Every time I visit Japan with my family, there are always many nostalgic moments for me. Even though I’ve been living in the US for close to 20 years, Japan will forever be my home. Of the scenic places I see, Tokyo Tower is among the top places which bring about a special feeling whenever I see it.
On my way to and from Narita Airport (from/to Yokohama), one of the bus routes usually drives right by the tower. My two children get super excited at the sight of the orange tower whenever we’re close by and point it out to us. Last summer when we visited Tsukuji Market, it was a good opportunity to visit Tokyo Tower the previous evening as it was nearby.
Tokyo Tower History
Until Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2012, Tokyo Tower was the tallest building/structure in Japan at 333 meters. Built in 1958, the tower served as a communication tower for radio, digital television, and analog television. The design of the tower was inspired by Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The tower completed building from start to finish in about a year and half in 1959, with a 90 meter antenna at the top of the tower. When the tower was built, it was able to transmit signals to the entire Kanto region.
As Japan transitioned to digital television, it was not tall enough to broadcast to the region and Tokyo Skytree now has the primary duty of broadcasting digital tv signal.
The Main Observatory at Tokyo Tower
There are two observatories at the tower; Main and Special Observatory. As of June 2016, it costs:
- Adult (high school +) – Main 900 yen, Special 700 yen
- Child (elementary through middle school) – Main 500 yen, Special 500 yen
- Child (4 – elementary school) – Main 400 yen, Special 400 yen
The main observatory is made up of 2 floors, the elevator from the lobby goes directly to the higher level at 150m above ground.
The elevator ride up to the main observatory is pretty exciting, as part of the elevator is glass and you can look out and feel yourself flying up through the steel structure.
You can walk around and enjoy the panoramic view of Tokyo, browse the gift shop, or purchase the tickets for the special observatory on this floor. If you choose not to go the special observatory, you will head down to the first floor of the main observatory.
On the first floor, there are 3 occasions per year which the tower has special illumination
- Tokyo Warm Light (April to May)
- The Milky Way Illumination (June t0 July 10)
- Christmas Illumination (Nov 3 to Dec 25)
We were there during the Milk Way Illuminations last summer.
Another cool feature on this floor is the look down window, as you can see the ground 145 meters below you.
The Special Observatory at Tokyo Tower
For our visit, we opted to go to the special observatory at 250m above ground.
The special observatory space was much small but had an amazing view of Tokyo. We were lucky and visited on a very clear night so we could see the expansive view of the city. Since the tower is located in a central location compared to Tokyo Skytree, I personally feel the views are better.
No plans on visiting Japan anytime soon? Don’t worry, you can enjoy the view still. On the Tokyo Tower official site, there is a camera that pans around and show you the live stream of the scenery around the tower. Alternatively you can enjoy the 360 view here with the names of major landmarks nearby. It’s definitely not the same as being there in person but at least I can still share the views of my beautiful country with you.
- One third of the steel used for the construction of the tower was from US tanks damaged in the Korean War
- The tower is painted orange and white to comply with air safety laws
- There is a Shinto shrine on the main observatory deck