Saturday, October 14, 2006

Japan - Kyoto Tower

Japan is a nation of violent earthquakes, so architecturally there are not a lot of what we'd call "skyscrapers". Every major city, then, takes pride in having one centrally-located sightseeing tower that provides a panoramic view of the city for visitors - something you can't get in any other building.

On this trip, we visited both Kyoto Tower and Tokyo Tower, but I think each deserves its own post.

Kyoto Tower is an old structure that's kind of run down and sits atop a hotel. I've read that some Kyoto residents consider it kind of a joke - already much shorter than Tokyo Tower or some others around Japan, they think of it as kind of "cheating" that the tower portion is built on top of a multi-story building.

Still, as most of Kyoto's other buildings are five stories or less, you can get a great view of the entire city from the tower - as well as the surrounding mountains and temples. We took the opportunity to survey the landscape and plan our next three days of festivities.

You can see the clouds were already building - more on that later. Nothing like riding a high-speed train at 160mph through a typhoon!

Kyoto Tower, like Tokyo Tower, has its own mascot. It must be a law - everything in Japan has to be made cute. Kyoto Tower's mascot is named "Tawawa-chan". We looked everywhere for the Tawawa-chan merchandise pictured in the brochure, but the tower shop doesn't stock anything but cheap generic junk. The hotel "mall" downstairs has a bit more but mostly just keychains and cell phone straps. We ended up just buying a set of stickers.

This tower offers both a day and a night ticket - since we were a pair, the clerk gave us one of each even though we visited during the day. Here's the day ticket, with Tawawa-chan in full effect (jpg):

Night ticket (jpg):

Like a lot of tourist areas in Japan, Kyoto Tower also has brochures in both Japanese and English - and it's not just a difference in the language. Often the actual content and imagery is different too. Here's the Japanese brochure (multi-page PDF):

And here's the English version (multi-page PDF):

I had to convince my wife to visit both Kyoto and Tokyo towers but in both cases, we were glad we did. It's always nice to get a lay of the land before venturing out, and the view is of course amazing. Kyoto's also a pretty laid-back city (especially compared to Tokyo) and the employees at the tower were all pretty nice. So it's 500 yen well spent.

More from Kyoto tomorrow!

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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