The Tokyo Skytree is a new television broadcasting and observation tower, which offers shops, restaurants and an aquarium for visitors to enjoy. It is the landmark of Tokyo and the centerpiece of the Tokyo Skytree Town in the Sumida Ward. Located not far from Asakusa, the tower stands at 634 meters (2,080 feet) making it the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). The tower was completed on February 29, 2012 and its main purpose is to relay complete digital broadcasting signals since the Tokyo Tower, which stands at 333 meters (1,093 feet) can no longer do so, being surrounded by numerous high-rise buildings. The tower project was led by Tobu Railway and six broadcasting companies headed by NHK.
The base of the Skytree is constructed like a tripod, which extends to a height of about 350 meters (1,150 feet) from which point the tower’s structure is cylindrical, offering panoramic views of the Sumida River and the city below. There are observation decks at the 350 meter level (1,150 feet) and at the 450 meter level (1,480 feet). The lower level called the Tembo Deck has a capacity to hold 2,000 visitors and spans three levels. The top level features tall windows, which offer a 360 degree view of the city. There is a large digital touch panel display, which provides information on the various buildings that are visible from the tower. The middle level features a souvenir shop and the Musashi Restaurant, which serves Japanese-French fusion cuisine. On the lower level of the Tembo Deck, visitors will find a café and a section of glass flooring giving them a direct view of the streets below.
From the Tembo Deck visitors can board elevators to the Tembo Gallery located at the 450 meter level (1,476 feet), which has a capacity to hold 900 visitors. The upper observatory features a spiral, glass-covered skywalk in which visitors ascend the last 5 meters to the highest point at the upper platform.
At night, the Tokyo Skytree is illuminated using LED lights. There are two patterns which are used: iki (sky blue) and miyabi (purple).
As the Skytree’s opening approached, people reportedly waited in line for a full week to get tickets. By the opening, trips up the tower were fully booked for the first two months of operation. The tower opened to the public on May 22, 2012 drawing a crowd of tens of thousands, despite rainy conditions which blocked the view from the tower’s observation decks. Strong winds also forced two elevators to be shut down, leaving visitors briefly stranded. According to Tobu Railway, 1.6 million people visited the Skytree during its first week of opening.
Although the number of visitors to Tokyo Skytree have declined somewhat since its opening, please do plan ahead for your visit to ensure that you will have an opportunity to ascend to the observation decks.