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Tokyo Sky Tree

The New Symbol of Japan's Capital City


Towering over the city, Tokyo Sky Tree has become a new symbol and landmark of Tokyo. ©AFLO

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In Tokyo, the capital of Japan, a new tourist attraction called "Tokyo Sky Tree" has recently risen up toward the sky. With a height of 634 meters, it is the world's tallest freestanding broadcast tower. Up until now, most of the broadcasting in Tokyo was transmitted from the 333-meter-tall Tokyo Tower, but as super-high-rise buildings have increased over the years in the Tokyo metropolitan area, transmission has become obstructed in many places. Therefore, a much taller broadcast tower was envisioned, culminating in the construction of Tokyo Sky Tree. Scheduled to open to the public at the end of May 2012, the tower attracted many people's attention as it was being constructed, and it is now being hyped as a "must-see" spot for tourists.

Bringing Together Advanced Technologies and Traditions


When looking up, the tower appears as though it is twisted.

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Tokyo Sky Tree was built in an area very close to Asakusa, a district popular with tourists since long ago. The tower is to the east of Asakusa across the Sumida River and can be reached from Asakusa in about five minutes by train or 20 minutes on foot.

When looking at Sky Tree, one can see that its horizontal section is shaped like a triangle at the base, and it gradually forms a cylindrical shape as the tower rises. This design, which makes the tower appear to twist, draws on and updates the traditional Japanese architectural methods known as mukuri, by which some of the tower's beams and surfaces are twisted in a convex shape, and sori, by which other beams and surfaces are twisted oppositely in a concave shape. The tower design also borrows from the five-story pagoda at the Horyuji Temple in Nara, built in the eighth century, by including a thick central pillar down the middle to make it highly resistant to earthquakes.

About 300 meters above the ground, the tower's first observatory features cafes and restaurants with a total capacity for around 2,000 people. Each of this observatory's three floors has been made progressively more spacious as they go up, offering excellent viewing of the surrounding scenery. Further up is the second observatory, and at 450 meters above the ground, it boasts the highest man-made viewing point in Japan. Visitors can see all of Tokyo, and, of course, Mount Fuji on a clear day.



Left: You can enjoy a majestic view of Sky Tree, reflected in the Kita-Jikkengawa River, if weather conditions allow.
Right: The view of Sky Tree from sightseeing boats along the Sumida River is also a popular attraction.

When operations begin, Tokyo Sky Tree Town will also open at the base of the tower. This complex will be home to cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and stores selling character merchandise. A planetarium and aquarium are also scheduled to open.

A popular spot for observing Tokyo Sky Tree is the Jikkenbashi Bridge, situated about 10 minutes to the east on foot from the tower. Sightseers should be able to see Sky Tree's reflection in the Kita-Jikkengawa River below during mornings when the wind is light. Visitors can also stroll over the Sumida River to Asakusa, a place bustling with many tourists. The sightseeing boats cruising along the river also provide a great view of Sky Tree.



Left: Sakuramochi, sweet-bean-filled rice cake flavored with cherry tree leaves is good to take home or to give to friends. (Cooperation: Chomeiji Sakuramochi)
Right: Neighborhoods around Sky Tree are home to traditional craftsmanship, such as Edo kiriko glasswork, which has a history of 200 years. (Cooperation: Sumida Monodokoro)

In the Sky Tree environs, the atmosphere of days gone by is still preserved in neighborhoods like Oshiage, Hikifune, and Mukojima, where traditional craftsmanship thrives. Visitors can enjoy browsing in the old shops and studios, including glass ateliers of Edo kiriko (cut glass that has a history of more than 200 years), where visitors can try their hand at glass-cutting. Other shops sell tabi, which are traditional split-toe socks worn with kimonos, and take measurements of customers to provide tailor-made items. There are also plenty of local delicacies to choose from, including Japanese sweets wrapped in cherry tree leaves and tsukudani, a sweet and salty dish of shellfish and kelp cooked in soy sauce and sugar.

Meanwhile, many new stores and unique products are popping up with the opening of Sky Tree, and countless delicacies made to celebrate Sky Tree are on offer. One restaurant serves a "Tower Don," a dish made with three deep-fried shrimps formed into the shape of a magnificent tower, while another offers a "Tower Parfait" that stands 634 millimeters tall, representing the 634 meter height of Sky Tree. There is also a bistro serving beer poured in special 40-centimeter tower glasses. The portions as well as tastes of these items are sure to bring full satisfaction. Interesting and cute Sky Tree-related products are also on sale in local shopping districts, including cider sold in bottles shaped just like the tower.

With an incredible view from Japan's newest tower and the chance to encounter the traditions of old Tokyo in the nearby neighborhoods, Sky Tree is definitely a must-see spot when visiting Tokyo.

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"Tower Don" bowl dish (left, cooperation: Sobadokoro Kamimura) and "Tower Parfait" (right, cooperation: Sakura Café Mukojima). Various unique specialties have been created for the opening of Sky Tree.
Cider sold in bottles created in the shape of the tower.

(March 2012)

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