Akihabara/ Electric Town First more Saturday pictures. The Shosen book tower is right by the Akihabara train station and has an enormous collection of anime books. There is only a small section with English books, from which I bought a charming ‘Life in Japan’ book with English annotations and will put up some pictures out of it. The detailed steam locomotive model at the Yodobashi electronics and toy store goes for ¥14,000 (US$175). I now regret not buying the cute wooden block game with the pictures on. I thought it would be too heavy. I think it’s a picture version of dominoes.
No Devil in the Details I’m a detail kind of guy and to me all the little things about visiting a foreign country together makes for a neat experience. So even if people think I’m crazy I take pictures : of the raccoons that say ‘Keep your grubby fingers out of the train car’s door pocket’ ; of the straight iced tea (wink) from the ubiquitous vending machines (delicious); of instruction stickers in the clean subway wash rooms; and of the packaging of snacks in the 24 hr marts that are scattered everywhere throughout the city.
Tokyo Tower Sunday’s mission – with the little time I had – was to chase down Tokyo Tower (東京タワー) : an icon of the city and a communications and observation tower located in Shiba Park. Its claim to fame is that, at 332.5 metres (1,091 ft), it betters the Eiffel Tower by 10m (30 ft) to be the world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower. It is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations and has an antenna at the top. I lost my way a little there, but found back alleys and man-hole plates that could pass as works of art. And I saw nary a piece of trash or a cigarette butt or anything lying on any street or sidewalk.
This is a view of Tokyo Bay (its old name was Edo Bay) with the Rainbow Bridge in the distance. Some land has been reclaimed from the sea along the bay. This view is from the 150m observation deck on the Tower. The line up to the 250m observation deck was too long and I had to abandon it.
The Narita Express back to the Airport Now it was time to check out of the hotel and make for the metro to take me to Tokyo station to catch the Narita Express back to the airport. The Express was scheduled to leave at 2.03pm, and it arrived a few minutes early at Tokyo station to allow more cars from another track to be hooked up to it (picture shows the back end of the front cars). At 2.03 pm exactly we slid out of the station and accelerated. It’s a little like sitting in an airplane, only it rides on rails, and buildings, bridges and rice paddies flash by the window. I think that’s another glimpse of the Rainbow Bridge I saw at the end of the water channel. I kept snapping at the new under-construction Tokyo Skytree in the distance and finally caught it between two buildings. It is scheduled to open in 2012. Japan’s planned switch from analog to digital for all television broadcasting by July 2011 from Tokyo Tower is problematic – the current height is not high enough to adequately support complete terrestrial digital broadcasting to the area. So the Skytree will become the digital broadcasting tower.