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The World’s Tallest Tower: Tokyo Skytree

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.

By 4 min read

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.

Getting There

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.

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The Wait

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.

The View

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Joaquin Pellegrino says:

    Wow, something tells me I might have been extremely lucky with my timing.
    I went to the skytree in april this year and didn’t have to wait nearly as much as the article says, barely 15 minutes to get my ticket, and less than 5 in the line to get to the elevator. That was with no prior planification, I just had a free day in Tokyo and was like, “ok, let’s see what the huge tower’s all about”.

    They offered me a “fast-pass” or something like that and I took it, I’m not sure how the regular pass works…

  • Jesse Voutour says:

    I’ve had many friends and relatives visit the Skytree from Toronto, Canada who say they really liked the experience and the ambiance of the place. Yet they all comment on the same obvious comparison. It is identical in every way to the CN Tower. They have the same shape, the same lighting system, the same glass elevators and the same purpose, as a communication tower. Initially, the Skytree was going to be about 30 metres shorter than the CN Tower, but they added a few more metres to the antenna to surpass the nearly 40 year old Canadian tower. I just find this competition to be silly. I think both towers look great and add to both the Toronto and Tokyo cityscapes.

    There are some differences though. The CN Tower has the world’s highest revolving restaurant and the Skytree has a glass tube elevator between observation decks. But there is one nasty difference that the Tokyo government doesn’t want anyone to find out about. It’s one that is expressed by many of those visiting and waiting in the long lines to get in. “I don’t feel well.” “I have a headache.” “My head hurts.” This nasty difference is when it comes to communication, most developed countries follow some form of regulation on radiation exposure and Japan does not.

    I have worked for a telecommunications company for more than 36 years and possess a reasonable understanding of all aspects of this field.

    Many visitors and friends have commented that they are getting headaches and feeling ill when visiting the SkyTree and the surrounding area. Upon leaving the area they begin to feel better and attribute their illness to the high elevator ride or traveling misadventure.

    Most of the world recognizes that electromagnetic radiation produced by such a powerful tower is harmful to humans who are exposed to it. This type of radiation needs to be restricted to prevent tissue damage. You can equate the damage to putting living tissue in a microwave. Basically, the cells in your body are being cooked.

    In Canada the SAR (specific absorption rate) is limited to 0.08 Watts/kg or less, whereas around the Tokyo Skytree it exceeds 100 Watts/kg or 1250 times the legal limit we have here around the CN Tower. But since there is no regulation, who knows what upper level of radiation people are being exposed to. To expose this dangerous energy to an unknowing public after the disaster of the Fukushima meltdown represents deliberate incompetence in the highest degree, where Japanese officials and corporations mislead the public by stating that it was/is safe in contaminated areas.

    The Japanese government doesn’t even acknowledge, state or care that all people living, working, sleeping and playing within a 10 kilometre range of the tower are getting the equivalent radiation as standing inside a microwave that is set on low-medium power.

    This level of radiation is bad enough for a short term visitor or tourist, but horrible for those who have no choice in where they must exist. I feel very sorry for the people there, and unless the government starts to correct their transgressions, my family and I will not be a visitor of the Skytree in the future, no matter how nice a picture is painted by such articles as these.

    I hope that things have change there after a couple of years of operation, yet my research says otherwise. It is still possible they may have secretly corrected some of this problem and I can’t find it. Sorry, Kelsey Leuzinger, but I thought you should know.

  • Boey Kwan says:

    Thank you for your article! This is very informative and helpful. I’m thinking I’ll definitely go there someday 😉

  • Armand Vaquer says:

    I went to the Skytree last February. I didn’t go up as I had a lunch appointment, but there were no long lines and people were able to go up with minimal waiting. It was a weekday.

  • papiGiulio says:

    Meh, ill probably be the only one but ill take the Tokyo Tower over the skytree any day. Good memories there. Much more class, elegance and high enough tbh.

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