Report by Tokyo lover Annamarie Sasagawa

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Report by Tokyo lover Annamarie Sasagawa

Tokyo Sky Tree and the Sky Tree Neighborhood

Rising high above Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, Tokyo Sky Tree is a symbol of both modern Japan and old-town Tokyo. This 634-meter telecommunications tower, built to facilitate Japan’s switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting and enhance disaster response efforts, was completed in 2012. It has two viewing decks, both promising stunning views of Tokyo metropolis and the Kanto plain.

At almost double the height of Tokyo Tower, Sky Tree is a remarkable sight. Although this blueish-white latticework tower is visible from almost anywhere in the city, some of the best views of Sky Tree can be found in Tokyo’s traditional ‘shitamachi’ neighborhoods located near the base of the tower. After you visit Sky Tree itself, take some time to explore its ‘hometown.’ There is nothing that captures the essence of Tokyo better than catching a glimpse of Sky Tree as you explore the low-rise old-town neighborhoods in Taito or Sumida wards.

  • Access
    The closest stations to Tokyo Sky Tree are Tokyo Sky Tree station on the Tobu Railways Isesaki line or Oshiage (Sky Tree-mae) station on the Tobu Railways Isesaki line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Keisei Railways Narita Sky Access line, Toei Asakusa subway line.
  • Entry
    Tokyo Sky Tree opens to visitors on May 22, 2012. You can buy tickets to Sky Tree through the Tobu Travel box office or book tours through various travel agencies llin Japan.

Mukojima

Mukojima district is a great place to start exploring. This peaceful traditional neighborhood in Tokyo’s Sumida ward is located just across the river from bustling Asakusa. Here, you’ll find narrow alleyways lined with old wooden houses, nostalgic shopping streets, and traditional restaurants where geisha continue to practice their art. If you want to understand the essence of Sky Tree’s ‘hometown,’ old-town Tokyo, take some time to wander the streets of this friendly neighborhood.

Mukojima Geisha

When you think of geisha in Japan, do images of Kyoto come to mind? Would you believe this Japanese tradition lives on even in the shadow of Tokyo Sky Tree? Like Kyoto’s Gion or Pontocho, Tokyo’s Mukojima is also a traditional geisha district. Kimono-clad geisha have been entertaining customers in ryotei restaurants here since the 19th century and there are still 18 ryotei and about 120 geisha in Mukojima today. Many of the neighborhood’s ryotei offer reasonable fixed-price dinner courses, so if you’ve ever wanted to dine with geisha without breaking the bank, head to Mukojima.

Shopping Arcades

Turning into one of Mukojima’s lively shopping streets is like going back in time. In these shopping streets you can find small family-run stores offering the necessities of Tokyo life. In addition to the tofu shops, butchers, florists, bookstores, doctor’s clinics and fish shops that line these streets, you can also find small art galleries and traditional wooden houses that have been converted into cafes. If it weren’t for the very modern sight of Tokyo Sky Tree in the distance, you could easily believe you’d traveled back about fifty years to Japan’s Showa era. Check out Mukojima’s Hatonomachi Street, Jizozaka Street and the Kirakira shopping arcade in nearby Kyojima district for a sense of old-town Tokyo life.

Hyakka-en Gardens

Although you can catch sight of Tokyo Sky Tree almost anywhere in Mukojima, a particularly beautiful place to view it is in Hyakka-en gardens. These city-run gardens tucked away in the eastern part of Mukojima are a peaceful place to take a rest, have a cup of sweet amazake rice drink and photograph Sky Tree, which you can see from various locations in the gardens. Watching Sky Tree rise above the seasonal flowers on display in these gardens is an essential Mukojima experience.

  • Location
    Sumida ward, Higashi Mukojima 3-18-3.
  • Cost
    150 yen for adults (junior highstudents and older); 70 yen for seniors over 65; free for children of elementary school age and youngerand junior high school students living in Tokyo
  • Hours
    9am-5pm (last entry 4pm); closed Dec 29-Jan 3
  • Access
    You can reach Mukojima by Tobu or Keisei Railways train. The closest stations are Hikifune Station or Higashi Mukojima station on the Tobu Sky Tree (Isesaki) line, or Keisei Hikifune station on the Keisei Oshiage line.

If the weather is good, a wonderful way to explore Mukojima and access Tokyo Sky Tree is by bicycle. You can rent bicycles from Taito Ward's rental cycle station in Sumida Koen Park. From there, it is about a ten minute bike ride to Mukojima.

Taito Ward Bicycle Rental

Location:Taito Ward, Hanakawado 1-1 / Hours: 6am-8pm

 

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