The past week+ had been fantastic, but it was time to bring it all back home to Tokyo for the final leg of the trip.
On the bullet train from Nagoya, I caught another glimpse of Mt. Fuji peaking up above the clouds. When the man next to me saw me trying to get a better look, he just smiled and showed me a photo he'd taken of Fuji unobscured by pesky clouds. It was neat how, even without exchanging any words, we could share that appreciation of such an awesome volcano!
But today wasn't just for traveling; there was still a lot of stuff we wanted to do in Tokyo. For most of us, the number one thing on that list was…
Tokyo Dome City
Did you really think we were gonna miss out on this??
The dome itself is cool and all…
…but we had other priorities!
Thunder Dolphin has to have one of the best settings of any coaster in the world! We had actually planned on doing this day 1, but it was down that week. Thankfully, it was up and running again today!
As others have said, it's not the most exciting ride in the world, but its surroundings more than make up for that.
Wow! Japan is so futuristic!
Honestly, it's hard to fault the ride for being so middle-of-the-road when it's in such a restrictive location. Still, I feel this is a ride you've got to ride at night to get the best experience.
Anyway, after getting our ride in (and stopping at Taco Bell!), a bunch of us decided to move on. (There's actually another coaster there that I wasn't aware of. Hey, there's always next time!) Our next stop was the…
In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of escalators in Japan….
"Yes, we'd like a garden, but we really like Picasso…."
And here's the main attraction! It really doesn't look like it in this measly gif, but this thing's over 2000 feet tall! That makes it shorter than only the Burj Khalifa!
The Skytree is pricier than Tokyo Tower, especially if you want to go to the upper levels.
The lower "node" of the Skytree is about halfway up. The elevator up is crazy fast, and you can feel your ears popping! The views here are pretty crazy, but the the air was a little hazier than one might hope.
Hey, that's where we just were!
Of course, they've got one of these things. Actually, they've got two: a free one and one where you can pay to get your picture taken without jockeying for room. It's not obvious in this photo, but there's another layer of glass some 6 ft. below the one I'm standing on, so it's a little less nerve-racking than the ones at Tokyo Tower.
This was the best thing in the whole tower
After about 45 minutes, we felt that we'd gotten our fill of the Skytree. None of us were too keen on forking over the extra cash to go to the upper levels, so we decided to leave. One thing I haven't yet mentioned is how utterly packed it was in there! So I was certainly ready to move on; even though the Skytree's very cool, I don't feel it had quite the charm that Tokyo Tower did.
Anyway, after the Skytree, I split off from the rest of group to go to…
The Imperial Palace
In my time scouting out our itinerary on Google Earth, I couldn't help but notice the huge mass of green right in the heart of Tokyo. I was down for some greenery in the middle of this metropolis, so I moseyed my way on over to the Palace.
The complex is nearly 300 acres in total and contains many important buildings, including the one in which the Emperor himself lives.
It feels like there should be guards watching over this gate
The Palace is now under the watchful eye of The Skink
There's a lot of old-looking buildings here
I don't know what their functions are exactly, but they look cool!
Up a little hill is this big field
Oh yeah, there were a LOT of crows here….
This looks like the entrance to some Mayan tomb
I was eager to explore more of this place, but unfortunately, the Palace closes early, so I had to go on my way to my next spot,
On the way, I made a transfer at the famous Tokyo Station!
This place is huge, so if you're gonna get even slightly lost at any train station in Japan, it's gonna be this one!
A short jaunt over the Rainbow Bridge, and I was on Odaiba!
Odaiba's a man-made island with a ton of cool stuff on it! One of the main attractions here is DECKS, which is a shopping mall and much, much more!
I've heard this described as the best place in Tokyo to view a sunset, and I might have to agree with that!
This may look like a tribute to the U.S., but it's actually a symbol of friendship between Japan and France.
This completely normal building is the HQ of Fuji TV
Odaiba seriously has some of the coolest architecture in a country already filled with cool architecture!
Another shot of the wholly unremarkable Fuji TV Building
The most famous sight on Odaiba is almost surely its life-sized Gundam statue! (The man in front had a heart attack after seeing such amazingness. RIP.)
o boi he THICC
Here it is: the Great Golden Toothpick of Edo.
The Fuji TV Building is utterly average in every conceivable manner. There is nothing unique or otherwise noteworthy about it whatsoever.
The real reason I was here, however, was to head to Tokyo Joypolis. The Joypolis franchise is, at its core, an arcade chain. But it's got quite a few tricks up its sleeve….
Take their spinning coaster for example—the first to ever invert! Now, being that this is an arcade, even the coaster has a game mechanic to it. The ride starts of with a "dark ride" section, in which screens are placed in front of you. The projections are of a rhythm game that you control by pressing buttons on your restraint. The game itself is themed to Sonic and Joypolis's own mascot. After that, you launch out into the section you see in the video, and then you head into a psycho rave before finally finishing. This entire place is a fever dream, but this ride is doubly so.
They also have this messed-up half-pipe… thing. You're supposed to stomp down at the bottom, and that makes your "board" spin.
Joypolis also has plenty of other cool things, including an attraction themed to Initial D, but I decided to head out at this point.
Oh yeah, there was this too….
Honestly, one of the best views in all of Tokyo.
Wait, is it actually Christmas??
Getting back took me to the other side of the bay. When I got there, I was greeted with the most exciting sight…
That's right: a monorail!!!
Next up: Fuji-Q Highland! Maybe it won't take me four months this time…
—Nick Z. Like a nun with a gun, I'm wonderful fun.
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