Day 3 was our “typical tourist day.” We started with a trip to the Tokyo SkyTree, an absolutely jaw-dropping feat of engineering. The tower is the 2nd tallest building in the whole world. It serves as the main broadcasting tower for the area, but also features a restaurant and observation deck.
After traveling nearly 1500' feet up the tower in a rapid elevator, we were treated to sweeping panoramic views of Tokyo. The experience was mind blowing: skyscrapers and dense urban sprawl literally as far as you could see, and it was a relatively clear day. If you look closely, you can see Mount Fuji in the background.
It’s difficult to describe just how challenging it was for our minds to comprehend the sheer vastness, complexity, and density of seeing Tokyo like this in all directions.
One feature of the observation deck was to walk over a glass floor. Ali could not look down herself, so she took this video and then watched it once her feet were safely planted on the opaque floor.
The ride back down.
We decided to walk to our next destination, and along the way we found several trees that had immaculate blossoms. Many locals stopped and took photos.
A local park with some unusual architecture caught our eye, so we took a detour to explore.
Upon inspection, the slide was no ordinary slide, but a long series of rollers! We both had to take a trip down (after waiting our turn behind some children).
Next we made it to the Asakusa district, which is a major tourist destination featuring countless stalls, shops, and foods. Here is one of the quieter side streets that maintains the feel of old Tokyo.
We slowly plodded our way through the dense crowd of tourists down the Nakamise Shopping Street. In spite of the numerous shopping options, we didn’t find anything that we liked. Most of the souvenirs felt like made-in-China junk that one might find in any store with cheap Asian-themed goods. Still, the experience was worth it, and we did find a delicious lunch along one of the side alleys.
Next we walked to Jungle Cafe Owl no Mori. For a reasonable fee, we were permitted to enter a cramped room filled with faux foliage and many bright-eyed owls. Ali enjoyed the privilege of holding one of them, including the moment it pooped on her sleeve. All the owls are rescued from closed pet stores and owners who decided to give up their owls for one reason or another. The “cafe” part of the experience is in name only, as the drinks options were limited to whatever was in stock in a couple of vending machines in the back of the room.
As mid-afternoon approached we took the metro to the Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. As such, it has become a tourist destination, which exacerbates the congestion. Watching the crowds gather and disperse over and over again was hypnotizing.
Finally we walked from the crossing up to the Harajuku shopping area. Again, we didn’t find anything that we liked, but we did get to enjoy some of the downtown Tokyo vibes, including this brief moment on a pedestrian overpass.