Tag: Akasaka

Roppongi Hills: Tokyo From Above

Tonight we visited the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, a skyscraper with great views of the surrounding city.

The building is less than a five-minute walk from my brother’s apartment, and at 54 stories and 781 feet it’s the sixth-tallest building in Tokyo.

 

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The neon blue floors of the foreground building are hotel suites with one hell of a view of the city.

Mori Tower has a 54th floor “Sky Deck” which was closed this evening due to the weather, so the observation deck on the 52nd floor was our only choice.

It doesn’t really matter — the view is spectacular and the observation deck features a 360-degree view of the city through floor-to ceiling windows. It’s even got signs pointing out the neighborhoods you’re looking at from each angle, and a section where you can pull up a chair, have a cup of tea and look over the city.

Even from this height Tokyo extends to the horizon in every direction save for the waterfront near Haneda, an endless sprawl of shops, homes, office buildings, izakayas, plazas and parks.

All photos by Big Buddy using a Canon T3. Click on the photos for higher-resolution versions. Trust me, it’s worth it. 🙂

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A view from Mori Tower’s observation deck. Shibuya is the bright spot to the right.
Tokyo at Night
From Roppongi, Tokyo looks like an endless sprawl disappearing into the horizon.
Tokyo at Night
A view of Tokyo Tower, left, and surrounding buildings.

Six Trees

 

I’m here! Not much to show yet, as I didn’t quite nail the settings for properly shooting such a light-ambient city on my first night walk around Tokyo.

The immediate neighborhood is midway between Roppongi and Akasaka, not far from Tokyo Midtown. The word Roppongi means “six trees,” and the name dates back almost four centuries when the area was marked by half a dozen distinctive zelkova, also known as Japanese elm.

Here’s an aerial photo of the district:

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As you can see, there’s a nice balance between green areas and urban density. Whereas New York has a very straightforward grid layout and you can get a feel for the dimensions of the city by looking down certain avenues running the length or width of the island, it’s easy to see why some people say Tokyo feels never-ending, one big sprawl of twisting streets, hills and alleys.

There’s also a verticality that gives it a different feel from American cities. Manhattan is famous for its urban “canyons,” but oftentimes there’s a clear demarcation between residential and commercial, both horizontally and vertically. Stores and restaurants are almost always on street level, while upper levels are either apartments or offices.

In this part of Tokyo the restaurants, shops, karaoke bars and movie theaters are just as likely to be on the 10th floor as the first, and the signs are often inscrutable even when they’re in English: A sign for one place, called Seven, includes no information about what kind of establishment it is beyond a cryptic piece of text that reads “I like when fight pure.”

Maybe it’s a boxing gym where they’re really sensitive about the rules. Or maybe it’s a bar where Japanese women mud-wrestle. Either one seems just as likely.

Below are some day shots, including a koi pond in the courtyard of my brother’s building. I’m not sure if Buddy would lick his lips or run in terror from these koi. They’re pretty big. And orange. And they jump! Any one of those things are enough to strike fear in the heart of the scaredy cat. Strange to think they can live as long as 35 years.

 

Meanwhile back in New York…

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Looking at this photo, it almost seems like Buddy’s laying there dejected, thinking “Woe is me! Where has my Big Buddy gone? I am lost without him!”

Yet my mom reports Buddy waited for me and barely ate the first night, then by the second night he realized he’s still getting treated like a king, so he’s over it. The little jerk!