2019 Spring Carter Wynne Temple Japan Temple Semester

The 59th Floor

For whatever reason, I’ve spent an unusually large amount of time in the past week going to the top of skyscrapers. In all honesty, it’s a bit addicting. I’m sure everyone has experienced a similar sensation before: looking down at your world from a bird’s eye view and feeling relatively small. In sense, this phenomenon is quite thrill-inducing and gives you a glimpse of the true magnitude and dynamism of the sphere in which you live. I’m originally from Washington, D.C., so I remember the days when my friends and I would go to the top of the Washington Monument and gaze down at our city. The Washington Monument seemed daunting to me as a naive sixteen year old. I felt as though I was floating above it all – existing in this impermanent other-worldly realm. Since coming to Tokyo and particularly during my recent “skyscraper bender”, I’ve realized that the Washington Monument was just the tip of the iceberg for this type of sensation.

This past weekend, I visited Tokyo Tower, viewing the city at an impressive three-hundred and thirty meters in the air. Just this afternoon, I went to a lovely little coffee shop on the 59th floor of Sunshine City Mall in Ikeburkuro. As I sipped my latte, I was genuinely mesmerized by the panorama. To put it bluntly, the views from these two buildings were absolutely exquisite. It was humbling to look out to Tokyo from such an elevated perspective and still not be able to see the limits of the city’s boundaries. People looked like peas and the buildings around them were sown together in a uniquely disjointed, yet nonetheless systematic manner. I was taken aback by these experiences. I didn’t anticipate being so positively overwhelmed by the sights of the cityscape. I know it may sound strange, but I felt a degree of pleasure from observing my own relative insignificance. 

The ability to see the enormity of Tokyo in all of its glory inadvertently helped me put my own daily grievances into perspective. When I was looking out of the windows of these skyscrapers, I couldn’t help but think about the millions of lives coexisting, fluctuating, and persisting throughout this extraordinary landscape. Without a doubt, my own internal tensions and frustrations seemed less significant or compelling when I considered my role in the grand scheme of things. When I looked out the window, as cheesy as it sounds, I felt like I was part of something bigger – a cog in the machine, if you will. I definitely will be returning to the 59th floor of Sunshine City for another latte.

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