I love educational cards, ones where you can compare, learn or otherwise extend your Trivial Pursuit playing skills! My friend Evita sent me this wonderful card that got me thinking about city skylines. NYC, with or without the Twin Towers, is instantaneously recognizable. How many famous buildings can you name there? Without trying, I can name three–the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Flatiron Building (my personal favorite). When I see Paris, not skyscrapers but architectural landmarks come to mind–the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumphe, Sacré Coeur and…the world’s biggest eyesore…the Tour Montparnasse (okay so one skyscraper made the cut). London has its Gherkin (Swiss Re Tower) and its “Eye,”in addition to such classics as the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. Cities and countries all have their symbols, their landmarks.
When I think of Tokyo, though, the first image that comes to my head isn’t even on this card. Tokyo and Mount Fuji are linked for me. Evita’s skyscraper card brought a new dimension to the Japanese skyline for me. I have slightly over 200 Japanese postcards right now. It is only a slight exaggeration to that I can count on one hand the number that show modern urban Japan. The Tokyo Tower is a feature of all of them.
The tower, which I can’t help but see as the “Japan-isation” of the Eiffel Tower, is the world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower. It is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower (333m vs 320m) thanks to its lightning rod. It is also the tallest structure on my skyscrapers postcard above. There are two observation decks and I want to see the view from at least one of them. There is a “lookdown” window from the first observation deck 145m up–a glass window that lets you look straight down at Tokyo below. I’m not sure if I have the nerves to go stand on it. I’m not overly scared of heights but still…you’re talking to someone who doesn’t even like to stand on subway grates. Getting back to France, can you believe that I have never been up the Eiffel Tower? Neither has Anthony for that matter…I know what we’ll be doing on our next trip to the capital 🙂 For any postcard enthusiasts out there, there is a mailbox at the Eiffel Tower offering a special cancellation for your mail.
Tokyo City Hall is the capital’s tallest building at 243m high. You can see it above as well to the right of the Tokyo Tower. With its two towers, it reminds me a bit of a modern idea of a reworked cathedral despite its more worldly/political orientation. That said, I can see where others might consider it more along the lines of an architectural “Big Brother.” City hall offers tourists two observation decks, one in each tower, for taking in downtown Tokyo. I don’t have any postcards of City Hall but I wonder if any of my Tokyo postcards were taken from its decks. According to Wikipedia, “of the 25 tallest buildings and structures in Japan, 17 are in Tokyo.” Evita’s card covers buildings and structures all over Japan. I’ll be referring to it in the future as we continue to explore the country of the Rising Sun. For now, I’ll leave you to contemplate it by yourself. What are your urban landmarks?