Due to being prone to earthquakes, most parts of Japan are not towered by skyscrapers. However, anyone arriving at Kyoto train station would not miss the Kyoto Tower, the highest building in Kyoto, rising at 131 meters (430 feet) above the ground. Designed in the style of a lighthouse, Kyoto Tower is the first of its kind in the world, built by joining steel plates into a cylinder without iron frames. The tower stands on top of a building with 9 stories above the ground and 3 stories under the ground.
Kansai Tourist Information Centre is available on the second floor of Kyoto Tower Sando and has luggage storage and forwarding services to your next destination. You can get Osaka Amazing Pass, JR Pass, Kansai Thru Pass, Kyoto City One Day Buss Pass, sim cards and many other services. There are plenty of English reading materials on destinations all over Japan. The officer manning the front counter has good command of English.
On the same floor as the Kansai Tourist Information Centre of Kyoto Tower, there is a prayer room that can be utilized to pray by the Muslims. They even provide prayer clothes (‘telekung’) for the ladies and prayer mats (‘sejadah’).
I was also introduced to another form of art that is deeply entrenched in Japanese food culture: the realistic mouth-watering plastic food, commonly displayed on many restaurant windows in Japan, tantalising passers-by to stop and look. Foreigners also find these plastic food replicas helpful so that they can anticipate what would their order look like. You can also buy plastic food as souvenirs.
At Kyoto Tower Sando, I learned to make the plastic food version of a Japanese dessert called matcha parfait. Making the plastic food requires basic cutting tools, paint brushes, airbrush guns, hot glue guns and a coat of varnish to make it glisten.
On the first floor of Kyoto Tower Sando, you can buy products of Kyoto like sweet and ¥cosmetics as souvenirs for your family and friends.
There is also a bluefin tuna filleting demonstration every day at 11 am. Don’t forget to buy the assorted sushi for supper!
Located at B1, the food hall serves variety of food from assorted sushi, belt sushi, gyoza, Mexican food, deep fried skewers, bar stands, doughnuts, Chinese cuisine, curry, steak and hamburger. Unfortunately, as of today, there is no halal-certified restaurants at the food hall.
Kyoto Tower is no doubt the best place to enjoy the night view of Kyoto from. At the costs of ¥770 for adults, you can enjoy the 360 degree view of Kyoto from Nishi Hongwanji Temple to Kyoto Aquarium. There is also an information touch panel where you can view the transportation information and history of the famous tourist attractions that can be seen from the observation deck.
You can also enjoy your dinner at Sky Lounge “KUU” bar or enjoy your drinks on the rooftop of the Kyoto Tower building.
The above is written in conjunction with a familiarization trip courtesy of Kansai Gastronomy Tourism Promotion Council Office, Japan Railway Company, Keihan Group, Don Quijote Group, Sakai Tourism and Convention Bureau, and Wendy Tour.