Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tokyo by Night

Japan often hails as “the land of the rising sun” but the sunset in my view as the car I am riding pass down the road with numerous Japanese signage in between towards the city of Tokyo is telling me that exploring it in daytime is not enough to appreciate its urban culture and places of interest.  Basking under the amber rays of sunset, it was the start of my night journey in exploring the chic city of Tokyo. From my sight, I can already see the high-rising skyscrapers of the city mushrooms in every block of the city. And the fast-paced life of people moves in the city where everything is in action. Yet I contemplate that behind everything that is cosmopolitan about Tokyo, its old charm of diverse culture and life continuous to enchant its visitors. 
The glowing Tokyo Tower.
Sumptuous treat courtesy of Kuya Sam.
The sunset just finished. And the sky now glows from light to dark violet, when we arrived at a park where there is a spectacular view of the Rainbow Bridge. It is a suspension bridge crossing northern Tokyo Bay between the Shibaura Wharf and the Odaiba waterfront development in Minato, Tokyo. I am wondering how it came to be known by that name, maybe because the arch of the bridge resembles the arch of a rainbow. The bridge is then illuminated with light as the night approaches.  I can’t recall the name of the park where I stay but the panoramic view of Rainbow Bridge facing over the Tokyo Bay with the skyscrapers of the city in the background is a perfect picture of Tokyo by night. The steel designed of Rainbow Bridge harmonizes with the skyline of central Tokyo. And the glitter of lights from the bridge and from the buildings adds a dramatic effect to the night view of Rainbow Bridge.

Tokyo Sunset - where our journey begins...
The Rainbow Bridge leading to the chic city of Tokyo as our backdrop.
The Rainbow Bridge's glow of colors.
It is the Rainbow Bridge that leads us to the chic city of Tokyo.  We drove crossed the bridge that is erected over Tokyo Bay.  The waters of the Tokyo Bay flashes light illuminated from the city buildings surrounding it. I appreciated it best this night time. There are lamps placed on the wires supporting the bridge, which are illuminated into three different colors - red, white and green.  Hence, the interplaying color of lights adorning the columns of Rainbow Bridge makes it majestic and beautiful. From a distance, I can already see the famous Tokyo Tower. And as we reach the end of the bridge we immediately proceed to Shibuya.

I believe it is around seven in the evening when we arrived.  It is still rush hour.  It is the time where the sea of people in Shibuya is overwhelming. It was overwhelming that I didn't dare to cross the famous intersection. The massive crowd of people of all walks of life - students, employees, young, old, expats, businessmen seems not to care as long as they cross Shibuya crossing to continue living in their urban life in Tokyo. I just stayed around the vicinity with my travelmates just to take in all this vibe of Shibuya's high city life - the air, the sea of people, the tall skyscrapers. It's a place where stop is not an option. All the while, the surrounding skyscrapers continue to flash various advertisements from three large TV screens of different products necessary to an urban life.  Brisk advertising in the exciting megacity of Tokyo is telling of its intense commerce.  Even the shopping malls seem to stimulate a brighter mood to take a second look at it.

Shibuya at night's scramble crossing.
Beware of getting lost, Shibuya is famous for its scramble crossing. In front of the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit, all vehicles stop in all directions to allow pedestrians to inundate the entire intersection.  Everything is moving and there is no slowing down of life in Shibuya. People are always seen in action here, whether walking fast, slowing down, talking to a phone, traveling with a dog or helping a foreigner for directions. Life seems unstoppable in Shibuya. They don’t seem to care if it's night time already as long as they move. 

Shibuya is Japan's version of New York Times Square. It is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo and known as one of the fashion centers of Japan, particularly for young people, and as a major nightlife area too. It is skyscraper traffic out there too with its numerous buildings - from Shibuya's tallest Cerulean Tower to the trendy shopping place of Shibuya 109 up to NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, the third-tallest building in Tokyo and patterned after the Empire State Building. Hence, I can conclude here that Tokyo is livelier in night time as more action is happening around the city.  I find it a unique experience to witness the fast and moving cosmopolitan life in Tokyo.

Roppongi Hills at Night.
The night seems to be young for us at Tokyo as we explore Roponggi, next.  Roponggi is another district in Minato, Tokyo.  True to what I heard it is famous for, it is home of active night club scene.  I saw bars and night clubs sprouting in every corner of Roppongi. The glittering lights and flashes of banners with Japanese characters from lined night clubs of Roppongi only add a colorful character in this district.   As I roam to its other side I saw that it is also home of many foreign embassies including ours. Sample the best coffee in one of the many quaint coffee shops while people watching is the simplest way to savor this district of Tokyo. Roppongi is a large district that I didn’t notice passing the famous Roppongi Hills - a massive shopping, housing, and dining complex as well as office spaces and Azabu area which are quieter commercial area of Roppongi Hills but also absorbed some of its vibrant commercial activity and nightlife. One could dream having a luxurious condo unit in Ropponggi Hills and throw private parties but simple flats is reported way too much pricey!

