For years, Tokyo Tower was a symbol of Japan’s giant metropolis, surpassing the height of every other structure in the city. In 2011, however, the face of this capitol city changed forever. Tokyo Skytree was built, nearly doubling Tokyo tower in height and becoming what is known as “the world’s tallest tower,” at 634 meters (2,080 feet).
Tokyo Skytree was built as a radio and television tower to broadcast throughout the Kanto region. It was designed to rise above any structure in the surrounding area, and it hits that goal by a long shot. While Tokyo Skytree isn’t the world’s tallest structure, it’s the world’s tallest freestanding transmission tower, giving Tokyo’s skyline a whole new look.
After its grand opening in 2012, rides to the top were offered to anyone willing to reserve a ticket by waiting in line starting at 4 a.m. In the first opening week alone, over 1.6 million visitors embarked on its 450-meter (1,480 feet) high elevator to get a glimpse at the city from an unbelievable vantage point. Now, you don’t have to wait in line quite as long, but there are some things you should know before making your trip to visit this world-renown landmark.
Just about any good sightseeing place in Japan requires a bit of walking, and Skytree is no different. There are two stations that arrive near the tower, but both will involve navigating through shops and streets en route to the ticket counter. Tokyo Skytree Station and Oshiage (Skytree) Station are on either side of the tower, and simply following the signs will get you there directly. Just remember to look up if you get lost.
Entrance to Tokyo Skytree isn’t a simple process. When you find the ticket tent, the first step is getting in line for a pass. This pass is labeled with a specific time and color describing the 30-minute period that you are allowed to get in line to buy your actual ticket. Especially on a weekend or holiday, if you arrive at 1200, your pass might say 1630 or 1730, depending on the crowd. This keeps the lines from being ridiculous and you from having to stand in the cold forever.
After obtaining your pass and waiting until the specified time, you are then allowed to get in line to buy a ticket that will allow you inside. This second line usually takes 45-90 minutes, again depending on the day. After you buy this ticket, however, you have free reign of exploring the tower’s decks and can stay as long as you like.
So, if you are wanting to see the city during the daylight, make sure to arrive before lunchtime. Otherwise, you can have the chance to see the city at night, which is just as incredible.
While a few hours may seem a ridiculous time to wait for something that can take only 30-45 minutes to view, almost every visitor seems to think its worth it. It’s hard to describe the peacefulness of the view at such a height, all while overlooking a city of over 13 million people. It’s an incredible feeling to take in the vastness of such a beautiful city, which can give an eye-opening perspective on life if you let it.
This view is accessed by elevators designed to awe the rider, equipped with a glass roof allowing you to see the inner workings of the tower. The first stop is the Tembo Deck at 350 meters (1,150 feet), where you can either stay to enjoy the view or pay an additional 1,000¥ to ride to the Tembo Galleria at 450 meters. Shops and restaurants are found on the Tembo Deck, as well as the 5th floor alongside the exit.
Things to See and Do
Even with such a great view, twiddling your thumbs while you wait is never a fun experience; hence, Tokyo Skytree Town. With dozens of shops and restaurants, live entertainment outside, and relaxing parks, this area was designed with the “waiters” in mind. You can find different shops from clothing outlets to Hello Kitty, and restaurants themed with French desserts or European Beer. Upon visiting Tokyo Skytree town, you might actually wish your wait was a little longer so that you can see all there is to do.
One fun time of year to visit Tokyo Skytree is around Christmas time. All of Skytree is illuminated in Christmas themed lights from 1700-2300, with the Town decorated like a winter paradise. In addition, this year a German Christmas market will be outside, filled with souvenirs and treats galore. And if you or your child wants to see the tower’s mascot Sorakara-chan, she and her friends will be on the Tembo Deck on select days in December.
Tokyo Skytree is a fun experience any time of year. Make it a goal to take in this incredible sightseeing opportunity during your stay in Japan.