I have been following the journey of the Tokyo Skytree from the time it came up in 2012 on Tokyo’s skyline. A broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Japan, it became the tallest structure and reached its full height of 634.0 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011, making it the tallest tower in the world, displacing the Canton Tower, and the second tallest structure in the world after Burj Khalifa (829.8 m/2,722 ft). I have taken many pictures of the Tokyo Skytree over the years and specifically with a theme “reflections”. We are herewith presenting things which are normally not known but are part of history to “reflect” on. Here we go….
1. OWNERSHIP : Who does the Tokyo Skytree belong to?
If you think its the Tokyo Metropolitan Government or the national Japanese Government, you are wrong! The Tokyo Skytree is a private ownership of Tobu Railway Corporation. Not only that all the broadcasting companies who were supportive of the tower to be built were not directly involved with financing the tower and they all necessarily rent the space on Tokyo Skytree from Tobu Railway Corporation on standard rentals.
2. HEIGHT : What was the original planned height of the Tokyo Skytree?
The current height of Tokyo Skytree is 634 meters, but that was not the original plan. The original height was planed at 610.6 meters. The race to keep the tower as the tallest tower in the world and not get superseded by Canton Tower in China (600 meters) , a “factor of safety” was added and the height increased to 634 meters. It’s nearly twice that of the Tokyo Tower at 333 meters.
3. LIGHTUP : How many variations of the illumination does Tokyo Skytree support?
The illumination patterns of Tokyo Skytree are already well known with special lighting the Miyabi and Iki being the basic illumination styles. That’s not all though, the Skytree supports over 16 million lighting styles!!! An all LED system, very detailed colour expressions are supported by Skytree one example being the detailed Valentine’s Day illumination.
4. HISTORY : Was Tokyo Skytree predicted 180 years back?
This one stumped us too. The famous ukiyo-e, woodblock print artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi in one of his creation he painted a mysterious structure whose silhouette is very similar to the Tokyo Skytree. Now that creation is 180 years old and it is drawn at the same location where the tower presently stands!!! Very intriguing.
Whatever the truth the towering structure reflects on the aspirations of the Japanese people in the post March 11 scenario for future hope and ongoing success.
5. NAME : How was the naming of the tower finalized?
The Tokyo Skytree for its name, The Tobu Railway Corporation asked for suggestions from public at large and the name which got the maximum recommendations was Ooedo Tower. The name was already registered for a trademark by a local sweets making company in anticipation of that getting chosen! This made the recommendation fall by the way side including others such as the ‘Mirai Tree’, ‘Rising East Tower’ and ‘Yuemi Yagura’ fall to the wayside. The snap below is exactly one month before the tower was opened to general public and the naming related discussions were on the national television for some Chinese company trying to trademark the Chinese version of the name of Tokyo Skytree Station as 東京晴空塔駅…
6. ENERGY : How are energy needs of such a large tower satisfied?
The Tokyo Skytree has a very low carbon footprint. To achieve this there is a huge underground construction below the tower, a pool of nearly 16.8 meters deep and 7.8 meters wide which stores 70000 tonnes or rain water. Tokyo Skytree has the Japan’s first district heating and cooling (DHC) system that utilizes geothermal energy. DHC is a system where one or several plants generate chilled/hot water in order to provide heating, cooling, and hot water through pipes to buildings within the district. It has several advantages over the conventional distributed heating and cooling systems: energy efficiency, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions, heat island effect mitigation, secondary disaster prevention, and cost efficiency. The project is expected to achieve an overall annual energy efficiency rate (coefficient of performance, or COP) of more than 1.3 – the best in Japan – and reduce annual primary energy consumptions and CO2 emissions by 43 percent and 48 percent (2,271 tons), respectively, compared to the distributed systems.
7. PERSISTENCE : What happened at Tokyo Skytree when the March 11 quake struck?
When the ground started shaking at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011 workers were 497 meters above ground trying to complete an important but very difficult task on Tokyo Skytree. The temblor caused the top of the tower–at a height of 625 meters at the time–to sway an estimated 4 to 6 meters. The workers grabbed onto the steel framework, and as materials creaked due to the shaking, they used the emergency stairway to evacuate to the observation deck at 450 meters. Work resumed after about an hour or two, and the difficult task of lifting of the antenna tower was completed in about 10 minutes. Workers then positioned all 42 jacks. When the work was done, darkness had fallen and traffic jams had formed hundreds of meters below. On March 18, 2011, one week after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tokyo Skytree reached its planned height of 634 meters!!! PERSISTENCE PERSONIFIED, reflects on Japanese discipline and persistence.
8. GEOMETRY : How can one view the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree at relatively same height?
The height of Tokyo Skytree is roughly double of Tokyo Tower 634 to 333 meters. They are also 8.2 kilometers away from each other. So if one stands at a distance “x” from the Tokyo Tower which also is “2x”from the Tokyo Skytree then you should be able to view the two towers appearing to be of the same height. You can get such spots through the Apolonius Circle definition on many locations in Tokyo, one being the Ebisu Garden Place 35 floor observatory. For now we are reflecting on the various geometrical trivia which has now come up on the city skyline.
9. COST : How much did it cost to build the Tokyo Skytree?
Now as is common knowledge, the popular construction in Dubai Burj Khalifa cost $1.5bn to build.So lets take a guess at Tokyo Skytree, it is 650 million dollars to build. Apart from the business calculations, Skytree depends on visitors to observatories as source for money. During its 2013 fiscal year, 6.19 million guests made the trip to one of the Skytree’s two observation decks, located at heights of 350 and 450 meters and efforts are on for increasing this visitor turnout as things head off into the Olympics in 2020.
10. ROYAL : Who visited the Tokyo Skytree before the opening on May 22, 2012?
Tokyo Skytree has visitors before the grand opening in May 2012. The royals, Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, were among the few who visited Tokyo’s new Skytree tower before its grand opening to the general public. The imperial couple went to the highest of the two observation decks, roughly 450 meters (approx. 1,476 feet) high and were the first ones to especially get the 360 degree view of the expansive Tokyo metropolis.
A final reflection shot in the canals surrounding the Tokyo Skytree….