Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリ) is located in Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Originally conceived as "New Tokyo Tower " (新東京タワ), it is a broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower with a maximum height of 634 metres. That height was chosen to reflect the word musashi, the name of the former province of Musashi (武蔵) that included parts of the modern-day Tokyo, Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures: 6 (六 mu), 3 (三 sa), 4 (四 shi).

Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリ

Aerial view of Tokyo Skytree

Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan, the world's tallest free-standing tower (officially recognised by Guinness World Records on 17 November 2011), and the third-tallest construction after the Merdeka 118 (678.9 metres) and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (at 830 metres). Construction started in July 2008 and was completed in February 2012; the grand opening occurred on 22 May 2012.

The project was financed by a consortium of Tobu Railway, the national network NHK and five other terrestrial broadcasters. It is designed by Nikken Sekkai and built by the contractor Obayashi Corp., with estimated construction costs amounting to 40 billion JPY.

The site includes an eastern and western shopping mall covering 36,900 square metres. Skytree's structural system is made of reinforced concrete, steel-reinforced concrete and steel structures; the massive foundation system comprises cast-in-situ piles, reaching down 35 metres below ground, and in-ground continuous wall piles in nodes made of steel-reinforced concrete, going down 50 metres. To reduce vibrations in case of earthquakes, etc., Nissen Sekkei employed a Center Column Vibration Control system (柱制振システム, shimbashira-seishin) that are modelled on a five-story pagoda. According to Nissen Sekkei, this control system will reduce the response shear force by 40 per cent during an earthquake.

Hirotake Takanishi, PR manager for Tobu Tower Skytree, maintains that the anti-quake measures could reduce quake vibrations by 50 per cent. Simulations had proved that the Sky Tree would withstand an 8.0-magnitude earthquake and could withstand even stronger ones, but it couldn't be said what its upper limit was. The shimbashira (central column) is made of reinforced concrete that is structurally separate from the exterior steel truss. It acts as a counterweight when the tower sways. Engineers are confident because five-storied pagodas with shimbashira columns have never been toppled by earthquakes in Japan. Another essential design element is that the tower will gradually change in cross-section from triangular at the base to round at the 300-metre point, which will help it to withstand strong winds better.

Even before its grand opening, Tokyo Skytree has already become a significant tourist attraction, and the formerly tranquil shitamachi neighbourhood of Azumabashi will undoubtedly benefit from the new infrastructure and the expected stream of visitors. A ride to the first observation deck (at 350 metres) will set an adult back 2,000 JPY, and to the second deck at 450 metres, 3,000 JPY.


Oshiage 1-chome, Sumida-Ward, Tokyo 131-0045 – 〒131-0045 東京都墨田区押上一丁目, halfway between Tokyo Skytree Station (formerly Narihirabashi Station) on Tobu Isesaki Line and Oshiage Station (Asakusa Line).




Tokyo Skytree as seen from Asakusa Bridge, December 2011


Miyabi lighting design


The observation platform at 350 meters.


Tokyo Skytree hidden in the clouds (around 400 metres) - as seen from the Arakawa, July 2010


Center Column Vibration Control (柱制振システム) by Nikken Sekkai.


Tokyo Skytree seen from Takeshiba Pier, September 2011,


Tobu 100 Spacia in front of Tokyo Skytree, March 2011 (Photo: Tobu Corp.)