View from the Top

The past couple days have been a little rough. I’ve been overwhelmed by the apartment search, and feeling a little lost and lonely. I feel like I’m in limbo – I’m here, in Tokyo, but I don’t yet have a place to live, and I haven’t started working yet. I have so much to do and to figure out in terms of getting settled, I don’t even know where to get start. I allowed myself one “cheat day” to lie in bed, watch Friends, Skype home, and cry. Then at 5 pm, I dragged myself out of bed, gave myself a pep talk, got some food and coffee, and went out into the world to do what I came here to do.

To boost my sprits, I visited the Observatory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The attraction was described to me as, “the same view as the Sky Tree, but free,” and is less than a 10-minute walk from my short-stay apartment. The building is 243 meters (797 feet) tall, and used to be the tallest building in Tokyo, until it was overtaken by the Midtown Tower in 2007. I entered the massive building, waited in a short line to get to the elevator, and was on my way up to the 45th floor. The elevator was full of tourists from all over the world, speaking in a chorus of foreign languages. The entire 45th floor of the building is an observatory, with big windows on all sides and a gift shop in the center.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building from the Ground

It was crowded, so I had to wait a minute to get up to the windows for an unobstructed view. And once I did… it was breathtaking. The views were absolutely spectacular. I saw all of Tokyo, stretched out out in front of me, a massive, sprawling metropolis. The sheer size of the city truly is astounding. And from up there on the 45th floor, I could see it all.




I took my time, walking around and pausing at each window, to look out in every direction. To the north I saw the neighboring giants of the “Skyscraper District,” to the east, I saw the Tokyo Bay, and to the west, I saw the mountains. In all directions, I saw nothing but city and street, buildings and more buildings, for miles and miles. By population, Tokyo is the largest city in the world (metro area, not city proper). A staggering 36.9 million people live in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. And for the next year, I’ll be one of those people. Me, who grew up in the tiny town of Galiesto, New Mexico, population 265. Let’s take a moment for that.

Selfie at the top

Being up there, and seeing the city from that perspective was thrilling, inspiring, and scary. Tokyo is just SO BIG.

It’s exciting, because I have so much to explore. Just think of everything out there – new friends to meet, new restaurants to try, new adventures to be had. I could go visit a different part of the city every single day for the next year, and I would barely scratch the surface. There is simply so much to do, and so much to see.

But it’s also a little daunting. In a city so vast, where do I even start? How am I going to find my place, among so many millions of other people?

Ask me where Kichijoji is in this picture, I have no idea. 

I stayed up in the observatory for a couple hours, musing on my thoughts, watching the sunset and waiting for it to get dark. The city was beautiful at night, with millions of lights sparkling against the darkness. I felt better coming down the elevator than I did going up, feeling calm, but also energized by the city. I have a grand adventure in front of me, and a big city to explore. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be great. And maybe looking at it in the big picture – the whole year, is too much. All I can do is take it one day at a time.

Tokyo at night



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