Current Location

Tokyo Japan

The Tokyo Sky Tree

The Tokyo Sky Tree is the second tallest man made structure in the world. Isn’t that impressive? Whatsmore, it wasn’t built for any other reason than to Be Quite Big. There are no shops or offices or apartments. There is nothing other than a lift shaft connecting the entrance below and the viewing platforms above. It was built with the sole purpose of being tall. I thought this fact in and of itself was worth mentioning.

So here it is: The world's second tallest man made thing.
So here it is: The world’s second tallest man made thing.
The crowded Tembo Deck.
The crowded Tembo Deck.
The view from the Tembo Deck.
The view from the Tembo Deck.
The view (again) from the Tembo Deck.
The view (again) from the Tembo Deck.
...And then the completely different* view from the Tembo Galleria.  *Not actually very different
…And then the completely different* view from the Tembo Galleria.
*Not actually very different
...although that's not to say it isn't impressive.
…although that’s not to say it isn’t impressive.

We decided to go and take a look. The Sky Tree has two viewing decks – one at 350m high, and a second one further up, at 450m high.

The first, lower deck is called the Tembo Deck, and costs 2,000 yen to reach.

At 350 metres high, the Tembo Deck offers panoramic views of the vast city below. It features a coffee bar, a photography station specializing in high quality selfies, and a range of strange gawdy plastic character things which have no place whatsoever in a tall observatory such as this.

The view from the Tembo Deck is indeed impressive. But then, of course it is. You’re 350m up in the air above Tokyo. How could the view be anything but?

The Tembo Deck also houses a second ticket counter, from whence you can buy a second ticket for 1,000 Yen which gives you access to the Tembo Galleria, another 100 metres up, reached via possibly the most impressive elevator ride known to man.

I guess there is some ‘nudge’ psychology going on here. Punters who have already parted with 2,000 yen may well feel it’s worth the extra 1,000 yen to go a little bit further. Indeed, thus ran our own logic: We came this far. We’ll never come back here. We might as go as high as we can.

It works. There’s obviously a reason they don’t demand 3,000 yen up front when you first arrive – they’ve calculated people are more likely to give you 2,000 yen and then 1,000 yen more a bit later on. They’ve got us figured out. And it makes perfect sense, don’t get me wrong. I guess I just resent the feeling that I’m being manipulated, even if it’s being manipulated into taking a lift 450 metres into the sky.

Either way, we duly parted with another pair of 1,000 yen notes, and took the elevator to the 450m Tembo Galleria.

Surprisingly… Or, perhaps more intelligently, completely not at all surprisingly… the view from 450 metres up isn’t all that different from 350 metres up. You can still see pretty much the same stuff. It all looks just as impressive. Only now, I guess, everything is just that tiny little bit smaller and the angles have changed a bit.

The website for the Tokyo Sky Tree gives the Tembo Galleria the hard sell. ‘You can ponder the distant past of the Edo period’, it says, ‘or dream of the future while strolling on the world’s highest Sky Walk.’ Personally I didn’t do either of these things. I was wondering who got paid to come up with the names ‘Tembo Deck’ and Tembo Galleria’, how much they were paid, and how I can get that job in the future.

I’m being harsh, of course. It probably is worth the slog up to the upper deck, if only to be able to say you’ve done it. We went at night, and the view was predictably utterly spectacular. I’ve always said cities look best at night, and Tokyo is barely an exception. At the same time, having seen some photos taken from the Sky Deck at day, it isn’t inevitable that the view at night is best: indeed, during the day you’ll be able to pick out a great deal more detail, and perhaps its better during the day.

Alas, its worth going whenever you go. Unless there’s cloud.

Tickets for the Tokyo Sky Tree can be purchased from the ticket office on the day you want to go up. It costs 3,000 yen to go all the way to the top, or 2,000 yen if you only want to go as far as the first 350m viewing platform. Their website is here.