Topics in Japan #102:
Tokyo Skytree ─ the latest Tokyo landmark
The latest Tokyo landmark is definitely Tokyo Skytree, which just opened in May. At 634 meters, it's the highest structure in Japan and the highest free-standing broadcasting tower in the world. In Tokyo and the surrounding area, Tokyo Tower used to serve as a broadcasting tower for more than 50 years. However, to establish a more stable transmitting environment, the Skytree opened after three and a half years' construction work.
The Skytree was designed in the image of a big tree stretching up into the blue sky, and it also features the unique Japanese curve designs called sori and mukuri. With the two observation decks at 350 meters and 450 meters, Tokyo Skytree lets you enjoy the landscape of Tokyo from much higher viewpoints than Tokyo Tower's observation decks that are at 150 meters and 250 meters.
At the foot of the Skytree there's "Tokyo Skytree Town," a shopping and entertainment complex that has an aquarium and a planetarium as well as many stores and restaurants. Tokyo Skytree Town had more than a million visitors in just the first five days, and is expected to welcome about 32 million visitors in its first year, which will be many more than Tokyo Disney Resort's yearly total of 25 million.
Unlike Tokyo Tower, which is located in the middle of the city, the Skytree was built in a fairly quiet residential area in east Tokyo, where the atmosphere of the old town still exists. With the opening of the Skytree, the neighborhood is also expected to be revitalized by the many visitors. On the downside, local residents have already been annoyed with the trash produced by the Skytree's visitors. The management of the Skytree, the local government and the residents are busy trying to find a way to establish an environment that's comfortable for everyone.