Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Harajuku, and Shibuya
It was great to have a clear day for once after all the rain from the previous day. A great day to get a view from one of the towers in Tokyo. There are several buildings/structures which can give you a great view of the city; however, there is only one that I found which gives you the view, minus the glass panels blocking your view. I headed to Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills.
Roppongi is another one of Tokyo’s popular spots especially for night life. However, it was early in the morning, and I came to Roppongi for the Mori Tower observation deck which is actually a helicopter landing pad on the roof; an unbeatable unobstructed 360 degree view of Tokyo.
Although you can always get a similar city view from Tokyo Tower (looks like Eiffel Tower) or the Tokyo Sky Tree, I personally preferred Mori Tower because you have a view of those structures as well. You can even see the artificial island of Odaiba. Unfortunately, Mt Fuji was under the clouds as usual, but you should be able to see it on a clear today. I didn’t mind though, since I’ll be on top of it soon enough. Speaking of Tokyo Tower, if you are a One Piece fan, they have a theme park dedicated to One Piece there, ugh, should’ve went, next time then.
It can get quite hot in Tokyo. June felt like a NYC summer day as it is hot and humid, the temps were in the upper 80s most of the time. But that doesn’t stop people from coming outside. Speaking of people, my next stop was Harajuku (原宿), a district within Shibuya and a short walk from the Meiji shrine. Harajuku is considered to be the center of youth culture and fashion. The main artery would definitely be Takeshita Dori where all the shops are and the occasional oddly dressed individuals. It’s quite crowded for a Tuesday afternoon, I can’t imagine the weekend.
Before heading down this street to check out the shops, there was something I had to do. In the above photo, to the right of the main street sign, you’ll see Laser Trap Room. Yep, had to check it out. $5 gives you 90 seconds to get through a laser trap room. The goal is to touch lit-up buttons on the walls in random spots to complete the challenge. There are 4 difficulty levels and it looks just like you would imagine (not me in the photos). I took a shot at Medium and did pretty good for my first time. My advice would be not to wear baggy shorts like I did.
Once you get through Takeshita Dori, you make a right and go straight for a few blocks until you end up on Omotesando Dori which has even more shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants. It kinda resembles Champs Elysees in Paris. I stood at the overpass to get a few photos.
You’ll notice that cars drive on the left lane, driving wheel is on the right of the car. The only reason I didn’t end up driving Mario Karts down the streets was because you needed an international driving license to drive them and it was too last-minute, meh (check it out on “http://maricar.com/”).
Once you reach Aoyama Dori, it’s a long 20 minute walk to the heart of Shibuya (渋谷区) and the infamous Shibuya intersection. You’ll know when you get there. I must’ve crossed this street 100 times. Check out some video on Youtube to see the dynamics; it’s quite impressive how people don’t collide. The best place to observe the crossing is the Starbucks on the second floor in the building right on the intersection.
Once I crossed the street 100 times, I walked through the surrounding areas and came across the coolest sushi restaurant ever. Genki Sushi, an automated sushi restaurant. You walk in and get a number, and then go to your assigned seat. You use a Tablet to order your sushi and then in a few minutes, your sushi arrives via a conveyor belt track. I ordered enough food to create a plate tower and it only cost me $20 to eat so much sushi! Jon recommends this place.
Shibuya is bigger than I thought, and would definitely use it as home base next time. I headed back to Shinjuku to take a quick break.
Recall that our home base was the Gracery hotel, where there is a giant Godzilla. After finding out that the eyes light up at night, it was time for a photo shoot:
From the hotel, we took a walk through Shinjuku via Meiji Dori toward the Square Enix building. Square has been making some of the best video games I’ve ever played especially when I was a teenager. It just made sense to stop by. There is a cafe called Artnia with a video game theme and gift shop. If anyone played Final Fantasy 7, check out that Materia ball drink.
So again, we dined like kings, and got some rest. The next 2 days were going to be quite different and I’ll need all the sleep I can get. Mt. Fuji awaits…