Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sky Tree

The view from the street overpass looking back towards Nippori. This is why I had so much trouble seeing the Sky Tree initially.

When I visited the Taikan Yokoyama museum and the Yayoi-Yumeji galleries, I also decided to go look at the Sky Tree. I'd be starting just west of Ueno, and from my office in Akihabara (2-3 kilometers south of Ueno station), the Tree was pretty easy to see. My path from Yayoi-Yumeji took me north and east, and when I finally hit the Yamanote train line, I was actually up one station from Ueno at Uguisudani. I couldn't see the Tree for the first 30 minutes or so of my walk because of all the buildings around me.

Eventually, I encountered an elevated expressway, and when I got up on the nearby cross over bridge, I could finally see the Tree. From this point on, I was following a major street south and could usually see the Tree fairly easily between the buildings until I got down to Asakusa and had to turn west again to get over the Sumida river.

Tokyo Tower was first constructed in 1958 as a communications tower, and stands just under 333 meters tall. It's close to Tokyo station, and has become so surrounded by taller buildings that it's no longer useful for its original purpose. The Tokyo Sky Tree, intended to be 634 meters tall (figure 3 meters is 10 feet, or 1 story tall) is being put up a few miles outside of the Tokyo area, and will replace Tokyo Tower as a communications tower. Construction will finish in 2011, and it should be open to the public in 2012.

Right now, it's only 304 meters tall - not yet halfway. But it's already highly visible, and is constantly attracting camera buffs. From when I first saw it at the cross over bridge to when I got to the foot of the building at the train platform took close to an hour of walking. I ended up traversing a "J" shaped path because of the way the streets are laid out, going south, then due east.

The idea was to take a full-distance shot and follow it with a zoom-up as close as my camera would allow (it's an old camera and only has a x4 zoom). As I got closer, I didn't need to zoom in as much. The full album can be found here.

The Sumida river is just the other side of this park, so now I'm due west of the Tree.

The Narihirabashi station is right at the foot of the Tree. There's more construction going on a little to the side of the Tree, indicating that they're either widening the station in preparation for the crowds of expected tourists, or putting in more space for shops or parking. I'm not sure how much of a draw the Tree will be for tourists since you have to transfer trains a couple of times to get here from Tokyo central, and you have to walk a block or two between some of the stations. That is, it's not really convenient to get here. Then again, the same can be said for Tokyo Tower, which isn't very close to any of the nearest stations, and TT always has lots of tourists, so maybe accessibility won't be an issue.

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