The red and orange Tokyo Tower stands like a beacon in the city skyline. In a cityscape of very tall skyscrapers, the colours and shape make it instantly recognisable. Similar to its French counterpart, the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower is a beloved symbol of the city.
10 Facts About Tokyo Tower
Here are ten cool facts about Tokyo Tower.
Tokyo Tower is the second tallest building in Japan (after the Tokyo Skytree).
It’s painted white and orange to comply with international air safety regulations.
It’s a major tourist attraction with approximately 3 million visitors annually.
More than 150 million visitors have visited Tokyo Tower since it opened in 1958.
Tokyo Tower gets repainted every 5 years with about 7500 gallons of paint.
The two main purposes of the tower is broadcasting and tourism.
Tokyo Tower changes colours for special events like Christmas.
On a clear day, you can see as far as Mt. Fuji in the distance.
Tokyo Tower is actually the 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower.
Although Tokyo Tower is taller than the Eiffel Tower, the advances in steel technology make it almost 1/2 its weight.
The Tokyo Tower is super-popular with Japanese couples for date night. It’s deliberately taller than the Eiffel Tower it was modelled on (after all what would be the point otherwise?).
Tokyo Tower is also exciting for children to visit. There is a glass floor that you can lie on top of (or peer down from). I found it dizzying but the kids liked it. When we went at Halloween, there was a whole dress-up area and scenes they could pose in front of.
A Photo Gallery of Tokyo Tower
The view form the observatory as dusk falls over Tokyo.
The view over Tokyo Harbor with Rainbow Bridge in the distance. I’m not sure why it’s called Rainbow Bridge since it’s not very multi-coloured.
The busy streets of Tokyo as seen from above.
Bright Lights Big City
Tokyo Tower lit up at night.
The children waving up at visitors looking down from the observatory deck.
The view from the top at night.
Visiting Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower has two different observation decks (one at 150 meters and another at 250 meters). You can even climb the 600 stairs to the first observatory if you feel the elevator is for wimps! No, that wasn’t us – in case from your wondering.
The views from the top are astounding because you can see how far Tokyo stretches and its building density. You also appreciate the little pockets of green as well as the traditional architecture tucked in between the modern buildings.
For example, from one side of Tokyo Tower if you look straight down you will see the centuries old temple, Zoji-ji, the most important building of the Japanese Pure Land Buddhist sect. In fact, the main building of Zoji-ji is the oldest wooden building in Tokyo from 1622. I love this aspect of Tokyo – a replica Eiffel Tower from 1958 cheek by jowl with a historic temple.
Obviously, this Japanese tourist attraction has a ginormous shop and lots of Tokyo Tower branded goods. It’s a Japanese tradition to bring back omiyage (souvenirs for friends and family) when you visit somewhere.
It may be a tourist trap but Tokyo Tower is definitely worth visiting. It’s open year-round from 9 AM to 11 PM. There are reduced rates for students and children under the age of 4 are free.
It’s impossible not to notice the Tokyo Tower, that stands like a beacon in the city skyline all red and orange. The Tokyo Tower is one of the symbols of the city, and did you know that it’s actually 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower? I bet you didn’t! Discover this and other cool facts about the Tokyo Tower in this informative post.
Tokyo can be overwhelming for anyone. The crowds, the signs, the neon lights, the traffic etc. all add up to a lot of sensory overload. So what do you do when you need to unwind? Heading back to your hotel room is an option (but boring). How about unwinding like many Japanese do? Head to an animal cafe and spend some time playing with a borrowed pet. After an extensive search, I found a wonderful cat cafe where my kids and I spent a couple of hours hanging out with some adorable cats.
Visiting A Cat Cafe with Kids
It’s not easy to fin a cat cafe with kids in tow. Many places have a restriction saying you need to be 12+ to be allowed inside the cat cafe. These places are worried about overly rambunctious children terrorising their beloved kitties.
We chose Cat Cafe Nekorobi which is a small cat cafe with about 14 cats on their roster. We went early afternoon (post lunch-time and before the after-work crowd). We were there with only a few other Japanese people. Contrary to what I expected, it wasn’t all young unmarried women but some couples and some single men.
OMG so cute!
Some of the cats were sleeping and others did not want to be bothered. There were enough cats though that wanted to play to make the experience completely entertaining. They all had different personalities and we each quickly found our favourites. My daughter and I loved the one that we called Grumpy Cat because his face made him look like the famous Grumpy Cat of internet fame. My son liked the dumb kitten who would chase his own tail and always wanted to play.
The Nekorobi version of Grumpy Cat
You are asked to put away your belongings in a locker. Then your hands are disinfected before you are allowed to play with the cats. The cafe has lots of cat toys at your disposal. There are two small sofas as well as a table and chairs if you just want to sit. Wifi is free and excellent as is the vending machine providing drinks. Although you are only a couple of floors above street level on a busy Tokyo street, the atmosphere is quiet and chilled.
