The Tokyo Sky Tree reaches its second anniversary of operations on May 5th, 2014. The Sky Tree has now taken the “leading role” for Tokyo sightseeing. Its appeal is in the view from its observation decks, in walks around the Sky Tree which give one a sense of the shitamachi (an old-style working class neighborhood) atmosphere, and in the many other ways to enjoy the tower. Taking photos of its beautiful form stretching high into the sky is also one of the ways to enjoy. Did you know that there are works of art at many Tokyo Sky Tree viewing spots? Why not look for these photo spots which are made all the more interesting by art while enjoying a shitamachi walk?
Search for the Artwork Around the Sky Tree!!
The area from Asakusa to the Tokyo Sky Tree is a curious neighborhood where the old and the new exist in harmony. The friendly shitamachi atmosphere, the Edo-era style, and now the towering Sky Tree. Are you aware of the GST Art Project that also resides in this neighborhood? In “GTS”, the G comes from Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku (Tokyo National University of Arts and Music), T from Taito Ward, and S from Sumida Ward. The project has placed 12 works art of in Sky Tree viewing spots along the Sumida River, which runs between Taito Ward and Sumida Ward. These spots are interesting places where you can take commemorative photos that are a little different from usual.
The first work of art is on the bank of the Sumida River and is titled “LOOK”. It’s a large arrow that is pointing at the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree. Inside the artwork are two levels of benches to relax on. It’s an ideal viewpoint from which to look at the Tokyo Sky Tree extending high into the blue while watching boats come and go. There is also a work where you can look at the Sky Tree while laying down on your back.
A Work of Art That Mimics a Hokusai Painting? The Tokyo Sky Tree Between Countless Rods
At the foot of the Tokyo Sky Tree in Kome Children’s Park are numerous narrow rods. They look as if they are competing with the Sky Tree, reaching as high as they can. I gave this work of art my own personal title, “I won’t let the Tokyo Sky Tree beat me!!” However, the actual name of the piece is “Oboroke”, meaning “indistinct”.
Wondering what is “indistinct”? Viewing the landscape of people and buildings through 161 narrow rods makes the scenery become indistinct, which is precisely why the Tokyo Sky Tree appears to stand out so conspicuously in this artwork. This technique is a method that was often used by Katsushika Hokusai, who was born in Sumida Ward. Using clouds and rain to create the appearance of depth, it was a painting technique which unified scenes of the daily lives of Edo-era people against Mount Fuji in the distance. It was one of his unique methods of expression which took the world by surprise.
A Beckoning Cat also Becomes Art
Near the base of the Azuma-bashi Bridge which connects Asakusa to the Tokyo Sky Tree is an artwork called “Sorachan” (sky). Here sits a Maneki Neko (a cat figurine with one raised pay, literally translated as “beckoning cat”), appropriately placed at bridge filled with comers and goers. This piece originated from the nearby shine famous for charms meant to help singles tie the knot, Imado Jinja Shrine (Taito Ward). The marble Maneki Neko “Sorachan” has concave lenses located in hearts on its eyes and chest, and if you peek into these lenses you will see miniaturized versions of the Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi Beer Hall in a reflected, small world.
Whether Travelling Alone or with a Group, Get a Commemorative Picture with the Sky Tree
If you’re going to get a commemorative photo with the Sky Tree in the background, get it here. This is where art is that makes it easy to take a commemorative photo of yourself. Located a 5-minute walk from the Tokyo Sky Tree’s Solamachi in Oyokogawa Shinsui Park is “Reflectscape”. A panoramic view of the Tokyo Sky Tree is reflected on a big mirror. A small road aims for the soaring Sky Tree. So then, what kind of interesting commemorative photo will you take here?
A Neighborhood That Blends the Old and the New
A tour of these artworks is sure to bring a rediscovery of the charm of the area around the Tokyo Sky Tree. In fact, some artworks are located in small back alleys that can be hard to find. Even if you tour the sites while looking at a map, you will get lost, which is the real pleasure of a walk through a shitamachi. Go a little ways down a small alley and you’ll encounter a landscape rich with the friendly shitamachi atmosphere at places like temples, traditional Japanese restaurants, old style coffee shops and more. If you come upon a spot that looks interesting, go ahead and take a little detour.
This picture is from Mitsui Jinja Shrine, where the god of wealth and the god of fishing from Sumida’s Seven Deities of Good Fortune are enshrined. Here you can get a photo of a cute fox statue and the Tokyo Sky Tree. The view of the futuristic Tokyo Sky Tree peaking its head up over the grounds of this historical shrine is a scene that’s characteristic of a shitamachi.
Touring the Art That Makes a Walk Around the Sky Tree Fun
You will need 3 items for a tour of these artworks: a camera, a map, and a playful mood. This is not a busy street full of tourists, this is a walking trip through back alleys to find works of art. The area around the Tokyo Sky Tree is a place where the good old Tokyo shitamachi spirit remains. It is also an evolving neighborhood with new shops opening daily. You’ll encounter scenery with an irresistible atmosphere and maybe even new shops not yet listed in any guidebook.
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