“Making of Tokyo Sky Tree®”

by Mike Hamilton

Staff Writer

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), Special Exhibition
Closes Oct. 2

Tokyo Sky Tree has piqued the interest of the public, particularly those in the Asakusa area, where the giant construction has stopped many a passerby to stare, take photos and chart its progress.

Perhaps the nation’s curiosity about the tower, which opens in May 2012, can now being satiated by the Miraikan through their new special exhibit.

“Making of Tokyo Sky Tree®” offers a detailed tour that explores, in chronological order, the historical significance of the Asakusa area, the initial design process of the tower and an explanation of the difficult construction techniques used. It soon becomes clear that the task assigned to the designers — to provide Tokyo with a “cityscape that went beyond time and space” — was far from easy to realize.

The Sky Tree is also a TV tower that will digitally broadcast from a height of 634 meters, way above the clutter of high-rise buildings that surround it. Its 53-year-old predecessor, Tokyo Tower, which stands at half the new tower’s height, is already encircled by lofty skyscrapers that can cause broadcasting interference. But to create a new tower of such height in time for Japan’s full switch to digital broadcasting, designs had to take into consideration the confined space and the nation’s susceptibility to large seismic shifts and violent typhoons. As one of the world’s tallest towers, the design process was complicated and included conceptual ideas as well as more conventional ways of overcoming these concerns. After much research and planning, Kiichi Sumikawa’s spiraling design was decided upon — this exhibition explains why.

For visitors, the “Job Site Set!” section provides the most interaction. Here you can step into a crane booth atop a reconstruction of the tower’s tip and take in a 180-degree 3D rendition of what the view will be like. The final piece of the exhibition features a proportionately scaled Lego model of the tower, partly constructed by Kazuyoshi Naoe, Asia’s only official Lego-model builder.

Those skeptical of the gray towering lattice that is about to become Tokyo’s worldwide icon may well find their minds changed by this exhibition, or it may at least elicit some admiration for the skill that went into its design.

The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Tue.; admission ¥1,300 with entry to the rest of the museum. For more information, visit www.miraikan.jst.go.jp.