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Tokyo Tower

This article is about the communications and observation tower. For other uses, see Tokyo Tower (disambiguation).
Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower as seen from the street by evening in February 2014
General information
Status Complete
Type Communications tower
Observation tower
Location 4-2-8 Shiba-koen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011
Town or city
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35°39′31″N 139°44′44″E / 35.65861°N 139.74556°E / 35.65861; 139.74556Coordinates: 35°39′31″N 139°44′44″E / 35.65861°N 139.74556°E / 35.65861; 139.74556{{#coordinates:35|39|31|N|139|44|44|E|type:landmark_region:JP |primary |name=

Construction started June 1957
Completed 1958
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Cost ¥2.8 billion
(US$8.4 million in 1958)
Owner Nihon Denpatō
(Nippon Television City Corp.)
Architectural Script error: No such module "convert".
Antenna spire Script error: No such module "convert".[1]
Top floor Script error: No such module "convert".
Observatory Script error: No such module "convert".
Technical details
Floor count 16
Lifts/elevators 4
Design and construction
Architect Tachū Naitō[2]
Structural engineer Nikken Sekkei Ltd.[3]
Main contractor Takenaka Corporation[2]
Number of rooms
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Number of suites
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Tokyo Tower (東京タワー Tōkyō tawā?) is a communications and observation tower located in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. At Script error: No such module "convert"., it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.

Built in 1958, the tower's main sources of revenue are tourism and antenna leasing. Over 150 million people have visited the tower since its opening. FootTown, a four-story building located directly under the tower, houses museums, restaurants and shops. Departing from there, guests can visit two observation decks. The two-story Main Observatory is located at Script error: No such module "convert"., while the smaller Special Observatory reaches a height of Script error: No such module "convert"..

The tower acts as a support structure for an antenna. Originally intended for television broadcasting, radio antennas were installed in 1961, but the tower is now used to broadcast signals for Japanese media outlets such as NHK, TBS and Fuji TV. Japan's planned digital television transition by July 2011 was problematic, however; Tokyo Tower's height, Script error: No such module "convert". was not high enough to adequately support complete terrestrial digital broadcasting to the area. A taller digital broadcasting tower, known as Tokyo Skytree, was completed on February 29, 2012.


A large broadcasting tower was needed in the Kantō region after NHK, Japan's public broadcasting station, began television broadcasting in 1953. Private broadcasting companies began operating in the months following the construction of NHK's own transmission tower. This communications boom led the Japanese government to believe that transmission towers would soon be built all over Tokyo, eventually overrunning the city. The proposed solution was the construction of one large tower capable of transmitting to the entire region.[4] Furthermore, because of the country's postwar boom in the 1950s, Japan was searching for a monument to symbolize its ascendancy as a global economic powerhouse.[5][6]

File:Tokyo tower construction.jpg
Construction underway on February 25, 1958

Hisakichi Maeda, founder and president of Nippon Denpatō, the tower's owner and operator, originally planned for the tower to be taller than the Empire State Building, which at 381 meters was the highest structure in the world. However, the plan fell through because of the lack of both funds and materials. The tower's height was eventually determined by the distance the TV stations needed to transmit throughout the Kantō region, a distance of about Script error: No such module "convert".. Tachū Naitō, renowned designer of tall buildings in Japan, was chosen to design the newly proposed tower.[4] Looking to the Western world for inspiration, Naitō based his design on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.[7] With the help of engineering company Nikken Sekkei Ltd., Naitō claimed his design could withstand earthquakes with twice the intensity of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake or typhoons with wind speeds of up to Script error: No such module "convert"..[4]

The new construction project attracted hundreds of tobi, traditional Japanese construction workers who specialized in the construction of high-rise structures. The Takenaka Corporation broke ground in June 1957 and each day at least 400 laborers worked on the tower.[4] It was constructed of steel, a third of which was scrap metal taken from US tanks damaged in the Korean War.[8][9] When the 90-metre antenna was bolted into place on October 14, 1958, Tokyo Tower was the tallest freestanding tower in the world, taking the title from the Eiffel Tower by 13 metres.[4] Despite being taller than the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower only weighs about 4,000 tons, 3,300 tons less than the Eiffel Tower.[10] While other towers have since surpassed Tokyo Tower's height, the structure was still the tallest artificial structure in Japan until April 2010, when the new Tokyo Skytree became the tallest building of Japan.[7] It was opened to the public on December 23, 1958 at a final cost of ¥2.8 billion ($8.4 million in 1958).[9][11] Tokyo Tower was mortgaged for ¥10 billion in 2000.[12]

