Tokyo Skytree viewed from across the river. Photo by Vidhivas Jotijirakonladhi via Trover
If you are visiting Tokyo with Japanese friends they may proudly suggest a visit to the Skytree. It’s a freestanding tower that is, at 2080 feet, the second tallest in the world and the tallest in Japan.The Skytree has become a central part of any Tokyo visitor’s itinerary and local school children, families and business people enjoy it just as much as any tourist.
I was lucky enough to explore the Skytree shortly after it first opened and crowds were flocking to get inside. We were ushered into a line according to the time on our ticket and taken to a large elevator that flew us up to the first viewing area. The elevator features a shimbashira-seishin, or center column vibration control, which was the world’s first vibration control system.
Rising to the top of the Tokyo Skytree
Our elevator doors opened at the Tembo deck, a height of nearly 1,150 feet. Soft light infused the space. Muffled conversations rose from hushed clutches of viewers examining displays. Most circulated in nearly reverential awe pointing to different neighborhoods far below. One display table showed a looping film of fireworks exploding below the point where we stood! The Tembo Galleria, another 328 feet above features a glass floor where you can feel like you’re walking on air. My mild vertigo, (Sense of self-preservation?!) kept me on more solid footing.
Once we had fully explored the tower it was time for lunch and instead of lining up at one of the mid-air cafes we returned to the main, ground floor plaza. There was a large cherry tree in full bloom surrounded by potted plants. I was mystified. We were visiting several weeks after the peak of cherry blossom season and I couldn’t see a single fallen petal. Only after we had posed for pictures with our Japanese hosts at the base of the tree was the mystery solved. Every single blossom was made of fabric and had been stealthily attached by hand. I don’t know what was the larger marvel, the beauty of the tree or the fact that it had been so painstakingly adorned.
Tokyo Skytree towers above temples and all. Photo: Ricardo Oliviera via Trover
The Skytree is central to the Tokyo Skytree Town, which includes the Tokyo Solamachi, a complex with many shops and restaurants, as well as an aquarium and planetarium. We were there at lunchtime and several restaurants were nearby. We wandered into the commercial area, full of long winding hallways with colorful and varied places to eat. (Designed to mimic the narrow lanes of a small village perhaps?) It was all fascinating for these Western eyes. There were few of us around at that time, so I was able to share the awe of an impressive tourist attraction along with the locals.
If you go
- Be sure to review the maps and transit options on the Tokyo Skytree Town site. This is the English version.
- It’s usually open every day but check on times and tickets at the official site.
- There are also many affordable and comfortable hotels nearby.
This post is part of the Hipmunk Cities Less Traveled Project.