Tokyo Tower is still one of the best places to get that great view of Tokyo. It`s quite incredible to think that this Tokyo icon is more than fifty years old, and it still pulls a good crowd of visitors. And even though it might not be the tallest tower in Japan now, that doesn`t mean anything, as Tokyo Tower`s views are still spectacular.
What`s it like?
I think it is absolutely great. It has undergone so many renovations since it was built that it still looks pretty youthful. There are two observatory decks on the tower and they both offer amazing 360` views of the city. One, called the main observatory which has two levels, is located 150 meters above the ground and the other, the special observatory, is up at 250 meters. The main observatory is split into two levels, the upper which is used to bring visitors up, and the lower level has a cafe and is used to get the elevator back down. One good thing about the observation decks is that they have touch screen panels. They offer information about the various landmarks, plus with the touch of a button they also show a time-lapse video of the city, and there are maps of Tokyo as it was during the Meiji and Showa periods. Depending on which level you go to you can find souvenir shops, live performance areas and a cafe.
What can you see from Tokyo Tower?
It might be fifty years old, but the views, day or night, are pretty amazing. And as it is located in central Tokyo, you can get great views of most of the important spots in the city. This is just a partial list of what you can see from the tower:
Imperial Palace Shiba Koen (also known as Shiba Park)
National Diet building Shinjuku
Odaiba Shinjuku Gyoen
Roppongi Hills Tokyo Midtown
Rainbow Bridge Tokyo Skytree
Yokohama Zojo Temple (also known as Zojoji)
And best of all, on a fine day you will easily be able to see Mount Fuji to the south-west. The lower deck of the main observatory has two lookdown windows in it, so you can see straight down from 145 meters up! It might be a little scary for those who don`t like heights though.
If Tokyo Sky Tree is newer and taller, why go to Tokyo Tower?
Because the views are great. And it is in a pretty central location, not far from anywhere – close to Ginza, Shinjuku, the Imperial Palace and Shibuya. As numerous train and subway stations are nearby, you can get anywhere in the city from Tokyo Tower quite easily. And as the price is quite reasonable (in my opinion anyway), it really is too good to pass up.
What else is at Tokyo Tower?
There is actually quite a bit there. It has a wax doll museum, an aquarium, a mirror maze and quite a few souvenir shops. There is also a food court plus a McDonalds, so there is no chance of you going hungry. Tokyo Tower is often light up at night and the lights can vary from season to season, and depending on special events. For example on October 1, the tower has been illuminated in pink to highlight the beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There was even one year when Tokyo Tower was bathed in green light to celebrate Saint Patrick`s Day. So the chances are that if you go to the tower at night you should be able to see something pretty good. And after a visit to Tokyo Tower, you could always wander down to Zojoji and visit the temple there.
A brief history of the tower
When television broadcasting began in Japan in 1953, the government was worried that the Kanto area would be swamped under the number of transmission towers that would be needed to send out the TV signals. Therefore the government decided to built one large tower that could service the entire region, which is what led to Tokyo Tower. Plus Japan was looking for a monument that would symbolise its recovery from the war.
The designer, Tachu Naito, based his design on the Eiffel Tower and came up with a design that was withstand serious earthquakes as well as typhoons. The Tanaka corporation started the project in June 1957. According to Wikipedia, the a large amount of the steel that was used to create Tower Tokyo came from US tanks that were damaged during the Korean War. When the 90-meter antennae was put in place in 1958, Tokyo Tower became the tallest freestanding tower in the world. It also held the title of tallest structure in Japan until 2010, when Tokyo Skytree overtook it. In December 2012 Tokyo Tower was nominated as an important cultural asset.
The main observatory is 820 yen and the special observatory is 1420 yen.
Main observatory – open from 9am to 10pm, with last admission at 9:45pm. Special observatory – open from 9am to 9:30pm with last admission at 9pm. Tokyo Tower is open all year round. Please keep in mind that the Tokyo Tower may be closed or its operating hours changed due to bad weather or other reasons.
How to get to Tokyo Tower?
To get to the tower, you can use the Oedo, Hibiya, Mita and Asakusa subway lines. You can also Hamamatsucho and and Tamachi JR lines. We have a Google map here that shows you the location of each station:
View Tokyo Tower and the surrounding subway and JR stations in a larger map
You can see the Tokyo Tower website here.