Today I take the Tobu Skytree Line just one stop, to Tokyo Skytree Station. If I am completely honest, I could have just walked it, it isn’t far. I blame the convenience of Japan for my laziness. I have been in Tokyo quite a while now, and with Tokyo Skytree practically on my doorstep, I decide I might as well take the plunge. ‘Plunge’ probably not the best word to have used.
Penguins, the Universe and Everything
My initial plan today is to head to the top of Skytree and take some incredible photographs of Tokyo from the observation deck, but instead, I see a sign for the Sumida Penguin Aquarium and my interest is piqued. I walk up to the ticket booth. “How many people?” I am asked by the lady at the counter. I make a deliberate point of looking over my own shoulder and around into the deserted space behind me, before indicating that it would be just one. I hand over my ¥2,050 and enter the aquarium.
The first level of the aquarium is dedicated to living aquascapes, a word I heard for the first time yesterday, and will no doubt hear again tomorrow. The aquarium is quite small but does have some interesting things to see, most notable are the Jellyfish and Sharks. The highlight for me, however, is the aptly named Animals Enjoying Water section. This is home to Fur Seals and loads of Penguins. They seem to be enjoying the water.
On a Clear Day I Can See Forever
After leaving the aquarium I decide to enter the tallest tower in the world. I pay ¥2,060 and wait anxiously for the lift. Surprisingly there is absolutely no queue. The lift travels so fast that it makes my ears pop. 350 meters later, I arrive at the Tembo Observation Deck. The view is staggering.
I wander the massive observation deck for a while, trying carefully not to get too close to the edge. There is an option to pay an additional ¥1030 to go up to the next deck, a further one-hundred metres. I think it is terrible that this was not advertised to me until I am already 350 meters in the sky; a sneaky trick to try and make me pay more. I decide not to bother, I’ve already spent a small fortune on penguins today. Instead, I take the escalator down ten meters. Here there is a glass viewing point where I can stare at the traffic on the street below. Oddly, it doesn’t look like I am too high up from here.
There is another area where I can actually stand on a glass platform and have my photograph taken by the staff, although I can’t use my own camera. All I want to do is take a photograph of my foot on the glass panel, but I am not allowed. Another trick; if you like the photograph you can spend even more money and buy it.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
I take the lift back down to the inescapable 5th floor. It would be unfair to say that the most exciting part of the Tokyo Skytree experience is the lift, but then again, I am quite the unfair person. As I had imagined, the lift exits into the gift shop. The train station is on the first floor, and surprisingly I am forced to exit through not just one gift shop, but three.
The area beneath Tokyo Skytree, known to locals as Solamachi, contains a wealth of shops selling everything you can imagine. The area itself is so big, that I don’t pass on the chance to wander around aimlessly, passing restaurants, clothes shops, and character good shops. A highly recommended diversion following a day of penguins, towers, and other delights.