It's no wonder cities around the world see the appeal of soaring observation decks. They give visitors an unparalleled perspective of the environment below while instantly becoming revenue-rich tourist attractions. The CN Tower in Toronto perfected the experience by including two observation platforms in its design, one of which was perched 447 metres above the ground, the highest such viewing area in the world. It was also the world's tallest freestanding structure until the engineering marvel was dethroned in 2007 by the current record holder, Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
The Canadian icon paved the way for the observation towers of today, which climb to unprecedented heights and incorporate the latest technologies to give visitors a truly memorable adventure. The Tokyo Skytree is Japan's answer to the CN Tower, and its 634-metre height is high enough to rank it the second tallest structure in the world.
The Skytree displaced Guangzhou's Canton Tower to become the world's tallest tower in 2011. The structure serves as the primary radio and television broadcast site for the Kantō region, as the Eiffel Tower-inspired Tokyo Tower, built in 1958 and now surrounded by tall highrise buildings, no longer emits complete digital terrestrial television broadcasting coverage. The Tokyo Skytree is the focal point of a commercial project developed by Tobu Railway and features a Neo-Futuristic design by local architecture practice Nikken Sekkei.
Rising from a tripod base, the tower's profile becomes cylindrical to offer uninhibited panoramic views of the city. Observation decks at 350 and 450 metres provide spectacular vistas of the world's most populous metropolitan area. The lower deck spans three levels and comprises a souvenir shop, restaurant, cafe, and glass floor. The upper deck — just four metres taller than the CN Tower's SkyPod — includes a sloping spiral skywalk in a space dubbed the Tembo Gallery. The two viewing areas proved to be immensely popular upon their 2012 opening. Tobu claims the first week attracted a staggering 1.6 million people.
The concrete jungle of Tokyo is composed of hundreds of building blocks, many of which are fairly nondescript apartment towers. An overwhelming mass of grey plasters the landscape, but numerous defining landmarks can be spotted from the structure. The 23 special wards that together make up the core of Tokyo can each be seen, including Arakawa in the northeastern part of the city. Bridges span the Arakawa River as it leads to the highrises of the Greater Tokyo city of Kawaguchi.
Looking to the north yields views of the Sumida River as the Arakawa River enters the frame of the image above from the right. The Skytree's spire and two observation decks can be seen casting a long shadow on the dense Sumida ward. To the west, one of Tokyo's most recognizable modern landmarks becomes visible on the banks of the Sumida. The Asahi Breweries complex includes the Phillippe Starck-designed Asahi Beer Hall, which was completed in 1989. Resembling a beer glass, the building is notable for its golden flame-shaped crown, which is said to represent the 'burning heart of Asahi beer' as well as its frothy foam. The large white object in the centre-left of the image below is the Tokyo Dome. Nicknamed "The Big Egg" for its flexible membrane roof, the 1988-built stadium can hold up to 55,000 people and is the current home of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team.
On the eastern side of the Sumida River, the elevated structure housing the Edo-Tokyo Museum separates itself from its surroundings. It was established in 1993 and features scale models of historic Japanese towns and buildings. The museum stands adjacent to the Ryougoku Sumo Hall, which is clearly identified by its green pyramidal rooftop. To the southwest, the densest parts of Tokyo display their full scale. The needle-like Tokyo Tower, the second tallest structure in Japan, forms the highest peak in the image below. Reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower — but painted white and international orange to meet air safety standards — the latticed communications and observation tower is 332.9 metres tall. The popular tourist attraction is located in the Minato ward, which boasts a large number of international embassies and headquarters for domestic companies.
Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative hub, housing some of the tallest skyscrapers in the country, the busiest railway station in the world, and Tokyo's 48-storey city hall. Looming over the skyline is Japan's highest mountain peak, the 3,776.24-metre Mount Fuji. The snow-capped volcano features a nearly perfect symmetrical cone that is evident from most elevated perspectives.
The Tokyo Skytree has become a must-see attraction in Japan's largest city. Viewing the enormous, seemingly never-ending skyline of the Asian metropolis from heights that were previously unimaginable is a truly mesmerizing and enlightening experience. It's one of the only ways to fully admire Tokyo's impressive built and natural landscapes, which continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
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