The Tokyo Tower in the city skylines.
My night roaming in Tokyo continues to a visit to Tokyo Tower. The tower is often identified to the city of Tokyo just like Eiffel Tower to Paris. But it is actually a communications and observation tower located in Shiba Park of Minato. Tokyo Tower looks burning at night as it glows in bright orange color lighting. Actually, it was my mom who burst in awe that it looks burning from the ground.  Its bright orange color simply standout in the night sky. There's an observation deck where you can have a 360 degree view of Tokyo which is best viewed by night.  I appreciate the night view of the city coupled by the glittering lights of the skyline. It somewhat set a romantic mood for me while viewing the city.  From the observation decks, there are corners where guide boards are located that will inform you about the view of the tower and retrieval of information regarding the city and the location you are viewing.  Tokyo Tower also houses coffee shops, souvenir boutiques, restos, museum and art gallery that makes it attractive for tourists to visit.

At the grounds of Tokyo Tower.
The steel structure of Tokyo Tower.
Tokyo Tower is famous in popular media culture as it is mostly used to locate a scene in Tokyo. In most Japanese animé (cartoons) or TV series that I have watched it is mostly used as a setting of the scene. So visiting the Tokyo Tower made me get some flashbacks of animé scenes that I have watched. I somehow feel that I have entered a scene in a Japanese animé or TV series. And it made me feel that I have stepped into a real life Japanese animé or TV series scene. Because of these strong recalls, it made me feel easily connected to the place.  Yet, I will never forget the bright orange glow of the tower amidst the dark sky. The sight of the tower is beholding that it stays in my memory vividly forever.

Tokyo by night was a great way to experience this chic city of Japan. I love the sight of Tokyo lit by numerous bright lights and flashes of neon colors. It elicits a moving mood. It makes me feel on the go. This is my firsthand experience of fast-pace urban living in Japan and I find this enigmatic and charming. Yet visiting this beguiling city is a discovery of its lively, artistic downtown neighborhoods and fascinating urban life.

End the night in Toyko at a kaiten-zushi.
But of course, daytime trip to the city has wonders to expect too. Best daytrip sightseeing are visits to Mount Fuji, experiencing cherry blossoms and walking inside the grounds of Sensōji Temple in Asakusa. But for now, I am satisfied being in the oasis of sparkling lights and bustling cosmopolitan night life of Tokyo while munching my crab sushi from a kaiten-zushi.

Tokyo by Night is a recollection of my last trip to Tokyo, Japan in November 3-6, 2004 in which I experienced a memorable night tour of the city courtesy of Kuya Sam, a long-time Filipino Tokyo resident we met there. It was one of my last trips to Tokyo after 4 yearly concecutive visits since 2001 which made me missed Japan nowadays... longing for a future trip.

Some of the photos are credited to Thomas Driemeyer and Manisha Mahajan. 


  1. 2 of the countries that I plan to visit next year. not just the place, but knowing that the japanese are the nicest people leaves me no reason not to go there soon!

  2. i believed you surely had a memorable vacation Ian..
    nice post as usual!

    Travel Euroasia
    Europe Travel Pad
    Countryside Trip

  3. about your question??
    Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein.

    remember the movie Frankenstein?

  4. @Chyng: Hey Chyng what is other one you plan to visit? I agree, Japanese are some of the nicest and polite people I've met. As for my future visit, it will take a long time before the next visit because of financing... its quite expensive to do a Japan trip but it will always be in my list to see again as it is one of nice places I've been.

    @Ruby: Thanks for the info. I do not know much about Franfenstein. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. pasalubong naman ng tokyo starbucks mug! :P

  6. oooh Japan! i long to see the sakuras with the Japanese landscape in the background.. :)

  7. Wow nakapag Japan ka na pala, the land of endless supply of sushi :) sana isa ako sa manalo doon sa free round-tickets nila.

  8. Hi, congratulations on the new blog theme, it's a very nice template! Have been busy and haven't visited your blog for a long time. Keep up good work!

    Japan is the country that I would love to visit so much.. hope I'll have chance to set foot in its land one day.

  9. @Christian: How I wish to come back to Tokyo.

    @Happysole: That would be a momentous event you have to experience in Japan. I experience Cherry Bloosoms in Japan and it was phenomenal.

    @Claire: Yup and it was way back in 2004 - my last visit there. 'Wish to visit this beautiful country again in the future.

    @Shelyn: Thanks and I'm glad you like this new theme that is more suited for my type of blog. I wish you make it to visit Japan in the future.

  10. WOW! I envy you.. :p Nasa bucket list ko ang Japan.. Gusto ko ma-try kung ano ba ang lasa ng Yakisoba, Sushi at Maki na dun talaga ginawa... :)

  11. @Bino: I wish to visit this lovely city and country again. It was way back in 2004 since my last visit there. Yakisoba is very famous there ;)

  12. @Christian: yup, But there is an upcoming new post this week, feel free to come back again =)

  13. WOW! It's amazing experience in japan. I would love to visit this place in future.Thanks for sharing.



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