Hanging out in his hammock
Animal Cafes in Tokyo
So, why cat cafes? We learned that many people in Tokyo live in apartment blocks that have pet restrictions. If you are an animal lover then the only way to get some pet cuddling time is to go to one of these cafes. Hence, why they are very popular. I’m pretty sure my brother (owner of 3 cats) and my husband (known as the Cat Whisperer in my family because he can charm any cat) would both be regular attendees at these cat cafes if they lived in Tokyo.
There are about 30 cat cafes in Tokyo which are probably the most popular type of animal cafe. There are also other types of animal cafes for rabbits, birds, owls, snakes, reptiles, dogs and even penguins. Basically most types of pets are covered by some sort of cafe. Where in Tokyo and The Japan Times have a handy list of animal cafes – you will need to check individually though to see if they allow children to visit. We wanted to go to the Dog Cafe (Dog Heart) but ran out of time.
Animal cafes need to be booked ahead of time if you want to go at peak times like the weekend or in the evenings. We went to a rabbit cafe, R.a.a.g.f in Harajuku which had the most adorable (really fat) rabbits. Unfortunately, we went after the Halloween Parade on a weekend. The only time slot R.a.a.gf. could give us was inconvenient with dinner plans we had made with friends. They were incredibly kind though and saw the disappointment on my children’s faces. They let my children coo over the rabbits for a few minutes even though there was a line of people waiting to get in for the next round of rabbit cuddling.
I had to insist on my kids leaving the Nekorobi Cat Cafe after a couple of hours. After all, we didn’t come to Tokyo to spend hours on end hanging out in a cat cafe. My children thought it was one of the best experiences they had in Tokyo. We tried to attend some other animal cafes but ran out of time. I have promised my children that we can schedule more animal cafes when we do a return visit to Tokyo at some point in the future. Yes, we will be returning! My children loved Tokyo.
Useful Details for the Nekorobi Cat Cafe
The Nekorobi Cat Cafe is located on Higashi-Ikebukuro which is a main street in the Ikebukuro neighbourhood of Tokyo. There is a Higashi-Ikebukuro stop on the subway which I suggest you take. Then follow the handy map on their website for a few blocks and the Nekorobi Cat Cafe is on a corner building. The building is called T.O. Building and is right on that main road. Go in through the side entrance and go up a couple of floors.
We got really lost trying to find the cat cafe but had some lovely Japanese people who helped us. We made the mistake of using the Ikebukuro subway stop which made it unnecessarily hard to find Higashi Ikebukuro.
Nekorobi Cat Cafe is open 11:00 AM to 10:00 pm 7 days a week. As I said, previously, however, evenings and weekends tend to get booked quickly by the regulars who come after work.
Halloween in Japan is becoming a really big deal. I have a feeling they will soon be as obsessed with the American holiday of Halloween as they are with the American sport of baseball. It’s another American import that the Japanese have really taken to heart.
As one of my favourite Japanese blogs, Rocket 24, points out Halloween is the culmination of three things that the Japanese love – sweets, seasonal events and dressing up. I have to agree with this assessment. Anything cute was bound to go down well in Japan and Halloween definitely brings out the cute in kids.
We were lucky enough to be in Tokyo this Sunday for the Hello Halloween Parade in Tokyo. Held in the posh Harajuku Omotesando neighbourhood, this parade is in its 30th year. It was a real family event with lots of people attending both as spectators and participators. More than a thousand children and their parents dress up and parade down a portion of Ometesando (a street people in Tokyo refer to as their Champs-Elysees).
Check out the costumes on display at the Halloween Parade.
The band lead the parade.
An enthusiastic promoter
Not to miss out, lots of pets were out with their owners strutting their stuff. My dog hates wearing his Halloween outfit and sulks. I’m really impressed that these dogs are perfectly fine being dressed up.
Twin princesses. I think that face says ‘help me!”
Too cool for this parade.
Many of the local stores in the area join the festivities and give out candy and gifts. We were given a map but my inability to read Japanese limited our partaking in the bounty. The kids were pretty happy though when they picked up some free Sylvanian animal toys and some crackers.
I love the name of this store – Awesome Store!! Indeed the stuff inside was awesome and we did a bit of shopping of cool Japanese design.
The Awesome Store is awesome!
We also won a raffle to a local children’s party. It was a surreal experience being the only foreigners surrounded by 50+ Japanese children and their parents. There was Hotel Transylvania dubbed in Japanese playing in the background and lots of over-excited Japanese kids in the room. My daughter refused to leave though until she’d eaten her fill from the chocolate fountain. My kids are suckers for chocolate fountains.
This mother thought being a slutty cop was appropriate for her kid’s halloween party.
Fathers being turned into mummies. A game that never gets old.
So some more photos from the Halloween Parade in Tokyo:
Mommy and Son Spiderman. Is that Axl Rose in the background?
Too tired to walk.
Her faces shows absolute tween despair. I love it.
What are your plans for Halloween? I didn’t think I’d find anywhere as crazy as the American suburbs for Halloween but clearly I was wrong. Japan is definitely on its way to full-fledged Halloween mania.