Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tokyo Skytree, and the Giant Macross Valkyrie

I went out to visit the Tokyo Skytree for the second time and have a stroll through the Solomachi Mall, probably my favourite mall in Tokyo. However, one of the best perks on this visit was seeing the Macross VF-25 Valkyrie at the Chiba Institute of Technology Robot Museum that is on the 8th floor of the mall.
Valkyrie cockpit
Display at Skytree Station
The Skytree is always awesome and it is quite an achievement to build something that high in an earthquake zone and expect it to take it and then some. The last time I was there I went up at night and had a fantastic view of the city lights. This time I went before the mall even opened and was going up the tower at about 9 AM. There were no lines and on a weekday, the school tour groups hadn't arrive yet. The day was hazy, so you couldn't see Mt. Fuji, but you could still see out all over the city.
Tokyo Skytree and cherry blossoms.
This time I went to the lower observation deck and also bought the additional ticket to go up to the Tembo Galleria, the upper observation deck with the spiral walkway up the outside of the tower. I did a circuit on the lower deck to check out the views and most people just ascend to this point. Even at this level, you are basically at the same height as the very tip of the Tokyo Tower so you are pretty high up. There are also interactive displays that show you what you are seeing in the city below.
Lower observation deck
One of the Skytree masots, note it is cherry blossom season.
It was a quick ascent on a smaller elevator to the Tembo Deck. The outer wall is glass and you can see the tubular supports go by outside on the way up and down. The spiral glass rampway up to the gallery deck is much smaller and more intimate than the big lower deck, letting you peer down the side of the tower from way up. Once you get to the top there could be some displays and the elevator back down awaits.
That is the Tembo Deck way down there as the dark ring, and the street is even lower down.
The spiral glass walkway.  You can look way down.
One of the highest bathrooms in the city. Heated toilet seats are so good.  You might need to use this after looking down from the top deck.
If you don't read Japanese, figuring out the high-tech toilet is fun.  Push the left button on the top for the big flush.
The view down from the top
Tokyo Tower in the middle left
After heading up I went back down and the mall had just barely opened. There is a pretty good NHK character gift shop where the elevators came out and I saw Gudetama, Sanrio's newish line of food mascots, for the first time. The little egg is pretty cute. Opening time in the mall is interesting. Like the Japanese department stores, the store staff wait at the entrances and greet you for the first little bit. I went to the Q-Pot kiosk in the mall to pick up a souvenir for my wife as she likes their cute food themed jewelry.
NHK Character Store
Gudetama blind boxes
Q Pot jewelry

The Solomachi Mall is like a little microcosm of Japanese culture and shopping. I do like this mall, and Tokyo Station's First Avenee with Character Street, Okashi Street, and Ramen Street runs a close second. On the fourth floor, there is a souvenir floor, which houses all kinds of Japanese gift shops from Hello Kitty, traditional souvenirs, food models, to Nanoblocks, and Bearbricks. The fifth floor has a Japan Experience floor that houses regional trade shows and traditional Japanese foods and art. A whole variety of regular fashion stores, some not so common stores, and specialty shops are also located here. There is also a Shonen Jump Store, a large Ghibli Store located outside of the mall on the north side of 3rd floor, and some other character goods shops.  There are some great food floors and a very nice food court at the mall too. There is also a bunch of traditional shops and little restaurants on the main floor too.
Curry restaurant in the food court
Tonkatsu curry.  Note they give you a real plate and spoon that you return to the shop after you are done eating.
Rilakkuma
Attack on Titan fan book and model.
Nanoblocks display
Food model store
Hello Kitty Store
Giant Totoro at the Ghibli Store
Neat little stuffy trees and miniature Totoros.
Cat Bus Book Corner
It doesn't seem to be very well known, but on the 8th floor of the tower in the souvenir shop part of the mall is the Chiba Tech Robot Museum. There are some real-life robots here, various science/engineering displays, and then there is the VF-25 Macross Valkyrie in Gerwalk mode. This is the same life-size statue that was one display in Yokohama and other places years ago. I thought I'd never see it, but it now has a home in the robot museum. There are brochures in a number of languages there to describe the various robots and the Valkyrie too!
Chiba Tech Robot Museum
Stair climbing robot
Little humanoid robots about 15 inches high if I remember right
 The Valkyrie from Macross Frontier is located in Area II of the museum and it occupies a pretty big space that looks like a hangar environment. The Valkyrie is a transforming robot fighter plane that can be in humanoid or aircraft configurations. Macross is a very long lived anime franchise that is also known in the USA as Robotech, and this particular 1:1 scale model is one of the latest robot models. My heart great two sizes, just like the Grinch when turned a corner and saw it. I think I must have had a big goofy smile on my face as the attendant there was smiling with me. He kindly took my photo with the robot and watched me shoot a pile of photos as the life-size model is pretty detailed. It is too bad you can't walk into the diorama.
Valkyrie Hanger!
Closeup of the fighter
The detailing on it was amazing.
Graphic showing the 3 robot transformations.
After visiting the Valkyrie I also had a look at the katana blade made from a meteorite that is also housed there. It is a nice looking sword and I've noticed just in the last week that is is suddenly famous on the net for some reason all of a sudden, kind of like that bridge in Japan earlier in the month.
Meteor Sword
I then wandered outside of the mall along the canal to the west where there are some great vantage points for taking pictures of the tower. I had a good curry lunch at the mall then continued onto some other touring.
Skytree and the building with the robot museum and gift shops.
Shot down the canal.

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1 comment:

  1. Going to Tokyo this weekend and your blogs are very informative. Now I have more sights to see on my itinerary. Good job.

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