Tokyo Skytree proves boon for Hato Bus tours

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Thanks mainly to the opening of Tokyo Skytree in May last year, the number of people who took Hato Bus Co. sightseeing tours of Tokyo in fiscal 2012 rose to 914,004, the company announced. It’s the first time the number has exceeded 900,000 in 20 years.

Preliminary figures released by the Tokyo-based tour bus operator showed an increase of 213,081, or about 1.3 times, from the 700,923 in fiscal 2011. Some of the one-day sightseeing tours Tokyo Hato offers are conducted in English and Chinese.

“Tokyo Skytree had a big impact on the rise in the numbers,” Kaai Aida, a spokeswoman for the company, said Wednesday. “Particularly night tours, including dinner and admission to the tower’s observatory, are quite popular,” she noted.

Nearly 264,000 people, or 28.8 percent of all participants, took tours featuring admission to the 350-meter-high observatory at the 634-meter tower in Sumida Ward, according to the company.

Nearly 50,000 people took tours in English or Chinese, up 1.41-fold from the 34,900 in the previous fiscal year, the figures showed.

About 41,000 took the English tours, and around 8,000 the Chinese tours, according to Aida, who cited the cheap yen as a possible reason for the increase.

A breakdown by nationality was not available.

Hato Bus’ fiscal year runs from July to June.