Towering high in the Narihirabashi/Oshiage area of Sumida Ward in Tokyo, the much awaited debut of the Tokyo Sky Tree is finally set on May 22, two months late due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year.
Completed on February 29 by the Tobu Railway, in partnership with NHK and five other commercial stations, the Tokyo Sky Tree is now officially considered as the tallest free-standing tower in the world with a height of 634 meters; and the second tallest structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Its construction costs ¥65 billion.
Dubbed as the “White Tower”, the entire body of the Tokyo Sky Tree is coated with white paint and the lightest shade of indigo dye, which symbolizes the pride of the locality. The tower will be lit up by a new style of lighting called “iki” and “miyabi” designed to enhance the beauty of the tower by integrating together the parts that are illuminated and the parts that are not. It also has television antennae on its top.
The Tokyo Sky Tree will provide digital radio and television transmission services since the analog broadcasting in Japan has already ended in July 2011.
Apart from becoming the digital broadcast transmitter of most stations in the country, Tokyo Sky Tree’s very own town is also expected to draw local and foreign tourists, whose numbers have decreased in the aftermath of the twin disasters and the nuclear crisis it sparked. The Tokyo Sky Tree Town houses several attractions including two observatories – one at 350 meters above the ground and another at 450 meters above the ground. These observation decks provide a breathtaking view of the whole Kanto area. Furthermore, there are shops, restaurants, cafes, theaters, museums and aquariums for the enjoyment of the visitors.
The Tokyo Sky Tree is also equipped with disaster prevention features. Simulations have shown that it is able to withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.
The Tokyo Sky Tree spans the area between Tokyo Sky Tree Station (formerly known as Narihirabashi Station) on the Tobu Isesaki Line, and Oshiage Station on the Asakusa Subway Line, Hanzomon Subway Line and Keisei Oshiage Line. Alternatively, it is a 20-minute walk across the Sumida River from Asakusa.
(Photos by Din Eugenio)
(Published in the May-June 2012 issue of FilJap Magazine, Japan)