Towers and Emperors
Posted by Heliocentrism on March 20, 2015
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Let’s do whatever…
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is pretty much closed to the public during the first and last week of the year, with January 1st being the exception. On New Year’s day, it opens early enough that you can almost see the first sunrise of the year.
Before New Year’s eve we planned on getting up super early to be one of the first people to get into the towers. It’s free to get in so, we thought with all the long lines for the Skytree and Tokyo Tower, this too would have tons of people trying to get in.
But after getting to bed late the night before, we just weren’t in the mood to do anything “super early”. Instead, we woke up, when we woke up.
I wanted to skip the free tower all together to avoid the crowd. But we couldn’t think of anything else to do in Tokyo on New Year’s day that wasn’t closed or crowded. Mark made the decision to just go stand in line for the government building anyway.
We got to the towers around 10:00 in the morning. There wasn’t even a line. We just walked right through and got on the elevator. We walked around taking pictures and wondering where the crowd was. (Probably still in bed.)
We had an early lunch in the north tower. The prices weren’t too bad. The set lunch was less than 10USD per person. This is an even better deal when you remember that the tower is free to enter.
I’m really glad we didn’t waste any time or money going to Tokyo Tower or the Skytree. Both if which we could see from our view during our meal.
After lunch it was up to Mark to pick what we did next. We had eaten very slowly, so it was about 16:00 in the afternoon. Even though it was late, Mark thought there might be a chance to see the emperor.
We took the subway to the Imperial Palace. There we could see the area where the lines were, marked off by orange traffic cones and canvas tarps. We could tell that there were many, many people in line earlier in the day.
While we were sipping drinks and eating lunch these people were standing around, waiting, and freezing. The emperor and his family came out every hour on the hour to wave at the crowd. But now, they were all gone and the emperor was inside.
Mark was a little disappointed that we missed the waving emperor. But I think we spent our time more wisely having lunch in the tower rather than standing in line in the cold.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to askwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
Ace Inn Shinjuku
- Coordinates 35°41’32.2″N 139°43’22.3″E
- near AkebonobashistationontheToeiShinjuku line
- Exit #3
- ￥3,300 ~ 4,500 per person per night
- Check in 16:00
- Check out 11:00
- There is a receptionist available 24 hours a day.
- The wi-fi is pretty decent throughout the whole hostel.
- There is one parking space. (You can see our white k-car in the photo above.)
- ￥1,000/ night
- My Hostelworld review:
“Tokyo is expensive, so I can’t expect too much from a budget hostel. The place was clean enough for the most part. My bed, sheets, and towels looked pretty clean, but I did get run over by a huge roach in the common area. The kitchen is quite small, and dirty looking. Because the place looks a bit run down in the lobby, some travelers don’t make as much of an effort to pick up after themselves as they should. But, if you just want to stay for a night or two this place might be okay.”
(Tōkyō no chikatetsu)
- 0120-104106 Customer Service (Japanese Only)
- 03-3834-5577 Lost and Found
- Lost property is kept at in Ueno Station’s (Hibiya Line) Lost & Found Center (across from the pass office) or 3-4 days.
- Regular Tickets
- Discount Tickets
- 500 JYN 1 day pass for Toei Lines Only
- 700 JYN 1 day pass for Tokyo Metro lines
- 1,000 JYN 1 day pass for Toei and Tokyo Metro lines
- 1,500 JYN 3 day pass for Toei and Tokyo Metro lines
- PASMO (prepaid transportation card)
- 5:00 – 0:00 (actual time varies from station to station)
- The trains run later on some holidays.
- Rush hour:
- Getting to the Airport
- Special Cars and Rules
- Some cars are only for women (and children under 12) during the rush hours.
- No eating or drinking.
- Don’t put luggage on the seat beside you.
- Do not talk loudly or make too much noise.
- If you’re having trouble remembering what line you need, just remember the first letter of the line’s name. For most of the lines a tourist will use, the line’s symbol will be the same as the first letter of the line’s name.
- This is not true for all the lines of the Tokyo subway system, just the ones mostly used by tourists.
- There is a steep learning curve. At first the Tokyo Subways system will confuse you, especially when you compare it to more logically planned subway systems like that of Seoul or London. But you will get a hang of it.
- The Suica card can only be used to ride the JR Railway.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Coordinates 35°41’22.6″N 139°41’31.5″E
2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-0023, Japan
- +81 3-5321-1111
- North Observatory: 9:30 to 23:00
- South Observatory: 9:30 to 17:30
- Closed :
- The North Tower has a restaurant with the better view and a bigger souvenir shop. But because of the restaurant and the bigger souvenir shop there is less space for tourists to move around when looking out at Tokyo.
- The South Tower has better views of Tokyo. Its souvenir shop is very small and its cafe is in the middle of the deck leaving lots of space for tourists to enjoy the view of Tokyo.
- I recommend going to the South Tower if you just want to look at Tokyo, but going to the North Tower for lunch or dinner.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace East Gardens
(Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen)
- Coordinates 35°41’06.6″N 139°45’10.0″E (Tokyo Imperial Palace)
- Coordinates 35°41’10.5″N 139°45’33.8″E (The Imperial Palace East Gardens)
1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda, Tokyo Prefecture 100-0001, Japan
- +81 3-3213-1111
The Imperial Palace East Gardens:
- 9:00 – 16:00
- Mondays, Fridays, New Year (Dec 28 to Jan 3)