I was just six when I first wanted to ride a bullet train and climb the Tokyo Tower. Now, four decades later, I have done both. The Bullet trains still rank amongst the fastest on the world but the Tokyo Tower is no longer the city’s tallest structure. That distinction now belongs to the Tokyo Sky tree. I was able to scale both last month (and ride a bullet train -review next Tuesday!)
Tokyo Tower -opened 1957- 332.9 metres (1,092 feet)
Designed as a telecommunications tower with two observation levels at 150 metres (490 ft) and 249.6 metres (819 ft).
Modelled on the 324 metre Eiffel Tower, the original proposal was to make it 382 metres tall so it would be a metre taller than the Empire State Building. The builders could not raise enough funds to allow that to happen. Apparently, there are 30 towers around the world that were modelled on the original Eiffel Tower!
The Tokyo Tower has been built to withstand earthquakes larger than 8 on the Richter scale or a storm of 220km/h (140mph) winds. Reassuring to know before going up it.
Unfortunately, the upper tower is being closed for renovation work in preparation for the Olympics in 2020. There are lifts (elevators) or 600 stairs to get to the first observation deck (the stairs are also currently closed). This costs 900 Yen ($US8). Both decks normally cost 1600 Yen ($US14.23).
As well as floor to ceiling windows, there are a couple of windows in the floors:
On the deck are a souvenir store and small cafe. You can even buy an ice cream sundae version of the tower!
I met one of the Tower’s two mascots while up there, known as Older Brother Noppon. He wears blue overalls whilst the Younger Brother Noppon wears red ones. Mascots seem an essential part of Japan and have been associated with the tower since its 40th anniversary of the Tower in 1998. Not sure what I would think of this as a job?
The weirdest display up top was that of a baseball they found during recent renovations sealed inside one of the girders 306 metres above the ground. Much speculation as to how it got there!
I took the metro to Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Subway Line and walked the ten minutes to the Tower. You can also walk there from Onarimon Station on the Mita Subway Line or Kamiyacho on the Hibiya Subway Line. The tower is open from 9:am until 10:30pm.
Tokyo Skytree-opened 2012- 634 metres (2,080 ft)
A broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower with two observation levels at 350 m (1,150 ft) and 450 m (1,480 ft). The tower is the second tallest structure in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 829.8 metres (2,722 ft). It was designed to be 634metres high because that is more easily remembered!
The Skytree tower was painted in a colour that was specifically designed for the tower: Skytree white based on the lightest shade of Japanese traditional indigo blue. At night, it cycles through a range of coloured lights:
A couple of cafes and a shop are available on the lower observation levels. The deck has a theme for each season with shows, music and light displays. While we were there, the theme was autumn (Fall). The upper level features a spiral, glass-covered skywalk called Tembo Galleria. A section of glass flooring gives visitors a direct downward view of the streets below.
The building is open from 8 am to 9 pm daily and costs 1,030 Yen ($US9.17) for the lower level and 2,060 Yen ($US 18.33 for both levels). It has its own station Tokyo Skytree Station (previously called Narihirabashi ) on the Tobu Skytree Line.
The Tokyo Sky Tree has a called Sorakara-chan which, literally translated, means “From the sky-chan. I did not meet her.
As someone who loves tall buildings, I thought both were worth a visit. The buildings themselves are cool, the views spectacular and the overall cultural experience fascinating.
How many of the Top 25 tallest structures have you been to? For me, it is 12.