Sky Tree

From our hotel, there’s a nice view of the Sensō-ji Temple, and off in the distance, the tallest free-standing tower in the world, the Tokyo Sky Tree. From the moment we checked in, getting to the top of the Sky Tree was on my list of things to do in Tokyo.

The rain we had experienced for the last two days was the result of a cold front that was forecast to pass though Tokyo Saturday afternoon. So, after our visit to Shinjuku Gyoen, we found the nearest subway and sped off to Tokyo Skytree Town, the complex that includes the tower and a 31-story office tower and shopping mall next door. The tower is just a short walk from the Oshiage subway station. To find it, all you have to do is look up:

From the station, we followed the crowd into the base of the tower, then I noticed that the brochure mentioned a bypass lane for international travelers (for a reasonable surcharge). We slipped out of line and found the “Fast Skytree Ticket” line and zipped right up to the Tembo Deck, the “lower” observation deck at 350 meters, 1,150 feet! From the Tembo Deck, we looked for our hotel across the Sumida River. We had a hard time finding it at first, but the Sensō-ji Temple stood out and from that landmark we located our hotel:

Construction of the Sky Tree Tower began in 2008 and it was completed on Leap Day, February 29, 2012. As I mentioned, it is the tallest free-standing tower in the world. It is also the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. The tower is engineered to withstand earthquakes and it now accommodates 9 television and 5 radio stations that broadcast throughout the entire Tokyo metropolitan area. The view on a clear day is magnificent:

I especially like this photo because it shows the shadow of the tower.

From the Tembo Deck, there’s a second elevator that travels up another 100 meters to the Tembo Gallery observation deck where there is a glass floor. That yellow rectangle to the right is a helipad on the office building, below; to its left is a railroad depot. It’s a looooooooong way down.

The total height of the Sky Tree Tower is 634 meters, or 2,080 feet, nearly 4/10ths of a mile! The height was chosen for a purpose. The Japanese have a penchant for something they call “goroawase,” number puns. These numbers, 6, 3 and 4, can be vocalized as mu (6), sa (3), shi (4). Together, as 634, they are “musashi,” the historical name for the region where the Sky Tree now stands.

We had a coffee at the snack bar on the observation deck, then descended and walked back toward our hotel. From the other side of the Sumida River, I took the picture, below. That the little building immediately adjacent to the left of the Sky Tree Tower is a 31-story office building.

Wow. Just, wow.

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