Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fifty Years of Tokyo Tower

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Tokyo Tower, the tallest man-made structure in Japan. Though foreigners' first impressions of the tower often involve the words "Eiffel" and "rip-off," a person residing in any part of Japan today would likely pick Tokyo Tower as Tokyo's most emblematic landmark. In celebration of this big, red jumble of TV antennae, Chorus, Isolate, Confirm presents: FUN FACTS ABOUT TOKYO TOWER!

FACT! The 333-meter tower's ribbon cutting fell on December 23, 1958 (Showa Year 33). Whether this numeric alliteration was intentional or not is unclear. It had been determined that, for a single tower to serve the TV broadcasting needs of the entire Tokyo area, that tower would have to be at least 380 meters tall. Out of concern over high winds shaking the tower, however, the height of the final design was scaled down.

FACT! A public survey was conducted to collect suggestions for the tower's name. There were a total of 86,260 respondents. Among those, Japan Tower, Peace Tower, Showa Tower, Prince Tower and Space Tower were popular suggestions. For some reason the name Tokyo Tower was selected even though only 223 respondents (0.26%) had so voted.

FACT! The tower's original nighttime lighting scheme consisted entirely of incandescent light bulbs lining the tower's four corners from top to bottom. In 1989 those bulbs were replaced with 176 floodlights surrounding the tower's base. The colors used in this lighting scheme are periodically changed in complement with the season.

FACT! A five-story building called Foot Town lies nestled between the tower's "feet." Foot Town houses an aquarium, a wax museum, a Guinness World Records museum, an optical illusion gallery and a convenience store.

FACT! It costs ¥820 to ride the elevator to the Main Observatory (at a height of 150 meters). To continue from there to the Special Observatory (250 meters), it costs an additional ¥600.

FACT! Being the emblematic structure that it is, Tokyo Tower has been destroyed in various Japanese monster movies, including Mothra (1961), Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, (1964) Gamera (1965), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) and Godzilla vs. Mothra vs. Mecha-Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003).


Bentcorner said...

I've never heard of this tower. The one and only time I was in Tokyo, I wasn't allowed out of the airport. :(

Can you see this tower from any hotel room in Tokyo? I've noticed in movies that no matter where a person is staying in Paris, they can clearly see the Eiffel Tower from their hotel room.

Jesse Jace said...

I think it's against Paris city ordinance to build anything with windows that don't face the Eiffel Tower.

I've never stayed in a hotel in Tokyo. Did you ever see Lost in Translation? That movie has countless shots through upscale hotel room windows, yet Tokyo Tower is only prominently shown twice in the whole movie (both times through the window of a car). I am proud to say, however, that I can see it from my living room window. I consider that a rare privilege in a city where some people's only view is of the adjacent building's wall.