tokyo: tokyo skytree opening

© tokyo skytree - tokyo's proud new landmark rivals mount fuji's iconic stature

paris has the eiffel tower, the big ben is london's icon, and dubai flaunts the soaring burj khalifa. oddly enough, the sprawling city of tokyo - the planet's biggest urban area and a leading hub - always lacked a proper landmark building that's instantly recognizable to the world. but that was until last week when the doors opened of tokyo skytree, a tv broadcasting and observation tower in the eastern part of town. standing 634 metres [2,080 ft.] tall, it's the tallest tower in the world and only the second tallest structure worldwide after the burj khalifa in dubai. tokyo skytree is the showpiece of tokyo skytree town, a mall and commercial complex that also recently opened. the tower is very much inspired by historical japanese architecture, and has a triangular shape at the bottom that transforms into a cylindrical shape as it goes upward.

obviously, visitors come here for the two enclosed observation decks that provide spectacular views of the city and far beyond. the tembo deck is located at 350 metres and spans three levels, featuring a restaurant and souvenir shop. located at 450 metres is the tembo galleria which consists of a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. at night tokyo skytree adds visual drama to tokyo's cityscape with two types of lighting, used alternately every other day. as huge crowds of visitors are expected, advance ticket reservations are required through tue - jul 10. strangely, for a structure with such a global appeal the online registration system is in japanese only and is limited to holders of credit cards issued in japan, so you'll have to ask a local to help you buy a ticket [!]. tower location: 1-1-2 oshiage [sumida-ku].

© tokyo skytree - view from below, tembo deck at 350m, tembo gallery at 450m, view from above [top to bottom]