Planned as an antenna for telecommunications and brightly colored in accordance with the time's Aviation Law, the tower's two panoramic observatories are mostly frequented by tourists today; the tower constitutes a clear reference point in the center's chaotic skyline, forming a strong landmark, both night and day.[13]


Every 5 years the tower is repainted in a process that takes about 12 months.[14][15]


File:Tokyo Tower look down window.JPG
Looking down from the glass-flooring at the Tokyo Tower
File:Special observatory.jpg
The Special Observatory located directly below the tower's digital television broadcasting equipment

Tokyo Tower's two main revenue sources are antenna leasing and tourism. It functions as a radio and television broadcasting antenna support structure and is a tourist destination that houses several different attractions. Over 150 million people have visited the tower in total since its opening in late 1958.[6] Tower attendance had been steadily declining until it bottomed out at 2.3 million in 2000.[16] Since then, attendance has been rising, and it has recently been attracting approximately 3 million visitors per year.[6] The first area tourists must visit upon reaching the tower is FootTown, a four-story building stationed directly under the tower. Here, visitors can eat, shop and visit several museums and galleries. Elevators that depart from the first floor of FootTown can be used to reach the first of two observation decks, the two-story Main Observatory.[17] For the price of another ticket, visitors can board another set of elevators from the second floor of the Main Observatory to reach the final observation deck—the Special Observatory.[18]


Tokyo Tower, a member of the World Federation of Great Towers, is utilized by many organizations for various broadcasting purposes. The structure was originally intended for broadcasting television, but radio antennas were installed in 1961 because it could accommodate them.[6] The tower now broadcasts analog television, digital television, radio and digital radio. Stations that use the tower's antenna include:[10]

Japan currently employs both analog and digital broadcasting, but by July 2011 all television broadcasting is to be digital.[needs update] Tokyo Tower is not a reliable broadcasting antenna for completely digital broadcasting because the tower is not tall enough to transmit the higher frequency waves needed to areas surrounded by forests or high-rise buildings. As an alternative, a new 634-metre-tall (2,080 ft) tower called the Tokyo Skytree was opened in 2012.[6] To make Tokyo Tower more appealing to NHK and five other commercial broadcasters who plan to move their transmitting stations to the new tower, Nihon Denpatō officials drafted a plan to extend its digital broadcasting antenna by 80 to 100 metres at a cost of approximately ¥4 billion (US$50 million).[19] Because these plans have not been realized, Tokyo Tower is expected to stop transmitting digital TV radio waves with the exception of Open University of Japan, who will continue to broadcast through the tower. FM radio stations will also continue to utilize the tower for broadcasting in the Tokyo area. Masahiro Kawada, the tower's planning director, also pointed out the possibility of the tower becoming a backup for the Tokyo Skytree, depending on what the TV broadcasters want or need.[6][20]

The tip of the antenna was damaged on March 11, 2011 as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake.[21] On July 19, 2012, the Tokyo Tower's height shrank to 315 meters while the top antenna was repaired for damage sustained during the earthquake.[1]


The base of Tokyo Tower with the FootTown building located underneath


Located in the base of the tower is a 4-story building known as FootTown. The first floor includes the Aquarium Gallery, a reception hall, the 400-person-capacity "Tower Restaurant," a FamilyMart convenience store and a souvenir shop.[22][23] This floor's main attractions, however, are the three elevators that serve as a direct ride to the Main Observatory.[17] The second floor is primarily a food and shopping area. In addition to the five standalone restaurants, the second floor's food court consists of four restaurants, including a McDonald's and a Pizza-La.[24][25]

File:Tokyo Tower shinto shrine.jpg
A Shinto shrine is located on the second floor of the Main Observatory.

