Tokyo Tower was built as a communications and observation tower back in 1956 and is located in the Shiba-koen district, right next to Roppongi entertainment and night life district. The image of the tower rising in between the new skyscrapers from Shiodome business district is very iconic and there are thousands of both Japanese and foreign tourists who visit the tower daily to take photos of the tower as well as check out the beautiful view from the top observation deck. Tokyo Tower is also very close to the Japanese heart and a source of pride which many Japanese share and not only because of the Godzilla destroying the tower in movies! When it was constructed, it was one of the tallest towers in Tokyo and could be seen from everywhere, and throughout the years it has become almost a pilgrimage spot which any Japanese who visit Tokyo would have to take a photo next to. Lets learn about the tower history, what are the attractions the tower offer, what are the interesting spots you can visit around the tower, and even some superstition and urban legends the tower develop throughout the years!
1. Lets explore Tokyo Tower history
The idea for the building of Tokyo Tower is closely related to the booming broadcasting industry of the early 1950’s in Japan. in those days, the broadcasting and telecommunication business was booming and quite a few tall transmission towers were built around Tokyo. Fearing that the city is soon going to look like a forest of metal towers, the city local government together with the Japanese government decided to build one massive tower that will serve all broadcasting companies and prevent the needs to build more and more towers everywhere. The reason why the Tokyo Tower was built like a monument more than a traditional transmission tower was because back in those days, Japan was just coming out from post World War economic hardships and started to look like a global economic powerhouse. Therefore, Tokyo Tower was built to become a symbol of economic success as well as function as a transmission and broadcasting tower.
The Japanese government chose Tachu Naito, who designed many of Japan tallest buildings, to design the tower. Inspired by the western world and Europe especially, Naito design the tower to look like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The design was also promising a sturdy frame that could stand earthquake, typhoons and even tsunami, as Japan is prone to those natural disasters. The tower was designed to reach 333 metres (1,092 ft) and was built from solid steel frame. The construction took a little over a year to build and in October 1958, the construction workers bolted the 90 meters broadcasting antenna at the top of the tower. While steel towers have since surpassed Tokyo Tower’s height, the tower was still the tallest artificial structure in Japan until April 2010, when the new Tokyo Skytree became the tallest building of Japan!
2. How to reach Tokyo Tower?
The Tokyo Tower is located on top of a hill on the edge of Shiba Park right next to Toranomon and Higashiazabu neighborhoods. It is easily accessed by 5 different trains and subway lines (See the info box at the bottom of this article for details) and is in walking distance from Roppongi, Azabujuban and even from Ginza, if you are willing to take a longer walk. The tower is easily visible from all directions and all you need is to look up and keep on walking toward the tower to reach the foot of the hill where the tower stands. I personally love the walk from Ginza or from Roppongi toward the tower. Although it takes about 30 minutes to walk to the tower, it also give you a chance to feel the surrounding environment built around the tower. As the city evolve in the neighborhood around Tokyo Tower, many of the buildings and apartment towers were designed to have a magnificent angle toward the tower. As you go along the neighborhoods, there are many sports where the tower suddenly pops out of nowhere and fill the space between buildings and as you get closer, there are so many amazing spots where the tower simply fill your whole sky view in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. I live in this city all my life and I still find new spots and new angles which compliment the tower so much that I can’t stop but taking picture. My best advice, instead of take the train to the nearest station, try the long way and see Tokyo Tower as Tokyo residents see it daily. It is well worth the effort!
3. What is Tokyo Tower FootTown?
When you reach Tokyo Tower you will notice that the base of the tower is actually a five story high building called Tokyo Tower FootTown. This building is full of attractions for both adults and kids. The rooftop of the building is kids playground allowing families to enjoy relaxed time while letting the kids run loose. The top 3 floors are where the One Piece Tower is located (we will get to that later in this article). The second floor of Foot Town is where all the restaurant and food chain stores are located. The food court includes Cafe di Espresso coffeeshop, Baskin Robbins ice cream shop, Satsuma soba restaurant, Tower’s Dinner Cafe, Restaurant & Bar, PIZZA-LA Express sliced pizza shop, and the Umeiya ramen shop.
