The view from the Tokyo Skytree, one of the tallest structures on Earth
The top viewing platform of the Tokyo Skytree one of the highest in the world. The biggest city in the world looks absolutely spectacular from above.
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
The Tokyo Skytree is amazingly tall. It's the tallest tower in the world, and only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is a taller structure (for now). It stretches 2,080 feet (634 meters) above Tokyo. Ostensibly a TV broadcasting tower, it has restaurants and observation decks that offer tremendous views of the incredible Tokyo skyline.
Constructed between 2008 and 2012, the concrete-and-steel tower's lattice design plays tricks on the eyes. It doesn't look quite...consistent. And indeed it isn't. The base flares out with points like a pyramid, but as it gains height, the edges round out to be cylindrical near the top.
Around the base is an entire shopping plaza with a surprisingly tasty food court.
When you finally make your way to the entrance, two ticket options present themselves. The base cost for tickets, as of this writing, is 2,060 yen (around $20 US, or £13/AU$26). Depending on the time of day, the line might be quite long just to buy the tickets, and then there's potentially another line to get on the elevators.
The view from the Tokyo Skytree, one of the tallest structures on Earth (pictures)
Or, for 2,820 yen you get to head to the "VIP" line that's always shorter. I did the latter on my first visit, as the main line was over 30 minutes, and at the time I still wasn't too solid on my mending leg. When I returned for the night photos you'll see in the gallery, there was no line at all, so I got the cheaper ticket.
The elevators are fast and nearly silent, disgorging you onto floor "350." This is a bit cheeky, since clearly there aren't 350 floors. This is just description of its height. Since there are only 29 actual floors total, I guess "Floor 27" or whatever this would be doesn't sound nearly as impressive.
The elevators are Japan's fastest, covering the 1,000-plus-foot distance in about 50 seconds. That's about 22.5 mph or "36.3 kph" in the local parlance.
The main floor is a spacious area, with a snack bar and 360-degree views of the city. LCD screens point out landmarks. With a bit of leaning, you can almost see straight down.
On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji. Neither of my visits were that clear. But even so, the view was incredible.
For an extra 1,030 yen, you can take a separate elevator up to the "450th" floor. That extra 328 feet/100m is definitely noticeable.
The floor is much smaller, with a glass-lined walkway that curves along the outside, bringing you around and up to the actual 450m point.
I'll be honest, though, it's not worth the extra yen. The windows are smaller, and they're farther from you, making the view less impressive and photos harder. I enjoyed the 350m floor far more, even though it was lower.
Right before you get to the elevators that will return you to the surface, there's a glass floor where you can stare past your feet to the long drop to Earth. For some reason, lots of people like jumping on the plexiglass. I don't get it.
I recommend going an hour or so before sunset, and sticking around to watch the lights of the city come on. Tokyo during the day is amazing. Tokyo at night is incredible.
You can reserve tickets if you want (though it's more expensive -- I just walked in both times). It's open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. If you want to see some of the most amazing views anywhere in the world, it's definitely worth a visit.