*The wax museum in the write up has been closed since September 2013.
For that “high in the sky” look at Tokyo, climb to the observatory levels of Tokyo Tower, located in Roppongi. The main observatory platform is 150 meters high, and the special observatory gives you a panoramic view, including the harbor and bay, from a height of 250 meters. Both levels offer a stupendous look at the greater Tokyo area, and on a clear day you will even see Mt. Fuji rising majestically into the sky. At 333 meters, Tokyo Tower is no longer the city’s tallest structure, that honor now goes to Skytree, but it is cheaper to go up and the lines are shorter. All eight television stations and five radio stations in the Tokyo area beam their signals from antennas installed atop the tower, and the police department has cameras mounted to it to monitor traffic on surrounding expressways and other main arteries. If you are in the tower 15 minutes before sunset you can enjoy the view by day and watch the cities lights turn on as it grows dark. Construction of Tokyo Tower began in June 1957 and was completed in December 1958. Although it is higher than the Eiffel Tower, it is much lighter with 4,000 tons of steel as compared with 7,000 tons needed to build the French structure. Even so, Tokyo Tower is solid enough to withstand both the strongest earthquake and 90-meter-per-second winds.
Under the tower, the Tokyo Tower Building houses exhibits and offers both entertainment as well as education. An aquarium on the first floor is Japan’s largest, with 8,000 fish representing 700 species from all over the world. Included are examples of Japan’s renowned carp and goldfish. The 3,500 square-meter, two-story tourist area includes souvenir shops, restaurants, coffee shops and a game corner. On the third floor, see the first wax museum built in the Orient. One hundred lifelike figures of famous persons are presented and dramatic scenes enhanced by special lighting and sound effects.If you are interested in learning about modern Japanese life, don’t miss the fourth floor. Numerous showrooms feature exhibits by the government as well as Japan’s leading companies. Advances in technology are displayed in the form of up-to-date examples of cars, computers and kitchens. The showroom of Japan Automobile Federation offers exhibits useful to drivers interested in improving their driving skills. Fees to the main observatory are: Adults, ¥820, middle/primary school age, ¥460; kindergarten, ¥310. Fees to the special observatory cost an additional ¥600 for adults, ¥400/350 for children. Fees to see the wax museum are: Adults; ¥500; children, ¥350. Fees for the aquarium are: Adults, ¥1000; children, ¥500. No credit cards accepted for tower entrance.
TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome Line to Tachikawa. Change to the Chuo Line and travel to Yotsuya Station. Change to Marunouchi Subway Line bound for Kasumigaseki (3 stops). Change to the Hibiya Line for Kamiyacho Station (1 stop). Get off the subway and exit the station either way. Turn left and walk one block. Turn left again, and the Tokyo Tower is right there! Or, it is only a ¥1300 taxi ride from the New Sanno. Opening Hours: 9am–10pm. –Barbara Smith. Liz Ruskin updated hours and fees, 2011, updated with photos Kelly O’Donnell, May 2013, top photo by Valerie DeLello, Dec 2013.
Also check out Tokyo Skytree.
Comments & last two photo by Sarah Straus, December 2013: You can get a reduced price ticket to the Main Observatory plus a free dessert on your birthday. Also, the day we went in December there was plenty of parking in the parking lot located at the base of the tower.