Skytree is set to open Tuesday


Tokyo Skytree, at 634 meters the world’s tallest broadcasting tower, is set to open to the public Tuesday.

Tobu Railway Co., the parent company of the operator Tobu Tower Skytree Co., expects about 200,000 visitors to flock to Tokyo Skytree Town on the first day alone to check out the newly completed 37,000-sq.-meter commercial complex in Sumida Ward.

The main attractions of the needlelike tower, topped by a communications mast, are two observation decks at 350 meters and 450 meters above ground level.

The chances of winning a ticket to use the lower observation deck at noon, the most popular time, on opening day were 1-in-335, Tobu Tower said.

With expectations of huge crowds, the company is only allowing those with advance reservations to enter until July 10. It will sell about 6,000 tickets a day online and sell 2,000 at 44 Tobu Travel Co. outlets in 18 prefectures across the nation.

The first deck can accommodate up to 2,000 people, and the second up to 900.

Tokyo Skytree was completed on Feb. 29 after about 3½ years of construction. The capital’s new landmark surpasses 600-meter-high Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China.

Although it was initially planned to be 610 meters high, Tobu Tower Skytree decided to extend it to 634 meters after being informed that Guangzhou tower was going to be the same height.

The company wanted the tower to be 634 meters partly because the numbers in Japanese are pronounced “mu-sa-shi,” which plays on the fact that Tokyo and most of Saitama Prefecture were once widely referred to as Musashi Province.

Many state-of-the-art technologies were used in Skytree’s construction, including those to enhance earthquake resistance and to hoist completed sections to their designated places. There were also some challenging welding jobs performed by around 60 of the most experienced workers at Obayashi Corp.

Skytree provides digital terrestrial TV broadcasting services in and around Tokyo.

NHK and the five major commercial broadcasters have signed contracts with Tobu Railway to use the new tower. The city’s original tower landmark, Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward, built in 1958 and 333 meters high, will remain a tourist attraction.

Tokyo Skytree Town consists of a 312-tenant shopping and restaurant zone called “Tokyo Solamachi,” an office building zone, an aquarium and a planetarium.

Japan hopes that Skytree will attract not only domestic visitors but also foreign tourists whose numbers plummeted in the aftermath of last year’s megaquake and devastating tsunami which hit parts of the Tohoku region.

Last November, Guinness World Records recognized Tokyo Skytree as the world’s tallest tower. Dubai’s 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world, according to Guinness.

Lady Gaga was one of the first people to visit the Skytree observation deck ahead of Tuesday’s grand opening. The pop icon was here earlier this month on her world tour.