The first entrance floor is also holding the Tokyo Tower Aquarium. This aquarium is holding all sort of fish tanks and marine environments glassed displays showcasing many fish, jellyfish, sea turtles and other marine life. It is a great place for kids and is a good place to start the day in.
4. What kind and where can I buy Tokyo Tower souvenirs?
The second floor of FootTown is the area where you can both enjoy refreshments and food as well as get all the souvenirs you wish for in two big shops called “TOKIO333” & “Tokyo Omiyage Town”. Omiyage means in Japanese “Souvenir” and you can find Omiyage stores in every train station or near any tourist site. In Tokyo Tower, the souvenir shops are massive and it feels like a shopping arcades more than a shops. Visitors can find in the shops nostalgic and classic Tokyo Tower memorabilia, as well as any imaginable Japanese product which is designed especially for Tokyo Tower souvenir shop. You can find Japanese fans, paper lantern, key chain, glass snow balls, stuffed animals and dolls, stickers, flags, posters, plastic masks, anime characters and figures, t-shrits, hats, Yukata (Japanese light kimono for summer or for home wear), Hello Kitty in Tokyo Tower merchandise, maneki-neko lucky cats figures, hand bags, lego sets, glow in the dark miniature sculptures, and many other things. It is simply a huge museum for “anything” with Tokyo Tower mark or style to it. Prices are also pretty fair, taking that it is not a regular shop but souvenir shop, and unless you get any of the very expensive items, most of the souvenirs will cost anywhere between ¥300 – ¥1,500 yen. Make sure you get to the shop at the end of the day and you don’t need to walk around with lots of shopping bag all day long!
5. What kind of observation decks are available?
Reaching 333 meters (1092 feet) up in the air, slightly higher than the Eiffel Tower, and located on top of quite steep hill, Tokyo Tower is rising above all the surrounding skyscrapers which makes it a perfect spot from which you can view Tokyo mega city all the way utill the horizon where the surrounding mountain range is enclosing the city, and right behind it, is the magnificent Fuji mountain. It is quite a view on a clear sunny day which can give you a new perspective on how large this city is and at the same time, how small it is in comparison with the massive mountain range around it. Unless it is mid-summer when Mount Fuji is clear of snow, you can also get inspired with how nature paint our environment with different colors. From the white snow cap of Mount Fuji, to the lush green forest covering the mountain range, to the green and yellow rice fields at the mountain range foot, and the multicolor of human development all the way to the center of the city which is a massive reflective skyscraper glass structure. If I would choose a time of the day to get a glimpse of it, I would recommend mid day at lunch or an hour before Sunset. Those are the two times when the view is most vibrant, and watching the sunset behind Mount Fuji in winter time is simply breathtaking!
Tokyo Tower offers two levels of observation decks. The first one is located 150 meters (490 feet) up and is called the “Main Observatory”. Looking out of that level you might still feel you are in the city. Although the view is beautiful, it’s still feel as if you are looking from a top of a high rise building. If you want to see the full view, get up to the “Special Observatory”, 100 meters (330 feet) higher to the elevation of 250 meters (820 feet) where you can experience the real deal! Remember that each observatory has its own ticket and if you want to try both, a multi level ticket is also available. (You can find the exact prices at the bottom of this article information box). The main reason you have to see the lower observatory as well is its glass floor window. Be sure not to miss that!
6. Tokyo One Piece Tower
Tokyo Tower FootTown top 3 floors is where you will find the Tokyo One Piece Tower, which is an amazing place for kids and adult to enjoy all sort of entertaining Japanese anime exhibitions! The three floors are designed as a theme park right out of One Piece popular animation series. The One Piece Tower is open from 10am to 10pm and cost ¥3,000 yen for adult and ¥1,500 for kids. The place hold special rooms introducing every character from the animations series in their own environment. Visitors can find Luffy’s Endless Adventure, Zoro’s Soul of Edge, Mami’s Casino House, Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tour, Franky’s Ball Run, Robin’s Finding Ponegliff and the very popular Brook’s Horror House. Each room is filled with images and life-size statues of all the anime characters, portraying their life stories and adventures. The second floor also offer a restaurant, designed to look exactly as one of Luffy’s favorite restaurants, “Sanii no Oresama” – and if you are in a mood for relaxing, you can find Cafe Mugiwara a beautiful place to sit and get some rest. For the kids, the second floor offers “Franky’s Cola Bar” where cold coke is been served! If you did not get enough of One Piece by now, get all the rest of your anime energy in the souvenir shop which offers specially designed One Piece merchandise. Overall it feels like a miniature Disneyland for Japanese anime. If you have kids or if you like Japanese manage and anime, this floor is a must!
