Our reporter Seiji finally ascends one of Tokyo’s most beloved tourist attractions — and for a discount!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the closer you live to a tourist attraction, the less likely you are to ever actually visit said attraction. No one knows this better than our in-house reporter Seiji Nakazawa, who grew up on the mean streets of Osaka but never went to the top of Osaka’s infamous Tsutenkaku tower in all the time he lived there.

Now he’s lived and worked in Tokyo for almost 15 years, and his home is well within biking distance of another celebrated landmark: Tokyo Sky Tree. Famed for its stunning sky deck and views of the surrounding city, the towering Skytree itself is surrounded by shops and restaurants that draw in tourists from all over Japan.

Seiji had just kind of assumed that one day he would roll on up to Tokyo Skytree and take in the sights and scenery, but since he hadn’t managed it in a decade and a half, he decided it was time to seize the moment. Who knew how much longer he’d be living in Sumida Ward in Tokyo?

He hopped on his bike and dashed off to the Solamachi Complex, the aforementioned collection of stores and eateries that surrounds the Skytree proper. It’s perennially packed with people and produce, and not at all dissimilar to the organized chaos of a department store. Seiji had to go to the fourth floor of Solamachi to enter the Skytree building, and he already noticed a serious uptick in families and tourists hanging around beneath its mighty, towering form.

Entering the building Seiji caught sight of two things. First, the queue to enter was split between those who had already reserved tickets and those who were purchasing a ticket upon arrival. Second, a large sign. Apparently, the price of admission to the Skytree was halved between September 18 and October 4, in honor of the attraction’s eighth anniversary. Fantastic! What wonderful luck!

Now, Seiji only needed to get his ticket.

Unfortunately, it seemed like that might be a greater undertaking than he’d initially assumed.

You see, since the price was so heavily discounted, a lot of other people had decided to grab their chance to witness the glory of Tokyo Skytree for themselves.

The line was long enough that you might assume a Disneyland attraction lay at the end of it, rather than a very pretty view of the skyline. The longer Seiji looked at that intimidating queue of people, the stronger his urge to take a rain check and come back on another, less-discounted occasion.

No, he chided himself. Such logic had kept him from visiting tourist attractions all this time! If he rescheduled now, he may never return. Seiji bravely strolled up to the back of the line, determined to get himself a ticket.

And he did! It only took around ten minutes, likely due to the huge number of service stations. There were also plenty of areas where security could check visitors’ temperatures and people could quickly sanitize their hands, which helped to alleviate some of Seiji’s other worries.

When given the chance to buy his ticket to the observation deck, Seiji noticed that he could also visit the Tembo Galleria, located roughly 450 meters (1476 feet) up the Skytree. Access to this area usually costs an additional 1,000 yen (US$9.46), but thanks to the discount it would only cost 500 yen today. Seiji’s ticket cost 1,700 yen (US$16.09) in total — a steal!

He hastened to the elevator so that at last he could experience the elevated heights of the Tembo deck. With the dark decor and minimalist red lighting guiding the way to the elevator, he felt even more like a kid about to ride a rollercoaster at a theme park.

Since the elevator is fully contained inside the building, there’s no indication for how high up you are other than the steadily increasing number on the floor display. Surrounded by darkness, Seiji waited for it to slow to a stop…

And then he took a step out into the light.

▼ Wow!

Nothing could have prepared him for that phenomenal view. The city itself spread open before him like an animated map.

Landmarks from Shinjuku sprung up from the floor, no larger than decorations in a sculpted diorama, while pure, bright sunlight spilled down from the clouds above. The celestial beauty of the sky, contrasted with the man-made metropolis below it… Seiji could barely handle its beauty.

He had underestimated just how powerful a view Tokyo Skytree was offering. In fact, he would say that that first glimpse of the skyline you catch after emerging from the dark elevator is well worth the admission fee alone.

Seiji had to admit he had made a huge mistake in waiting so long to experience this sight for himself. How foolish he’d been to assume that just because he lived in Tokyo, he’d seen all there was to see of it!

That said, it was pretty crowded on this floor. A lot of other people were clamoring to get at the windows to see that phenomenal view for themselves.

Maybe it would be less crowded in the Galleria?

Ah. Perhaps due to the discount campaign, it was very busy here too, with almost every window occupied. Seiji couldn’t really blame them for being there. He’d had exactly the same idea, after all.

With all these people vying for window space, the Galleria didn’t feel very much different from the observation deck. Seiji actually found his favorite spot on the lower floor of the Tembo Deck — while the Tembo Deck consists of two floors, everyone tends to gravitate towards the higher floor so they can get the best view. The lower floor had far fewer people, meaning Seiji could find a spot near the window with ease.

Plus, this floor had comfy armrest cushions!

If there’s a tourist attraction nearby that you’ve been assuming you’ll visit someday, Seiji implores you to get out and do it now. There’s no time like the present, and many of the best tourist pleasures are free!

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