Tokyo Travels Part 09: Tokyo Tower

Every tourist city worth a visit has a tall skinny structure that tourists can ride to the top of.  Seattle has the Space Needle.  Vegas has the Stratosphere.  Toronto has the CN Tower.  DC has the Washington Monument.  NYC has the Empire State Building.

And Tokyo has the Tokyo Tower.

At 333 meters tall, it is 80% taller than the Space Needle. It opened in 1958 and helped symbolize Japan's recovery from WWII. And it was destroyed in nearly every Godzilla movie.  When not under attack by giant lizards, it handles radio and TV transmissions (among other things) that beam silly game shows and news into Japanese homes throughout the area.

It has two observation decks.  Our tour grow went to the lower one because it has a bigger elevator.  Even though we were at just 150 meters, the view was incredible.

I like the shape of this tapered brown building.

Right below the tower is a crowded cemetery.  I thought the contrast between the manufactured nature of the tower, and the nature of the cemetery was quite interesting.

The Tower even looks out across the bay to the Fuji TV building on Odaiba.

It's one thing to look out from the tower.  It's another thing to look down.  The observation deck has windows in the floor so you can do just that.

Here are those same buses from on the ground.

Like any good tourist tower, the Tokyo Tower has it's share of tacky gift shops with souvenirs related to the Tower and to Japan in general.  Prices ranged from cheap to "Are you kidding me?!" And as with much stuff in the industrialized world, much of it appeared to be made in China. Except the Tokyo Banana snacks, which seemed to be local.  And surprisingly tasty. You can also get them at the airport on your way out of the country, too.

Shops and snackbars are not enough for the Tokyo Tower, though. Many for the visitors weren't even there to ride the elevator.  They were there for the Michael Jackson museum in the base of it.

This is one of those things that makes both perfect sense and none at all -- both at the same time.

We had only a short time there before jumping back on the tour bus so we skipped the Thriller nostalgia.

The Tower is also rapidly becoming obsolete.  As Tokyo expanded and grew over the last 50 years, Skyscapers began blocking and interfering with the signal.  The symbol of a new Tokyo can no longer support that new Tokyo.

Fortunately, the replacement is already under construction.  When the Tokyo Sky Tree is finished in 2012, it will be nearly twice the height of Tokyo Tower at 634 meters -- nearly 2,000 feet, and well over a quarter mile tall.  It will have observation decks at 350 meters and 450 meters.

I guess we'll have to go back.

You can find more of my Tokyo posts here.

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