Tokyo’s Minato Ward is taking steps to ensure that high-rises do not obliterate the few remaining views of the much-loved Tokyo Tower.
The Minato Ward Office has drawn up detailed regulations to protect five vistas in which the 333-meter tower can be seen in its entirety, as part of moves to update the ward’s zoning policy.
The new rules, to go into effect in April, will protect five “vantage points” from which the tower can be seen in its entirety.
They are located a few hundred meters east of the tower, and include a spot near the bell tower on the Zojoji Temple premises. Another is the center of Shiba Park.
The ward has designated an area of a little more than 1 sq. kilometer around the tower as a zone where special building restrictions apply.
From April, people building new structures or renovating existing ones will have to report their plans to the ward if the height exceeds 15 meters in residential areas or 25 meters elsewhere. Currently buildings up to 31 meters do not require scrutiny.
Builders in the designated zone will also have to make sure that the new structures do not block the “symbolic view” of the tower and its skyline. The colors of buildings constructed near the tower should be neither too vivid nor too dark, the ward officials said.
The landscape planning is stipulated in the ward’s ordinance, and the ward office can order revisions if construction plans are found to be in violation of the new policy.
Toru Sakamoto, director of the urban planning section at the Minato Ward Office, said officials began discussing how to protect views of the tower after it was added to the nation’s list of Registered Tangible Cultural Properties in 2013. The officials also consulted with a panel of academics and residents before coming up with the new policy in December, he said.
Sakamoto acknowledged that the ward’s move is an attempt to preserve what is left of the scenic landscape in it; in fact, the officials could not find any location west of the tower where the structure, built in 1958 to emulate the Eiffel Tower in Paris, can be observed in its entirety.
“Minato Ward is trying hard to protect its landscape, meaning one that includes the Tokyo Tower,” Sakamoto said. “We want people to understand and cooperate with the policy.”