Japanese Essay Tokyo Tower

東京タワーは、東京でいちばん優しい。Tokyo Tower Is Tokyo’s Kindest Tower

Today we feature a Japanese essay that has an insightful lesson.

It is about the difference between seeing a thing from afar, or hearing about a thing second hand, and seeing that same thing up close. It’s about getting your information, and your experiences, about that thing directly from the source. In today’s age of information gluts, and gluttony, where to “know” something is to say that you once googled it and scanned the the top 3 search result headlines, the essay argues the case for deeper experiential learning.

It uses the spectre of Tokyo Tower, potent symbol of a mega-city, as a parable to explain why it is better to live life in close range, than at  arms length.  It was written by Inazo Inamoto( 稲本稲三) and appeared on his note.com blog. We have a reading of it in Japanese, then in English, then a mix of the two. I hope you enjoy it, and please subscribe if this is of interest, and check out Inamoto’s other work on Note.

Approx Japanese level

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Tokyo Tower Is Tokyo’s Kindest Tower

Today I took what you would call a very ordinary trip. By “very ordinary trip”, I mean going to a place other than my own local area to stay overnight, and live for two days.

In this way, when I feel I’m getting tired, I take myself to a place just a little away from where I am, and provide myself with some time to zone-out. When I busy myself with matters of the office or the home, I can’t help but get myself caught up in thinking “I must finish that…” or  “I must get to sleep”. This is especially so as I do a lot of my work from home, switching from on the job and off the job can become hard to differentiate and there is no day that I don’t think about my work. My house is full of the tools of my trade, I find it hard not to fill every spare moment of time with progressing my work, and even if I don’t get started on something, I think about what I should be doing.

So, to completely relax mind and body, getting out of the house to spend quality time alone is irreplaceable.

I spent today gazing vacantly at Tokyo Tower.

Somehow, Tokyo Tower is a thing beautiful to behold from any angle. Even the people not walking in it’s direction turn to take photographs.

Most of the passers-by are as one in their determination to photograph Tokyo tower at it’s most beautiful, and they repeatedly release the camera shutter, or place their camera on the bare ground, or bend at the waist at unreasonable 90 degree angles, in pursuit of the perfect shot.

You also see care-free lovers luminescent in Tokyo Tower’s haze, middle-school boys lounging round on the lawn staring up at Tokyo Tower, high-school girls going for the Insta-shot, elementary school children sprinting towards the observation deck unable to contain their excitement, every last one of them their hearts moved by Tokyo Tower.

Until now I had thought of Tokyo Tower as being no more than a symbol of the city.

If Tokyo Tower could talk, I thought it would sneer conceitedly, “Behold the financial muscle of the great metropolis, who else could erect such an awesome edifice? Heed Tokyo’s grandeur!”

But, actually, the situation is quite to the contrary.

The more I looked at Tokyo Tower, the greater the sense of calm that enveloped me.

Lover, or no lover, work going well, or not going well, the tower warmly takes in one and all, meets each eye to eye and points not a disagreeable face to any vantage.

In evidence, I noted all but a handful of pedestrians having their hearts repeatedly stolen by Tokyo Tower.

This Tokyo Tower, that keeps the hearts of so many safe, just may be Tokyo’s friendliest giant.

Some things you can’t understand unless you get up close.

It made me think that to simply be satisfied to hear about or see something from afar is a great waste.

I think that from now on, when I have the need, I will entrust my heart to the safekeeping of Tokyo Tower.

Favorite lines


It made think that to simply be satisfied to hear about or see something from afar is a great waste.


Some things you can’t understand unless you get up close.


Tokyo Tower, that keeps the hearts of so many safe, just may be Tokyo’s friendliest giant.

Unfamiliar Words For me

資金力 Financial might

インスタ映え To try and make yourself look good for an Instagram photo


Seeing a picture of an icecream is not the same as eating an icecream. Watching people fall in love in a movie is not the same as falling in love. Gazing at a Tokyo Tower from a far is not the same as seeing the people who live, play and pass through its arches everyday. Inamoto’s essay is a call for mindfulness, but delivered in a modern way without any of the residue that that Buddhist-derived buzzword holds. 

It’s a lesson you don’t have to go to Tokyo Tower to implement. 

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Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).