areas within Tokyo, and because public transportation is so efficient, my idea of Tokyo as a large megacity has somewhat diminished.  As the elevator took us up the Tower to the main observatory, I realized how wrong I really was.  No matter what side of the observatory I decided to look out of, I couldn’t even see where the urban sprawl ended.  We arrived at the perfect time to see the lights gradually illuminate the city, which gave Tokyo a totally different vibe than the moments prior.  The observatory itself was also very large.  In addition to a souvenir shop there was also a café, restaurant, and live music space, and club.  The special observatory supposedly had even more things for entertainment.  If I ever come back I will definitely shell out the extra yen to check out what the upper floors have to offer.  Afterwards we headed back home towards Tamachi station; and of course we had to stop by our regular spot, ココカレー (Coco Curry), for dinner.  Until next time everyone, peace.

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