Friday, April 10, 2009

Going Up

I'm not sure what strange, inner compulsion persuades people to go to one of the most earth-tremor ravaged countries on earth and climb a high building with the durability of a pick-a-stick but hey, that's tourism for you. So we spent two nights in the Kyoto Tower Hotel, an ordinary, western-style hotel with a tower on the top. Part of our booking gave us a free trip to the viewing platform which is the orange and white sticking-out bit.

It is modelled on a lighthouse, supposedly looking out over land-locked Kyoto. Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan until someone with dyslexia in government accidentally wrote Tokyo.

I'm not sure why they feel the need to illuminate the name Kyoto Tower Hotel. In St-world the sign would say 'Take a wild guess.'

Another express-lift ride and then a wonderful view of the region at dusk. The platform publicity boasted that it recently hosted a conference for all thirty Japanese towers. I guess they meant the managers. Now that's what I call a niche-market venue.

The telescopes on the platform are very high-powered. We noticed you could not only see to the mountains and the sea but also into the coffee shops at ground level in the station opposite. Espionage possibilities were endless. Cosmo you'd love it but we'd be able to tell what you were reading.

One of the reasons why trains in Japan are so efficient (more on this later) is that the railways own the malls around the stations. These are not like the small range of shops we tend to have at British stations but galleries of designer stores, food outlets and specialist shops. One of my favourite meals on our trip was a lunchtime shrimp and avocado hot sandwich from a station shop (more on food later). The efficiency of the trains (which apparently make little money) generates the footfall to get people shopping.

The view from our hotel window (a mere eight floors up) was of this illuminated Hitachi sign. I wondered if the word 'generation' continued round the corner. It didn't. Inspire the next what? Answers on a comment.

The soundtrack to all this was of the pedestrian crossing at street level which, from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., sounded like someone trying to shoot a cuckoo with a laser gun. You don't mess about on Japanese pedestrian crossings. For starters the journey is long and you need to make good progress to make it in time. For some of the central Tokyo ones I'd advise taking refreshments. Secondly, it is an offence to walk unless the green sign is illuminated. You can be arrested for this.

Having been listening to David Mitchell's Radio 4 programme The Unbelievable Truth I smuggled one lie into this piece. Did you spot it?


Anonymous said...

The lie was Kyoto was the capital etc etc. Am I right?

Debbie K

Ali said...

Note to self: having tried and failed to use the pedestrian crossings in Houston, don't even bother trying if ever in Tokyo