Minato (港区), or Minato City as it’s often referred to in English, is the business and diplomatic hub of Tokyo. Not only does it boast 49 embassies but is also home to companies such as Honda, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Sony and dozens of others who decided to choose the skyscrapers of Shiodome district of Minato as their base in Tokyo. If that wasn’t enough, there are 10 colleges and universities strewn across the area, making Minato City a real competitor for the title of the Heart of Tokyo, should such a competition ever take place! Yet if it did, it wouldn’t be all the above mentioned assets of the district that would probably weigh the scales down in favour of Minato, but a local landmark and tourist attraction that can be seen from many places in the city. I’m speaking of Tokyo Tower.
During my flying visit to Tokyo back in 2010, I was lucky enough to visit quite a few unmissable tourist hotspots and recognisable landmarks. One of those was indeed Tokyo Tower located in Shiba-koen district of Minato.
To make my money last while backpacking my way across various countries, I’m forced to keep a tight budget. As a result, I walk a lot – something I actually quite enjoy. And so, while wandering around Tokyo I spotted it’s Eiffel Tower replica from many places. It gave me a feeling of being anchored and the knowledge of how far away from the city centre I was. Finally, after a few days of seeing the tower from afar, the day had come to finally see it from up-close.
Built in 1958, partially from scrap metal obtained from American tanks that were damaged in the Korean War, Tokyo Tower is essentially a replica of the Eiffel Tower from Paris. However, it is whole 13 metres higher than its French counterpart. It managed this after an 80-metre-long antenna was installed on the top. It is this antenna that helped Tokyo Tower keep the title of the tallest structure raised in the territory of Japan until 2010 when the famous Sky Tree opened for visitors.
That warm sunny May afternoon I had a fantastic traditional Japanese lunch with a friend near Daimon Station and afterwards strolled towers the landmark. On arrival, like so many tourists, I purchased a ticket and a fantastically amiable and polite uniformed young female lift operator catapulted me to the top of Tokyo Tower in seconds. Once on top, Minato City, and in fact the whole of Tokyo, unfolded at my feet in all its modern greatness.