The Old and The New High Places and Fear

Today the oldest and I both had the day off (well, sort of, I had to do some “work” in the morning, for six hours, no really, six hours, officially). Because of this, and despite the heat, we mustered up the energy to go down to Tokyo and visit Tokyo Sky Tree, which is the tallest tower in the world and, for now, the second tallest structure in the world.

Tokyo Sky Tree is just a short walk from Asakusa and the Asahi Brewery Headquarters (which is designed and colored to look like a tall glass of beer) and the Asahi Beer Hall which is famous for, well, let’s just say I had to explain to our oldest that it was designed to look like a hibachi and flame but apparently no one told Philippe Starck that the design looked like the standard Japanese cartoon depiction of poop.

The adventure, as all things tend to do in Japan, involved an hour waiting in line. Oddly we didn’t complain as, unlike Tokyo Disneyland/line, the wait was indoors and air conditioned. Once we had a ticket, we were hustled to an elevator and whisked up to 350 meters (1,148 feet). At this stage, there are restaurants and shops and a ticket counter for getting tickets up to the highest deck. I splurged and we were whisked up another elevator, this one with a glass top and glass doors to 440 meters (1,443 feet). At this point, to get back down, you have to walk up what’s basically a glass tube to get to 450 meters (1,476 feet) and the down elevators.

Oddly, at this point, I wasn’t having too many issues with heights.

The elevator takes you back down to the 350 meter deck and you then have to walk down to 340 meters (1,115 feet). At this level, which is the bottom of the three level lower deck, there’s an area with a glass floor. Our oldest walked out on it with no problems. In my case, however, the different parts of my brain had a short chat. My logical/reasoning brain, as small as it is, pointed out that there was nothing to fear as not only was the floor well designed, there was a actually a second floor below it. My lizard-brain responded with “Gyahhh! No! No! No! Danger! Bad! Fall Bad! Splat Bad! Glass fail! People fall! People die! People stupid! Me smart! You die!”

I took a step on to the glass, took a picture, then stepped back off as my logical/reasoning brain started listening to my lizard-brain and realized that the reason there was a second floor was because it was possible for the first floor to fail.

Part of the problem was there were dozens of people around and on the glass floor. If I stood in place trying to get my courage and focus built up, I was constantly getting jostled. If I could focus, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. For example, I no longer have problems with the skywalk in the NS Building in Shinjuku because I’m able to relax and focus.

I crossed around to the other side of the glass floor near the window determined to try it again, but the view and the realization we were hanging over nothing made even my logical/reasoning brain shout “Fly, you fool! Fly! Er, I mean FLEE not FLY because FLY is totally what you want to avoid! Although, technically it’s FALL not FLY.” Of course, my escape was cut off by a little old lady who refused to move which meant I had to listen to my logical/reasoning brain snap and start comparing the glass floor to the Moon Door in Game of Thrones.

Eventually we went back down to the ground level and had lunch. Then, since our oldest had never visited Kaminarimon and Senso-ji, we took a brief side trip down Nakamise Street to eat agemanju or deep-fried sweet bean pastries (which, against all reason, are among my favorite sweets in Japan).

Unfortunately, we too hot and tired at that point to enjoy the temple, so we packed it in and went home. Luckily we woke up before our stop.

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