Journey in Japan Part 54: Fuji in the Sky with Diamonds

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It is 16:20 and I am in Ikebukuro, standing in the observation deck on the sixtieth floor of a building called, “Sunshine City.” Considering the spectacle I am about to witness this afternoon, I can’t think of a more appropriately titled building than one that features the word ‘sunshine’ in its name.

Today there is an event that happens on just two days every year. In five minutes time the sun will set behind the peak of Japan’s most well known volcano. The event is known as ‘Diamond Fuji’, and occurs twice a year when the sun both rises and sets in perfect alignment with Mount Fuji’s summit. I am not quite sure what to expect, other than diamonds.

I wait eagerly with the crowds of people that fill up the windows along the full length of the south side of the building. As the sun quietly begins to set, disappointment fills the air.

Today has been relatively clear as far as the sky is concerned, however, the air above Mount Fuji is full of cloud, making it rather difficult to make out even the slightest outline of the mountain. No diamonds here, just a rather attractive sunset hanging above the miniature buildings that make up the endless Tokyo skyline. I can’t really complain though, I am witnessing a fantastic sunset; the sky looks amazing as it becomes illuminated by the setting sun.

I wait around for a while amongst the other photographers and Japanese people making peace signs for their ‘sunset selfies’. In one hour the sky will be dark, so in order to get my ¥620 worth, I decide to wait around. The observatory is a great spot for seeing Tokyo, offering romantic and exotically beautiful views. The building also stays open for night viewing. My plan now is to hang around a little while at 251 metres, in hopes of grabbing a few shots of Tokyo at night.

The night sets in, I take a few photographs before having a little wander around the observatory. There is a vending machine selling ice cream, so I treat myself to an inexpensive blueberry cheesecake cone. There is also a small café called, “Air Ship” selling food that looks frankly terrible. There is a small art gallery, a gift shop, and also a place where professional artists draw caricatures; all the usual money spinning nonsense. Oddly, there are also many small heart rate monitoring machines up here costing ¥100 a go. Why anyone would come all this way to get their heart rate checked is beyond me.

After exploring, I head back down the oddly named, “Shining Elevator.” I am half expecting Jack Nicholson to burst through the door at any moment, as the lift descends at six hundred metres a minute. The elevator instead turns into a planetarium, displaying a light show that could be stars, but could also be underwater sparkles; the visuals set to some relaxing space/ocean music.

At the bottom of the lift, there is a photograph that mockingly displays the spectacle that we all came here to view. Sadly, what I saw was nothing like the display promised by the poster. Just another sunset.

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