Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tokyo Tower - more than simply a tourist trap

Tokyo Tower, the bright orange and white communications structure standing in the heart of downtown, used to be on everyone's tourist list of must see sights. I never really understood this as although the view stretches across the entire city, it has to be said, Tokyo is a pretty dull lump of concrete to look at in the day time. Nighttime is a different story, as the lights come on, the city seems to come alive. 

Constructed in 1958 and standing at 330m it remained the largest structure in Japan until recently overtaken by Sky Tree. The new communications tower was needed for the conversion to the digital age but suffers the same fate. Tokyo is boring in daylight. The tower itself looks pretty cool though. The chunks of ice fall from it and crashing through the roofs of houses in the neighbourhood remain a bit of a problem though street patrols, to warn people impending doom, seem to have allayed some of the fears.

But back to Tokyo Tower. With its cheap souvenir stores and frankly a bit of a peculiar odour about it, it was heading for national irrelevance. That was until they illuminated it and it becomes something truly inspiring at night. During the earthquake of 2011, the violence of the tremors was so extreme the mast actually kinked. It took a year to repair it but during that time, as Tokyo went dark, it stood as something fairly special in the night skies. It gave us a little bit more hope to keep going.

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