The Sky Tree’s the Limit

Tokyo Sky Tree
Tokyo Sky Tree

A couple of weeks ago the Tokyo Sky Tree opened to the public. At 634m it is the tallest tower in the world. In a beautiful paradox the Sky Tree is a thing simultaneously with pinnacle and pointless.

The Japanese media’s infatuation with it has been nothing short of extraordinary. We’ve had TV programs on it’s perfect design, on how it was built, its LED lighting plan, the opinions of local residents and distant tourists, on the financial circumstances of its owner (Tobu Railways), on the Skytree-Shaped Food that is currently being sold all around Sumida Ward, and on the trouble being caused by bored youth hanging around at the tower’s foot and trampling on the new garden beds.

In the midst of this wide smorgasbord of televisual nonsense has been pervasive coverage of how the Sky Tree makes people feel. “The tower makes me smile”, one woman says. “It raises my hopes for Japan”, says another. “It makes me feel good about the future”. “It makes me think that Japan is really great”. The upper observatory costs a ridiculous $40 per adult but in typical Japanese style it has been fully-booked for weeks in advance.

In evidence that God has a sense of humour, on the opening day the observatory was shrouded in cloud. The honoured first guests enjoyed a view of perfect white, and then become stranded at the top as the elevator had to be suspended due to high winds.

I now agree with one of the aforementioned interviewees. “The tower makes me smile”.

Cold Convenience

Don’t you just hate it when you buy frozen products from the supermarket and, by the time you get them home, they’re frozen products no longer? Has your ice cream become just “iced” cream? Have your vegetables become inedibles? Has your cryogenically frozen grandfather become just a wet cold old dude? Fear not, for Japan can fix that!

Just ask the nice lady at the checkout for a dried ice token. She’ll then give you a bag and a free token to use in a machine near the door that dispenses dried ice right on top of your shopping or frozen relative. Excellent.



“Very Well”, I hear you say, “But what about refrigerated products like milk and meat? They’re gonna feel left out in the cold, in the warm.” (The yogurt is particularly narcissistic, presumably because it has a well-developed culture.)

Hold your horses, you young upstart, for Japan can fix that too! Many supermarkets now have refrigerated lockers where you can store your shopping. This allows you to browse at other stores before returning to collect your frigid fungibles on the way home. Excellent.