The hottest ticket in Tokyo right now is its newest attraction, and the world’s tallest tower: the Tokyo SkyTree.
Intended to be the new location from which major television stations will broadcast their television signals over the air (switched from Tokyo Tower), the Tokyo SkyTree was built in a total of four years. Construction started in 2008 (go figure, the last time I was in Japan). Three years later, it would become the world’s tallest freestanding tower at a staggering height of 2,080 feet (634 meters).
Tokyo SkyTree opened to the public on May 22, but a reservation system was in place for people to visit it. Now, millions of people have already visited the SkyTree, making it a must see destination for your next Japan vacation.
The Tokyo SkyTree is located in the Sumida Ward of Tokyo, near the Asakusa area where you can find the popular Senso-ji buddhist temple. The closest station to the SkyTree is, appropriately, Tokyo SkyTree station. It is just one station away from Asakusa station on the private Tobu railway. The fare is just 140 yen, a fare easily paid with a prepaid PASMO or Suica card. The alternative station to access the SkyTree is Oshiage station, a station on the Asakusa and Hanzomon subway lines. You could step off of the plane at either Narita or Haneda airport and potentially take a direct train to Oshiage if you wanted to.
The easiest way for foreigners to access the Tokyo SkyTree’s observation decks is with a same-day ticket. The tower is open from 8 AM to 10 PM every day. Admission costs 2,000 yen for adults to the first observation deck, and 3,000 yen for adults to the first and second observation decks. If you purchase tickets for a specific time, a 500 yen surcharge is added.
More details about the Tokyo SkyTree can be found here: http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/
It’ll be quite a view of Tokyo from the country’s newest tourist jewel. It will be on my list of places on my next Tokyo visit. But then again, with the strength of the yen it’ll be quite a dent in your wallet (USD $25 for the first deck, as of Aug 9 2012). So if you really want to save your money when viewing observation decks in Tokyo, there are a few alternatives.
TOKYO TOWER: The old standby offers cheaper access to their observation decks: 820 yen to the main observatory and 1,420 yen to both observatories. http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/english/
MORI TOWER AT ROPPONGI HILLS: This busines tower offers an observatory on its top decks: 1,500 yen to the observatory and an additional 300 yen to the open-air sky deck, which is open weather-permitting. http://www.roppongihills.com/tcv/en/
TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS: West of Shinjuku Station, one or both of the two government building towers is open to the public on a daily basis. What’s more: It’s FREE. http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/TMG/observat.htm
Enjoy the view of Tokyo from up high!