Tokyo Skytree soars above the Japanese capital's skyline // (c) 2012 Monica Poling
Stretching nearly a half mile above the Tokyo skyline, Tokyo Skytree celebrated its grand opening on May 22, 2012.
Located in downtown Tokyo, near the popular Asakusa area, the 2,080-foot tower was recognized as the tallest tower in the world by the Guinness World Records Company on November 17, 2011.
Visiting the building’s two observation decks is not for the faint of heart. The Tembo Deck (1,148 feet) comprises ten stories and includes a restaurant, café and gift shop. The breath-stealing Tembo Galleria (1,476 feet) is constructed on five stories, all of which are connected by an exterior glass tube, being dubbed the “air corridor,” which makes visitors feel like they are floating above the city.
Although the building was primarily constructed as a digital television and radio broadcast tower, there is plenty for visitors to do there. At the foot of Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Solamachi houses commercial and office facilities, as well as a variety of shopping and dining options. Shoppers can delight in seven stories of boutiques, shops, and cafes, as well as an aquarium and a planetarium. Another two stories (the 30th and 31st floors) are dedicated to fine dining restaurants.
Although the gleaming building stands at the forefront of modern architecture, its designers relied heavily on Japanese traditions in its construction.
The building’s pale exterior, white with the barest hint of indigo, is a traditional Japanese color called aijiro. Aijiro, often used by artisans in the making of ancient Japanese Celadon pottery, was selected as the exterior color in order to represent the legacy of traditional Japanese craftsmanship. The pale exterior is also the perfect backdrop for nightly illuminations, using eco-friendly LED lights. The patterns created by the lights alternate between two ancient Japanese aesthetics: iki (Japanese chic) and miyabi (traditional elegance).
Even the building height was selected based on traditional Japanese beliefs. In metric height, 634 meters, the numbers translate to “mu sa shi”; the Musashi Province once covered a large part of Japan, including the Tokyo area. The designers’ intentions were to let visitors connect with history by overlooking the area that once was the Musashi Province from the tower’s observation decks.
Visiting Tokyo Skytree will require careful budgeting.
The Tembo Deck costs $30 per person to visit, while visiting Tembo Galleria and its air corridor will set guests back an additional $12.50. The fee hasn’t dampened visitation, however, as both decks are fully sold out through mid-July.
Goway Travel offers a number of Japan packages that include a visit to Tokyo Skytree, including its 8-day Japan in Depth, which starts at $3,099 per person.