An easy and relatively quick ride on the Shinkansen back from Kyoto to Tokyo, we checked into our hotel and found ourselves presented with a pretty amazing view of the city, right from our room.

Uhhh, whoa
A very Instagram-able photo of the lobby of our hotel. I always seem to forget that I even have Instagram until well after the trip.

And it got me to thinking… this looks a lot like SimCity up here.

A random pic in a random direction. It was hard to capture all the expanse of Tokyo, but that didn’t keep me from trying.

I was actually hilariously bad at that game. My cities would go bankrupt shortly after my first power plant blew up. I had to cheat in enough money to build my city up to a freakishly enourmous size, and then start blowing things up, summoning meteor strikes and tornadoes and UFO attacks.

I think the orange glow of the overpasses through the electric blue-white of the surrounding buildings was cool. Also, obligatory headlight streaks.

I could never figure out how to use the fire stations effectively, so all my SimCities (usually called Duckburg or Nickville or something else really uncreative) were slowly, painfully flattened.

Maybe once I’m done being a desktop background photographer, I can get Ikea to buy some of my photos to make art out of.

Leave it to a ten-year-old me to turn a very serious city simulation into a Godzilla movie.

This one turned out pretty well.

The truth is, Tokyo is that freakishly enormous city. I think SimCity used the word Megalopolis… sounds made up to me. Fortunately the Japanese have seen fit to put themselves in charge, rather than me, so no UFO attacks.

I think that’s Tokyo Tower, a big TV antenna that looks kind of like the Eiffel Tower, to me anyway.

And no tornadoes.

Couldn’t decide if I liked this one or the other one better, so you get both!

For a city that is so expansive – the greater Tokyo area is home to almost 38 million people – there are plenty of opportunities to go high. Opportunities like our hotel.

Tokyo Skytree, also a tv broadcast antenna

Or the Tokyo Skytree. This was amazingly difficult to get to and packed with tourists (like us!) but good for more views during the day.

View from the Skytree. The wait to go up wasn’t long, but the wait for a window sure was!

Even at this height, even with the haze, the city stretches on well past the horizon.

Lots of people
Lots and lots of people
And some bridges

However, we didn’t let that deter us from playing Japanese landmark bingo. Here’s a cemetery (I think):

I’ve heard that, in Japan, the dead can only be buried for so long before they have to be exhumed to make room for someone else

Or how about a train and a pagoda?

There’s an amusement park in here, too. Five points to whoever can find it first!

Or how about finding our hotel?

Somewhere that way, I think

The Skytree itself was also cool to look at, even if you don’t fancy heights.

It’s “look up until you fall backwards” tall
I’m glad I wasn’t the one who had to do all the math on these supports
You know how when two mirrors are facing each other, and the reflections of reflections make an infinite tunnel through the wall? Yeah, that’s not this, but it’s close.

I thought the Skytree was interesting, but a very complicated trip by JR and private subway to get to, and really crowded. A good stop, maybe if you’re already in the area.

However, I think the best views were definitely at sunrise, from our hotel.

Tokyo tower and bridge
Thank goodness for jet lag ensuring I’d be awake for this
Another tower view

Tokyo is such an impossibly large city, it gets overwhelming fast. Without a good plan, a visit can easily descend into a back-and-forth of “well, what do you want to do?” And then you might end up just hiding in the hotel, taking pictures.

…now with lights!


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