Monday, June 4, 2012

The Ultra Tall Tokyo Skytree - World's Highest Tower

The Tokyo Skytree opened on May 22, 2012.  It pierces the sky over Sumida Ward in Tokyo where it is located and is a replacement for the Tokyo Tower for extending HD TV transmissions.  This tower is the tallest tower in the world at a height of 634 metres (the height is a Japanese pun meaning Musashi - the name of the area the tower is in). The Skytree is the second tallest building in the world, with the 828 metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai being the tallest building in the world.  All we need now is for a Mission Impossible mission to be set here like Ghost Protocol.  For scale, another one of the taller towers in the world is the 553 metre CN Tower in Toronto, Canada and the classic Tokyo Tower that Godzilla smashes is only 332.5 metres high.  See my blog post on the construction of the Skytree and size comparisons here.
Flickr / shin Suzuki
Angry Godzilla with the Tokyo Skytree model - noooo, it just got built!  by Tostzilla
http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

This is a very pretty tower that is all lit up with LEDs at night and can change color.  All tall buildings should light up at night!  Hong Kong is particularly good at this.  I just kind of wish this giant tree also had some branches with holographic leaves or something - that would have been pretty cool.  The Japanese have a ton of myth and anime / video game symbolism involving the Tree of Life, the World Tree, or Yggdrasil.  Skytree is so tall that people worry about ice forming on it and falling down in the winter too.  I am definitely visiting the Skytree the next time I'm in Tokyo for the tower and the interesting attractions right at its base.  Official Skytree website here.
Flickr / shin Suzuki
Skytree   Flickr / Kentaro Ohno
Flickr / kimubert
Observation deck   Flickr / Kentaro Ohno
Observation decks with fabulous views are located in the tower at 350 metres (higher than the Tokyo Tower at the lower deck already) and 450 metres along with restaurants, shops and see through floors that let you look straight down.  Right now the you cannot ascend the tower as tickets have been sold out until July 11, the pre-booking reservation period. This was done as a crowd control measure and apparently everyone wants to experience this tower so I guess it worked.  Of course, it is extra to get to the upper observation deck.


The main complex at the tower's base is called Tokyo Solamachi. This is just a seven-story shopping mall with 312 tenants that also includes an office complex, a dome theater, and an aquarium.  A new development called Tokyo Sky Tree Town surrounds the complex.  The town has an open air market lined with cherry blossom and red pine trees.  Over a half-million people visited the tower and the town complex on the first weekend, far exceeding the anticipated estimate of four hundred thousand.  Twenty six thousand people visited the reservation only observation decks.  THAT IS CROWDED.  Some 32 million people are expected to visit in the first year after opening!

The Sumida Aquarium here is the second largest aquarium in Japan that occupies the western side of the 5th and 6th floors of Tokyo Solamachi.  It will have over 400 different species.  The largest tank recreates the sea around the Ogasawara Islands, a World Natural Heritage site, and includes rare species such as the wrought iron butterfly fish and the green sea turtle. About 10,000 different creatures are at the aquarium and another attraction is a tank with 1,500 jellyfish.

Narihirabashi Station  on the Tobu Isesaki Line was renamed Tokyo Sky Tree Station in March of 2012.  This is the train station closest to the tower. The section of rail line has also been renamed the Tobu Sky Tree Line. The Tobu Railway Co also operates Tokyo Sky Tree along with the mall and entertainment complex at the base.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected per week.

On a side note, I have to say that having the rail companies operate the malls at the train stations and developing the land around the stations has seemed to work out pretty good in Japan.  I loved getting off the train and being in a well developed mall or shopping area rather than just a dingy platform that is found in most cities.  This is the way mass transit should be.  I'm not the only one who seems to think this and I believe the train companies in Japan have the right "magic formula."

Other Tokyo Anime / Otaku Highlights Worth Visiting

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