The world’s tallest broadcasting tower, the Tokyo Skytree, opened to the public on Tuesday, showcasing Japanese engineering and design expertise. Taking three-and-a-half years to construct, the tower stands at 634 meters (2,080 feet), beating the previous record holder – the Canton Tower in the Chinese city of Guangzhou – by 34 meters.
The world’s tallest structure is still the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which reaches a dizzying 828 meters into the sky.
The Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks, treating visitors to panoramic views of the Japanese capital and beyond – providing the decks aren’t not lost in clouds, that is. The lower deck is located 350 meters up, while the second is at 450 meters.When the weather’s fine, it’s possible to get clear views of the country’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji.
The base of the tower includes eight floors of shops and restaurants, and also houses an aquarium and a planetarium.
Due to its expected popularity, only those with reservations will be able to access the viewing decks during the first couple of months, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.
With Japan being one of the most quake-prone countries in the world, the tower’s designers had to ensure it would be able to withstand some potentially massive shakes.
When the devastating magnitude-9 Great East Japan Earthquake struck the country in March 2011, Tokyo felt the tremor, giving the Skytree an early test. The top of the tower, which was 625 meters tall at the time, is reported to have swayed four to six meters during the height of the quake. Construction workers were forced to cling on to its steel structure to avoid toppling over the top. The good news is, it dealt with the quake as expected.
Engineers also had to make sure it would be able to handle battering winds that sweep in each year during the country’s typhoon season.
To deal with the hazards, the Skytree has inside it a cylindrical structure 375 meters tall and 8 meters wide. Its upper section isn’t joined to the tower, which enables the two parts to sway in opposite directions when a tremor or typhoon strikes, helping the Skytree to maintain stability.
However, despite its cutting edge design, concerns about the structure were raised last winter when large chunks of ice were seen falling from the top of the tower onto the ground below. No one was hurt in the incidents and alterations have since taken place to stop it from happening again.
Eight thousand people turned up for the Skytree’s opening on Tuesday, though sadly the views from the observation decks were ruined by – you guessed it – cloudy weather.