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Perhaps because we are upright, vertical animals, towers have always held a special fascination for us. The artist Taro Okamoto expressed this attraction in anthropomorphic terms when he designed the centerpiece of the 1970 Osaka Expo, the 70-meter-tall “Tower of the Sun” with its three faces, including a golden one at the top.

Inspired by the forthcoming opening of the 634-meter-tall Tokyo Sky Tree on May 22, an exhibition has been underway at the Tokyo-Edo Museum that looks at our love affair with elevated architecture. “The Tower: The Story of Cities and Towers” uses a wide selection of materials, from baroque etchings and ukiyo-e woodblock prints to posters, plans and photographs to show that the “higher is better” concept has long been with us. Meanwhile, in the museum’s permanent exhibition, the original face from Okamoto’s great art work, measuring 11 meters across, is on display.

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