Tokyo SkyTree

Looming like a giant mechanical beanstalk from where I stayed in Asakusa is the Tokyo SkyTree. It's something that I felt that I must not pass up in visiting simply because of its claim to fame: the tallest tower in the world, and the second tallest structure, bested only by that building in Dubai. 

I set aside half a day to visit the tower, which also meant venturing across the river from Asakusa, leaving behind the 6th-century temples to see the gleaming tower of the 21st century,

The Tembo observation deck

I left the hostel to find some breakfast first then I navigated to the subway to reach the complex. It wasn't that far from Asakusa, only two hops to Oshiage station. From the station I went inside the building, going through a maze of shops first. I actually got distracted from all the cool stuff that I see; I wandered around for a few minutes, making mental notes of which shops I'd visit again. I got to the fourth floor where I lined up to buy the tickets. There was already a long line when I got there, and it took me about an hour to get my ticket. 

Tokyo SkyTree in all its splendor

At 634 meters the Tokyo SkyTree is the tallest structure that I have visited so far. It is higher than the Empire State Building by more than 200 meters. Its structure is like a tripod, wrapped by a lattice of steel beams. There are two observatories on it, one at 350 meters and another at one hundred meters above it. My ticket is only good for the one below, called the Tembo Deck.

Facing Asakusa district

Upon reaching the end of the line, we were whisked to an ultra-fast elevator. It didn't take for the elevator to reach the first observation pod; it was so quick that I felt my ears pop due to air pressure. It opened straight to the observation deck, and I wasted no time going round its perimeter. It would seem that I am overusing this phrase, but the view is spectacular. 

Tokyo from 350 meters up

It is indeed the best place to see all of Tokyo - countless buildings of all shapes and sizes stretch for miles in every direction. For its height it was said that you can see as far as 70 kilometers away. The deck also has sections with glass floors, giving you a great, albeit vertigo-inducing, view below.

I often see Tokyo being depicted as a megalopolis in anime films that I've watched, like Akira or Ghost in a Shell, and the depictions were almost uncanny. I keep picturing the landscape as similar to a circuit board, with the thousands of buildings looking like transistors being connected by a vast network of circuits. I marveled on the complexity of the city. 

Sumida River

I felt some grumbling in my stomach at this point so I went around the deck to find some grub. I found some iced coffee and cake, which were expensive, but I bought them anyway because I don't want to pass out of hunger or wait until I get down to get lunch. I also checked the other shops, finding some bric-a-bracs to buy as souvenirs for my mom. I went around some more until I had, visually, my fill of the megalopolis.

Bungee thing in SkyTree

I went down to the fifth floor first, where there are more shops to check out. There was also some live TV show being filmed involving some daredevil strapped in a harness that bounces up and down, with the SkyTree's imposing structure in the background. I then found myself going down, first to the foodcourt where I got something for my (late) lunch, a bowl of ramen from Ippudo. After that I explored the rest of the floors further, snagging some cool stuff to bring home.

Now, only Burj Khalifa remains on my list.

Shops in the fifth floor of the SkyTree

How to Get There
The Tokyo SkyTree is accessible through two subway lines: either on the Tobu SkyTree line, which is one stop from the Asakusa Station, or via the Toei Asakusa Line, two stops from Asakusa terminating in Oshiage station.

Useful Info
Tickets may be purchased online or at the 4th-floor ticket booth. Adult cost ¥2,060, up to the Tembo deck, and an additional ¥1030 to go up the Tembo Galleria. Advanced tickets with assigned day and time are more expensive. ¥2570. Website:

The rest of the SkyTree complex


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