by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
Today, on the 14th day since its official opening, I visited the Tokyo Skytree. For those who haven't heard, this is the new tallest structure in Japan, and it has also been entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest tower in the world - as of now. In the world that we live in, countries compete to be the best this and the greatest that; to have the longest this and the highest that; who knows how long the Skytree would be able to hold its record, before another structure rises to dizzying heights and overtakes it.
I had arranged to meet with Schauwecker at 13:45 at the entrance to the Skytree. Arriving at Oshiage Station 10 minutes before, I thought that the time was more than enough to get to the meeting place, only to barely make it as I was slowed down more than expected by the massive crowd. Pace slowed to a crawl as I made my way through the Solamachi shopping complex and it was only a weekday afternoon; I wonder what it must be like over the weekends.
The four elevators serving the lower portion of the Skytree are each designed differently to represent the four seasons. In 50 seconds we were 350 meters above ground, looking down at everything else in the city of Tokyo - and beyond. On a day with clear skies, Mount Fuji can be seen from here, but I could only imagine on this occasion as the clouds obscured visibility.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the aerial view that lay before me. I have always thought that cars are the cutest when looked at from far above: they resemble colorful toys neatly arranged in lines and systematically moving amongst buildings which appear like lego blocks.
I purchased another ticket and proceeded to the second observation deck (called Tembo Galleria) which was a further 100 meters higher. The view was great, although I have to be honest and mention that I would have enjoyed myself much more had it not been so crowded. Well, firstly the cafes were all packed and thus I wasn't able to catch a breather, and secondly there were usually black polka dots within my range of sight caused by the cascading droves of heads. You'd even have to queue up to enter the souvenir shop.
"634" in Japanese sounds like "Musashi", the name by which the surrounding region used to be called
For the rest of my visit I toured around the Solamachi complex. The mix of shops was good. There were, as at any shopping complex, boutiques carrying famous brand names; but more interestingly, there were many other shops with unique concepts and goods on sale. One of the shops, for example, exhibited and sold products in their traditional packaging from decades ago. Another was a bar/pub selling different kinds of beer from around the world.
I finally found a spot to quench my thirst at a chic open air cafe. Looking around, I saw many excited people pointing their cameras at the tower which was towering above us. I looked up and took another second to marvel at the tremendous architectural feat. After the rest, I visited the Dome Garden on the eighth story of the east side of the complex. The scenery from the garden was pretty nice with views of the Skytree in the setting sun.
I will definitely be coming to the Skytree Town again, especially since I have yet to visit the Sumida Aquarium, which I was told to be very well done. I will wait though, until the crowds have subsided somewhat. That could yet take a couple more months, judging by the interest generated by this latest must-see landmark of Japan.