World's tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, opens

By: Posted By Jovarie Downing
By: Posted By Jovarie Downing

Approximately twice the height of the Eiffel Tower, the 634-meter, ¥65 billion (US$806 million) Tokyo Skytree opened to the public on Tuesday.

Tickets to climb the Tokyo Skytree are hard to come by -- individual tickets are sold out through mid-July, leaving visitors keen to ride up the capital's newest landmark waiting until summer at least.

Alternatively, for those wanting their own vantage points of the Tokyo Skytree, here's our guide to getting a classic photo of the structure.

With gray skies and rain across Tokyo on Tuesday, it might be best to wait awhile anyway -- local TV news spent much of the morning rolling shots of the first Skytree visitors getting little but cloud for their money.

Worth the wait

Crowds lined up on Tuesday not for the Skytree, but for its accompanying new shopping mall.
Tokyo Skytree's construction was delayed after the March 2011 earthquake affected the delivery of supplies to the building site. The structure was completed two months late, on February 29, 2012.

The new tower, whose construction began in July 2008, surpasses China’s Canton Tower (600 meters high) as the world’s tallest tower, but is still nearly 200 meters shy of Dubai's 830-meter Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the tallest manmade structure ever built.

Tokyo Skytree will provide services for digital radio and TV transmission, as well as an aquarium, theater, academic institutes and regional heating and cooling facilities.

It will also give visitors a chance to gaze across the city.

Two observatories are open to the public, at 350 meters and 450 meters. The latter features an “air corridor” -- a glassed-in outer walkway.

Simulations have shown Tokyo Skytree is able to withstand an 8.0-magnitude earthquake, according to Hirotake Takanishi, PR manager for the Tobu Tower Skytree holding company.

Tourism officials hope Tokyo Skytree will draw visitors in record numbers -- if they can get tickets, that is.Trinkets and trivia
The lower observation platform houses a restaurant and shops, many of which sell something related to the tower's 634-meter height.

Highlights include various 63.4-centimeter scale models of the structure -- most plastic, but at least one edible version made of kimchi fried rice, believe it or not -- and 634-gram onigiri rice balls (they cost ¥634, naturally).

History buffs will, doubtless, be excited to hear that 6-3-4 can also be read in Japanese as "Musashi," the name of the Tokyo area from around the eighth century.

There's no shortage of souvenirs playing on that fact in tourist stores in the area, of course.

Lastly, Musashi has also been appropriated for the name of the classy-looking restaurant on the Skytree's lower observation deck. It serves French, not Japanese, food for some reason we've yet to grasp.

Getting there
The Tokyo Skytree can be accessed from Tokyo Skytree Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line or Oshiage Station on the Hanzomon and Asakusa subway lines.

The best times to visit will be winter days in January and February, when Tokyo’s usual haze is minimal, or at night when the skyline, as well as the tower itself, lights up.

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