Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tokyo - Day 2 - Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji Temple

Day 2 - Tokyo Tower and the Zojoji Temple

We woke up bright and early (well, not too early - didn't want to get on the subway during rush hour!) and headed over to Tokyo Tower. It was a quick 2-stops on the subway from our hotel and Michael was excited, as he had seen it in the Cars 2 movie.

Tokyo Tower is very similar to Paris' Eiffel Tower, and is actually a little bit taller. It's painted orange and white to comply with aviation requirements. It was the tallest structure in Japan before the Tokyo Skytree was built in 2011.

We boarded the elevator to the first level and enjoyed the view.

There were also some interesting items on display, such as these figures from a fairy tale.

You could purchase small, wooden plaques (known as Ema) to write wishes on. They are left at shrines in the hopes that spirits will take them and grant the wishes.

We had to make sure Mater and McQueen made it to the top of Tokyo Tower, so we purchased tickets up to the top level.

I laughed when I saw the sign mentioning that operation of the Special Observatory could be suspended in rough weather.

And then we boarded the elevator, where all you saw was glass and beams...and felt it swaying in the wind...not cool!

Okay, a little cool. There's Mt. Fuji in the distance.

There's the Skytree.

There's Odaiba, a man-made island area of entertainment and home of the Fuji TV building:

And here was the neighboring Zojoji temple (more on that later).

Down we went... yet another observation deck, which had these cool lookdown windows:

At the bottom level, we looked over the displays and posed for pics:

One of Rob's better moments as a zombie - ha ha!

We stopped for lunch in the downstairs cafeteria. We picked the stall and food we wanted, and then had to feed money into a wall machine to get our order tickets. Thankfully, there were matching pictures and we had sort of figured out the conversion rates at this point.

We weren't totally sure what we had ordered, other than rice and soups, but it was tasty.

Our next stop was the basement level Aquarium, since our little guy loves all things ocean related.

It was simple and mostly large tanks, but it was a nice little aquarium. Here are some pictures:

Skeleton fish!

We fed the koi fish a quick treat and then headed outside.

Okay, first we stopped to use the rest room, and I'm sure the other women in the bathroom were wondering why I was taking photos, but I couldn't resist. I didn't think it was possible to have more buttons than the Korean toilets, but here there were 3 flushing options... well as volume level controls for the sound options.

I gather, from reading the instructions, that the water sound effect is available (with adjustable levels) in order to discourage patrons from continuously flushing the toilet and wasting water. Oh, my!

The other cool thing was this all-in-one sink: soap dispenser, water faucet, and hand dryer.

The Tokyo Tower has two mascots, named Older Brother (blue) and Younger Brother (red), who were created in 1998 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo Tower.

We took a walk outside through neighboring Shiba Park.

Found the remains of the Suiro aqueduct:

and admired the park's entry gate:

The front of the gate had two very serious gaurdians:

Right next door was the Zojoji Temple, the main temple for the Jodu sect of Buddhism, founded in 1393. It was very peaceful and we were able to take a good number of pictures - enjoy:

We found a tree planted by George H. W Bush in 1982 when he visited as Vice President:

A water station to quench your thirst:

As there was no ceremony going on, pictures were allowed inside:

We ventured to the building next door, where there was a prayer service with drumming going on:

After purchasing some items in the gift shop area, we walked around the grounds for a bit:

There is one garden filled with stone statues of children, representing the stillborn and aborted babies of Japan, where parents can go to pray for a quick trip to the afterlife for their little lost ones.

We found more messages and wish emas here:

We also found one more tree of note - this giant Himalayan Cedar, planted in 1879 by President Ulysses S. Grant when he visited the temple.

On the way out, we noticed a poster for an event to be held the next day. February 3rd is Setsubun, or Bean Throwing Day, in Japan - a celebration of Spring where beans are thrown to ward off evil spirits. The beans are thrown at doors or at people wearing demon masks, while shouting "Demons out! Luck in!" (鬼は外! 福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!). I caught a clip on the news the next day - it looked pretty rowdy at the Asakusa temple, so it was probably best that we skipped that with our little guy.

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