FootTown's third and fourth floors house several tourist attractions. The third floor is home to the Guinness World Records Museum Tokyo, a museum that houses life-size figures, photo panels and memorabilia depicting interesting records that have been authenticated by the Guinness Book.[26] The Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, opened in 1970, displays wax figures imported from London where they were made.[27] The figures on display range from pop culture icons such as The Beatles to religious figures such as Jesus Christ. A hologram gallery named the Gallery DeLux, a lounge and a few specialty stores are also located on this floor.[28] Tokyo Tower's Trick Art Gallery is located on the building's fourth and final floor. This gallery displays optical illusions, including paintings and objects that visitors can interact with.[29]

On the roof of the FootTown building is a small amusement park that contains several small rides and hosts live performances for children.[30] On weekends and holidays, visitors can use the roof to access the tower's outside stairwell. At approximately 660 steps, the stairwell is an alternative to the tower's elevators and leads directly to the Main Observatory.[31]


File:Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Sky Tree 2011 January.jpg
Tokyo Tower in January 2011 with the Tokyo Skytree under construction behind.

Tokyo Tower requires a total of Script error: No such module "convert". of paint to completely paint the structure white and international orange, complying with air safety regulations.[10] Before the tower's 30th anniversary in 1987, the only lighting on the tower were light bulbs located on the corner contours that extended from the base to the antenna. In the spring of 1987, Nihon Denpatō invited lighting designer Motoko Ishii to visit the tower. Since its opening 30 years earlier, the tower's annual ticket sales had dropped significantly, and in a bid to revitalize the tower and again establish it as an important tourist attraction and symbol of Tokyo, Ishii was hired to redesign Tokyo Tower's lighting arrangement.[32]

Unveiled in 1989, the new lighting arrangement required the removal of the contour-outlining light bulbs and the installation of 176 floodlights in and around the tower's frame.[32] From dusk to midnight, the floodlights illuminate the entire tower.[10] Sodium vapor lamps are used from October 2 to July 6 to cover the tower in an orange color. From July 7 to October 1, the lights are changed to metal halide lamps to illuminate the tower with a white color. The reasoning behind the change is a seasonal one. Ishii reasoned that orange is a warmer color and helps to offset the cold winter months. Conversely, white is thought a cool color that helps during the hot summer months.[33]

Occasionally, Tokyo Tower's lighting is changed to specific, unique arrangements for special events. The tower is specially lit for some annual events. Since 2000, the entire tower has been illuminated in a pink light on October 1 to highlight the beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The tower has also had a variety of special lighting arrangements for Christmas since 1994. During New Year's Eve, the tower lights up at midnight with a year number displayed on one side of the observatory to mark the arrival of the new year. Special Japanese events have also been cause to light the tower in several nontraditional ways. In 2002, alternating sections of the tower were lit blue to help celebrate the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Japan. Alternating sections of the tower were lit green on Saint Patrick's Day in 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japanese-Irish relations. On a few occasions, Tokyo Tower has even been specially lit to correspond with corporate events. For example, the top half of the tower was lit green to correspond with the Japanese premiere of The Matrix Reloaded and different sections of the tower were lit red, white and black to commemorate the first day of sales of Coca-Cola C2.[33] The tower was also uniquely lit for the new millennium in 2000 with Motoko Ishii again reprising her role as the designer.[34] In December 2008, Nihon Denpatō spent $6.5 million to create a new nighttime illumination scheme—titled the "Diamond Veil"—to celebrate the tower's 50th anniversary. The arrangement featured 276 lights in seven colors equally distributed across the towers four faces.[9]

When employing specialty lighting on the tower, the Main Observatory often plays an important role. During the second international "White Band Day" on September 10, 2005, the tower was completely unlit except for the Main Observatory, which was lit with a bright white light. The resulting white ring represented the White Band referenced in the day's name. The two floors of windows that make up the exterior of the Main Observatory are utilized to display words or numbers. When the tower employed unique lighting to commemorate terrestrial digital broadcasting first being available in the Kantō region on December 1, 2005, each side of the Main Observatory displayed the characters 地デジ (chi deji, an abbreviation for 地上デジタル放送 chijō dejitaru hōsō terrestrial digital broadcasting).[33] More recently, the observatory displayed both "TOKYO" and "2016" to stress Tokyo's 2016 Olympic bid.[35] Primitive images, such as hearts, have also been displayed using the observatory's windows.[33]


