My adventures in learning Japanese and my love affair with Japanese culture, history, pop culture...From the day I fell in love with Toshiro Mifune-san to the day I found myself singing children's songs in Japanese class with my fellow adult white non-native speakers...From struggling to learn the kanas and kanji to hearing myself speak Japanese in my dreams...I want to share stories, thoughts and goals on a journey that I expect will take the rest of my life....
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Tokyo Sky Tree
Sunday, I woke to new stories of Typhoon Jelawat heading towards the city. My plans had been to try to go to a Swing Dance class in another part of Tokyo (The Tokyo Swing Dance Society has classes in English on Sundays!) then get a boat to Odaiba, a section of Tokyo across the river and spend the rest of the day at the famous Oedo Onsen (bathhouse). When I asked the receptionist at the desk about the typhoon, she said (after checking with her manager and also a long research on the computer) that the typhoon was set to hit at about 2:00 so I better be back by 12:00. There went my plans.
I also needed to buy some essentials and she said I should go to the Sky Tree mall - I had no idea there was a mall there, so why not kill two birds, as they say?
The ride there was easy, just one subway stop away. Getting out of the station the tower is just above and is literally breathtaking.
Standing in line at the Sky Tree Tower, I kept asking
myself, is it worth it?I have been way
up in high buildings before.I’ve seen
city views in Florence, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York.But there was an energy that surrounded Tokyo
Sky Tree that was undeniable.The
crowds, almost entirely Japanese, were determined, excited and in great spirits.
The family behind me played an endless game of Ro-Sham-Bo (though it was called
something else) where the father yelled the last word explosively and let out a
booming laugh at the end of each and every match.This delighted the kids, but after about 20
minutes, not me so much.
There was plenty of information to listen to, watch and read
as we wound our way through the halls.Brochures
in hand and videos showing the “making of” Sky Tree, one couldn’t miss learning
all about it.The building is 634 meters
high, currently the tallest in the world (though, wouldn’t you know it? Shangahi
is building something 636 meters right now).
The design is sleek and ends with
a five story pagoda.Even the two colors
they’ve chosen to dress it up at night are traditional Japanese colors that
come from the Japanese color pallete known as aijiro – these colors were used
hundreds of years ago in cloth dying which was established in 603 by Prince Shōtoku and based on the five Chinese elements. In this system, rank and social hierarchy were displayed and determined by certain colors.The blue is called
skldjfdsklfjds and represents not only the Sumida River (which winds through
Tokyo) but Iki, the manly sprit of urban Edo (Tokyo), its “full strength and
intrepid spirit.” When the tower shines blue, it is only the core of the structure that lights up.
Every other evening the tower is glamorously purple with
glints of golden light, describing for all to see the color Edo-murusaki (royal
purple), representing the traditional aesthetics of Japan called Miyabi. The miyabi lighting shows off the structure of the tower. And every night a light encircles the tower over and over again showing the passing of time as the light form the tower beams up to the sky to express the hopes and dreams of the people of Japan.
I had been admiring the tower from my hotel room every night and it was fun to learn the specifics and the importance of every detail.
Iki, the Essence of Kokoroiki - Heart and Straightforwardness
Miyabi, the Essence of Aesthetics
Before we get lost in the elegance of the tower though, this is contemporary Japan after all, so along with the traditional anjiro and delicate balance of male and female representation, we also need to know that a special and official Character has been created for the Sky Tree as well: Sorakara-chan!
Sorakara-chan is a young girl with a star shaped head who descended from the skies to Tokyo Sky tree. She sticks around Skytree to tell visitors about the delights of the tower.
Birthplace: The Star Tongari
Favorite phrase: Sora kara, kore kara, ittemiru kara!(Let’s go explore!)
Prized possession:Her handy telescope, an heirloom from her grandfather.
There are also other characters, friends of Sorakara-chan:
Sukoburuburu: An old dog bred in shitamachi, the Tokyo
traditional town area
Teppenpen: A penguin girl who has a weakness for new fads
Once up there,(riding an elevator with beautifully designed mirrors reflecting cherry
blossoms and traveling at 600 meters per minute) it was fun to see how far
Tokyo stretches, but without a great knowledge of neighborhoods (I saw the
temple in Akasuka right away, however) it looked like infinite buildings reaching
as far as the eye can see. Everyone else was getting a kick out of picking out different areas. I got a coffee, strolled a little then left after about 30minutes.
The View from a little under 634 meters...
Was it worth it? In a way. It’s truly something to say you’ve been to the top of the tallest building in the world. But to me, the great reward is looking upon it from afar. In the daytime, seeing its presence towering over new Tokyo and old. And in the evening, admiring its manly blue, its dazzling purple as it extends straight up to the night sky. That’s when the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower delights.