7. The evening light up with different themes every night!
Since Tokyo Tower can be seen from many parts of town, it has also become a sort of an evening subtle light show symbolizing the time of the year, or special holidays. The tower has a built in colored light system which light up every evening and create a new atmosphere around it. In special holidays as in Valentine Day, the tower is lit up with pink colors, or in Christmas season the tower is lit up with red/green/blue colored lights. The tower changes its light show daily and making it look different to project different atmosphere around it every night. I personally love to see the tower lighting on cloudy days. On those days, the top of the tower disappear into the clouds and the tower creates a massive glow around it make it look as if it came out from a futuristic movie!
8. Is it really a love and relationship power spot?
There is an urban legend surrounding Tokyo Tower and no one knows if it is true or not but if you want to test your love with your partner, you should go and visit Tokyo Tower together. When visiting the tower, you will notice many young and older couples holding hands and taking photos with the tower as a background. Living here in Tokyo and hearing about it, I feel that there is a much deeper reason for couples to go there. It is a sort of a “love test” to young couples. If one of the couple partner want to know if the other really loves them, they can ask to go to visit Tokyo Tower together and take photos. If your partner want the relationship and care for it, they will agree to go and take photos at the tower. It is a sort of a subliminal approval of love! Add to that fact that this is as close as you can get to see the romantic Eiffel tower while in Tokyo and the lovely image start to get clear!
9. Explore Tokyo Tower aquarium
The first floor of Tokyo Tower FootTown is the place where you can get away from the urban city around you and get connected with nature in the very unique environment of Tokyo Tower Aquarium. It is one of the largest aquariums in Japan exhibiting over 50,000 fish and marine life of 900 different species. The main aquarium is a 500 square meter glass tank which display the fish within a very spacious 825 square meter room. Visitors of the aquarium can enjoy the beautiful varieties of shapes and colors of fish, sea turtles, squids and jellyfish while calm music is playing in the background. The aquarium showcase the beautiful and rare fish in different section and tanks. Salt water tropical fish are classified according to their original habitats in the North and South Americas sections, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Japan areas.
10. What can I find around Tokyo Tower area?
Tokyo Tower is located next to many famous landmarks, as well as shopping and business district, but if you want to see one more pan of Tokyo, there is a special place right around the corner from the tower. As you leave the tower, go downhill and walk toward Shiba Park. When you reach the park keep on going straight until you reach the end of the street. Turn right and after about 200 meters take a look to your right! Right through the Sangedatsu Gate you will see the beautiful view of Zojo-ji Temple unveil itself with Tokyo Tower as a background. This temple is the main Tokugawa Family who ruled Japan for hundred of years are buried in. The temple itself is a beautiful example of Edo (former Tokyo) style of lavish Bushiest temples. After a long day in Tokyo Tower, you can now enjoy the Zen serenity of Zojo-ji temple, and even try a party and a wish at one of the most powerful spiritual spots in central Tokyo!
- Name: Tokyo Tower
- Address: 4-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011
Main Observatory ¥900/Adult ¥500/Children ¥400/Under 4 years old
Main Observatory ¥700/Adult ¥500/Children ¥400/Under 4 years old
Both Observatories ¥1,600/Adult ¥1,000/Children ¥800/Under 4 years old
Take the Toei Oedo Line and get off at Akabanebashi Station and from there it is 5 minutes walk
Take the Mita Subway Line and get off at Onarimon Station and from there it is 6 minutes walk
Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and get off at Kamiyacho Station and from there it is 7 minutes walk
Take the Asakusa Subway Line and get off at Daimon Station and from there it is 10 minutes walk
- Opening hour:
Main Observatory (150m) 9am – 11pm (Last admission 10:30pm)
Special Observatory (250m) 9am – 11pm (Last admission 10:30pm)
- Website: http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/eng
Have a good trip and travel!