What used to be one of Tokyo's gleaning sights to see, now takes second fiddle to another more taller and modern structure. Tokyo Tower is still pretty cool, though. At this point, it feels more like a relic of Japan's industrial-ness and commercial prowess from a different time and place. Things change, and the Tokyo Tower still stands to remind us of the past, in the shadow of the present.
It's construction finished in 1958, more than 55 years ago. It was originally built as a antenna to broadcast television and radio signals throughout the metropolis. It's height ensured the signal would travel far enough to the households of Tokyo, and prevent the unnecessary construction of many shorter towers.
The architect, Tachu Naito, chose the Eiffel Tower as the design because it's structural sound design could withstand massive earthquakes, and torrential Typhoon winds. He improved the design slightly increases the height 30 meters above the Eiffel Tower.
Unfortunately, with the conversation to digital television, Tokyo Tower was too short to completely cover the Tokyo area with the digital signal. Plans for Tokyo Skytree began in 2008, and was complete in 2012, which made the Tokyo Tower just a little less special.
I first visited Tokyo Tower 5 years ago, and wrote my experience at that time: June 1st, 2009. I wanted to visit Tokyo Tower again because it was the symbol of Tokyo for quite a while, and is definitely the most recognizable location I first learned about Tokyo. Plus, I figured not as many people would be there as Skytree. (I went to Skytree last year, and had to wait in line for about an hour.)
Tokyo Tower stand a total of 333 meters, the gateway to heaven. It has 2 observation decks. The main deck is at 150 meters. And the special, and much smaller, observatory is at 250 meters. You can buy a joint ticket to visit both decks for a low low price of $16. bleh.
Both observatories offer a 360 degree view of Tokyo. Here's the view from the special observatory.
Despite having perfect beautiful weather, the air was a bit dense. You could see some of the ocean, but could not see the horizon, and definitely could not see any mountains to the west.
I mention this in the Metro Building post, but seeing Tokyo from this height totally gives me Sim City vibes.
Tokyo just keeps going and going. There's so much of it, and so many interesting looking buildings.
To the east, I had clear views of all… those areas. I don't know their names. I guess the Tokyo Port area is called the Koto district 江東区. There's also Haneda airport, and some other stuff.
From the observation deck, there were two particular landmarks I was looking for.
The first was Tokyo Skytree, located not all that far away in the Asakusa area. It was definitely easy to pick out of the landscape. They built it in an area with few other skyscrapers, so it is very visible on the sky line. These days Tokyo Tower somewhat blends into to the surrounding buildings.
The other "landmark" was a park used in several movies when they want to have Tokyo Tower in the background. I took photos from there 5 years ago, and I wanted to do it again to compare. It took a little searching, but I found it. :)
Overall, there weren't a whole lot of people at Tokyo Tower for a Saturday morning. I'm sure the line for Skytree was huge. It was about a 10 minute wait to get to the special observatory, and about 25 minutes to wait to get back down.
Almost all the visitors to Tokyo Tower were foreign tourists, too. Lots of Turkish tourists for whatever reason. Plenty of westerners, and several other asian foreigns. Very few Japanese tourists came here. I think the nation is more obsessed with Skytree, at the moment.
The size difference between the main and special observatories is quite clear.
The main observatory deck had a good view, but no where near the same as the special deck. The special deck was very tiny, and really only offered the view. The main deck was 2 floors with a restaurant, gift shop, and a few other places.
There were also glass portals that looked straight down to the street.
I'm not sure if this visit is really worth the $16 I paid. Unless something interesting happens to the tower, or there's some special event, I probably won't come back here for quite some time. Actually! Maybe I'll return here at night, or at sunset. I have too many day photos of the tower.
But today, I was satisfied with my visit. I bought omiyage for my fellow teachers from the gift shop, and left the tower. On the way back to the station, I went to that park with the good view, and took my photos.
Yeah, maybe next time I'm in Tokyo, I'll try to return around 5pm as the sunsets. Other than that, I plan on visiting Tokyo Skytree next time too.