The Tokyo Skytree offers the highest views of Tokyo. // © 2013 Japan National Tourism Organization
Apparently a fear of heights is not as common as I thought. It’s been more than a year since the Tokyo Skytree opened, but when I visited in March, it was clear that the buzz surrounding the Sumida attraction had not died down. At 2,080 feet, the Tokyo Skytree is the world’s tallest free-standing tower and nearly double the height of the Tokyo Tower, which measures a relatively paltry 1,093 feet. The top viewing level of the Skytree is at 1,476 feet, making it the fourth-tallest observation deck in the world.
For a city where so much happens underground — in the impressive subway system where, of course, the Skytree has its own stop — the bird’s-eye vantage point of Tokyo feels even more privileged. Views of the city’s densely packed sprawl offer a new perspective of the great city. That’s not to say that visiting the Skytree is the ultimate high — crowds are still fierce, and wait times for tickets can reach about an hour. Purchase tickets in advance (adult prices start at about $20), but be aware that you will still have to wait in line to get into an elevator to the observation deck, which can also be quite crowded during the day. For those who are downright acrophobic, there’s the surrounding Tokyo Solamachi shopping and dining complex. Of note is Italian market-fresh restaurant La Sora Seed, which is a great option for visitors who prefer to enjoy the views without the crowds.
Those who make it to the Tokyo Skytree will find a vibrant scene: Locals and visitors of all ages point out landmarks, squint through fog in hopes of spotting Mount Fuji (only possible during the year’s clearest days) and, of course, take photos of the city and themselves. If you really want to test yourself, go to the area of the Skytree with glass flooring and look down — the mix of fear and excitement will provide a dizzying natural high.