Landmark Tower, Mount Fuji and One Piece Everywhere
Even though we have been living around here for a while and had taken a couple of holidays here previously, we have never been to Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan. To be fair, being English, we don’t expect much from our ‘second largest’ cities. After reading a little in guide books and around the web, however, there seemed to be plenty to do and we decided to give it a chance.
The first thing that stood out to us was undoubtedly Landmark Tower, the tallest building (although not tallest structure) in Japan. When on Sunday, the clouds were noticeable only in their absence, we decided to head out and find out how far we could see. It just so happened that we could see very very far. There’s something very special about the city vistas in Japan. All you can see for miles in any direction is a sprawl of buildings and roads which are seemingly fenced in by a border of mountains in the distance. It may not produce the sort of feeling that a natural wonder can produce, but you can’t help look upon it with awe as you think about all the people below – as small as ants from the top of the tower – going about their daily routine.
In the morning we had to catch three different trains to get to our destination. Each was only for a short time, but I am of the opinion that it is the transferring of trains which is the real drain on the soul, especially given that the Japanese’s usual affluent politeness and manners seem to go out of the window as soon as they set foot in a train station and any remaining civility is choked the moment they step on a train. I’ve seen 70odd year olds literally having to race salarymen to the seats and I once saw a guy throw his briefcase under the descending bottom of another commuter in an attempt to secure the end seat. They certainly aren’t going to do me any favours.
As we walked to the tower, we saw a group of people waiting outside a hotel with cameras and autograph books. We found out only later that they were waiting for the Barcelona football team as the Fifa World Club Championship final was being played at the Yokohama Stadium. Given that the limit to my waiting time would have probably been ten minutes and that the people were still stood waiting when we left (around 4 hours later), I’d say we made the right choice in walking on.
The entrance to the observatory was deserted, with the majority of people heading into the shopping centre. The first thing I noticed about the entrance was that the One Piece main theme was playing in the background.
I love One Piece. I make no excuses for loving One Piece and I think it is a great show. I didn’t discover it until maybe a year ago, but have since then managed to watch 500 odd episodes of the show (it sounds a lot but you only actually get about 15 minutes of new material after the re-cap and opening credits). I never realised until I arrived in Japan, just how popular it is here. It’s pretty much the equivalent of the Simpsons for us Westerners. I was delighted to see that the staff at the entrance were dressed as marines and that the lady that showed us to the lift was dressed as Tony Tony Chopper.
The elevator in question is the World’s second fastest, travelling at 12.5 m/s and reaching the 69th floor in 40 seconds. The lift journey is very pleasant. The lights are dimmed and a reproduction of a starry sky is shown on the ceiling. The ride was very smooth and I don’t remember my ears popping at all.
At the summit, we were again welcomed by One Piece music. There were also stands where you could have your photo taken with some of the props from the show. I had my picture taken with the Monkey D. Luffy hat and jacket. The view from here was amazing. Fuji was there in all its glory and the city was staggering.
When we arrived at the shopping centre again, the extent of the One Piece PR work was evident. Banners adorned the walls and were hung from ceilings. Certain restaurants were providing One Piece dishes including a Straw Hat omurice and a Tony Tony Chopper dessert. There were also several statues of the Straw Hat crew scattered throughout the floors. At the foot of the impressive Christmas tree was a Tony Tony Chopper figure, although the chances of me getting a photo of this were zero due to the small children clamouring to have their photo taken with him. Who needs Santa when you have a cute talking reindeer? And, yet again all the music played in the shopping centre was One Piece related. For me it was a kind of dreamland, but for others I can imagine it was a little strange. Whilst having our lunch on the 5th floor next to the window in one of the few places we weren’t required to queue, we noticed that several giant One Piece prints had been set on the floor below.
Besides the One Piece influence, the shopping mall is already a bit of an Anime haven. On – if I remember correctly – the third floor was a Pokemon Centre, A Shonen Jump store and a store that sold various Studio Ghibli (Miyazaki et al) merchandise. If you are interested in any of that sort of thing, it’s definitely worth a visit. For anyone in Japan right now, I think the One Piece things lasts until Christmas day.
Have a better one!