File:Noppon-Tokyo Tower.jpg
"Younger Brother"

The Tokyo Tower has two mascots named Noppon. They are two brothers: Older Brother, who wears blue dungarees, and Younger Brother, who wears red dungarees. They were "born" on December 23, 1998 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo Tower.[36]

In popular culture

Just as the Eiffel Tower is often used in popular culture to immediately locate a scene in Paris, France, the Tokyo Tower is often used in the same way for Tokyo. It is used in anime and manga such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Please Save My Earth, Cardcaptor Sakura, Digimon, Sailor Moon, and Death Note.[37] The tower is also frequently used in the Japanese kaiju (giant monster) film genre. It has been the location of the climactic battles between Godzilla, Mothra and King Kong (King Kong Escapes) wherein it is frequently destroyed and rebuilt.[11][38] Based on the popular manga series by Ryōhei Saigan, the 2005 film Always Sanchōme no Yūhi was a nostalgic view of life in the neighbourhoods under the construction of the Tokyo Tower.

The Japanese culture and lifestyle television show Begin Japanology aired on NHK World featured a full episode on Tokyo Tower in 2008.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Tokyo Tower gets shorter for the 1st time". Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Tokyo Tower". Emporis. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Structural Engineering". Nikken Sekkei. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gilhooly, Rob (March 17, 2002). "The tower and the story". The Japan Times. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ Bruan, Stuart. "Big in Japan:Tokyo Tower". Metropolis. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Ito, Masami (December 30, 2008). "Half century on, Tokyo Tower still dazzles as landmark". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  7. ^ a b "Tokyo Tower 東京タワー". SkyscraperPage. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  8. ^ 鉄の豆知識 (in Japanese). Otani Steel Corporation. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  9. ^ a b c Fackler, Martin (December 30, 2008). "Tokyo Tower goes from futuristic hope to symbol of the good old days". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Tokyo Tower Data". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  11. ^ a b "Tokyo Tower vs. Super Tower: Crossed Signals?" (PDF). Colliers International. October 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  12. ^ Alex Vega (July 7, 2006). "The Small Print". Metropolis. Archived from the original on February 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  13. ^ Sacchi, Livio (2004). Tokyo City and Architecture. Skira Editore S.p.A. p. 58. ISBN 88-8491-990-8.
  14. ^ "5年に1回のお化粧直し。" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Tokyo Tower". Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ Sato, Shigemi (December 23, 2008). "Tokyo Tower turns 50 with big party". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  17. ^ a b "Foot Town 1F". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  18. ^ "View from the Observatory". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  19. ^ "Tokyo Tower to add 100 meters". The Japan Times. September 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  20. ^ Arpon, Yasmin Lee (March 22, 2012). "Tokyo Skytree: A towering symbol". AsiaOne. Retrieved April 9, 2012. [Tokyo Skytree] will serve as the new broadcasting facility for six terrestrial broadcasters headed by NHK. Tokyo Tower, which stands at 333m… 
  21. ^ "Tokyo Tower antenna bent, tourists evacuate via stairs". Jiji Press (in Japanese). 
  22. ^ "Aquarium gallery". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  23. ^ "Tower Restaurant". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  24. ^ "FoodCourt". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  25. ^ "Foot Town 2F". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  26. ^ "Guinness World Records Museum Tokyo". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  27. ^ "Wax Museum". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  28. ^ "Foot Town 3F". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  29. ^ "Trick Art Gallery". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  30. ^ "Amusement Park". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  31. ^ "Direct staircase to the Main Observatory (Starting Point)". Nippon Television City Corporation. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  32. ^ a b "⑤起死回生のライトアップ". Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). January 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  33. ^ a b c d 特別ライトアップ (in Japanese). 日本電波塔. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  34. ^ "Works". Motoko Ishii. Archived from the original on 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  35. ^ "TOKYO 2016 Lights Up the Tokyo Night". Japanese Olympic Committee. 2007-11-29. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  36. ^ Tokyo Tower English, NOPPONs' Secret
  37. ^ Dong, Bamboo (September 17, 2007). "Crashing Japan". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  38. ^ Krafsur, Richard P.; Munden, Kenneth W. (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1961–1970. University of California Press. p. 578. ISBN 0-520-20970-2. 

External links

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