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The Tokyo Tower (東京タワー Tōkyō tawā) is a communications and observation tower located in Shiba Park, Minato, Tokyo, Japan. At 333 metres (1,093 ft), it is the second-tallest artificial structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations. It features prominently in Japanese media as a symbol for Tokyo.
Built in 1958, the tower's main sources of revenue are tourism and antenna leasing. Over 150 million people have visited the tower since its opening. FootTown, a four-storey building located directly under the tower, houses museums, restaurants and shops. Departing from there, guests can visit two observation decks. The two-storey Main Observatory is located at 150 metres (490 ft), while the smaller Special Observatory reaches a height of 250 metres (820 ft).
The tower acts as a support structure for an antenna. Originally intended for television broadcasting, radio antennas were installed in 1961, but the tower is now used to broadcast signals for Japanese media outlets such as NHK, TBS and Fuji TV. Japan's planned digital television transition by July 2011 was problematic, however; Tokyo Tower's height (333 meters) was not high enough to adequately support complete terrestrial digital broadcasting to the area. A taller digital broadcasting tower, known as Tokyo Skytree, was completed on February 29, 2012.
Appearances in Super Sentai
The tower prominently appears in the film Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters the Movie: Protect the Tokyo Enetower! in which the Tower is now known also as Tokyo Enetower. In addition to its functions, it is also the central control station for a dozen Enetron tanks surrounding it. Enter attempts to use the tower as a transport beacon to take all the Enetron tanks to Hyper Space but is prevented by the Go-Busters.
Tokyo Tower's two main revenue sources are antenna leasing and tourism. It functions as a radio and television broadcasting antenna support structure and is a tourist destination that houses several different attractions. Over 150 million people have visited the tower in total since its opening in late 1958. Tower attendance had been steadily declining until it bottomed out at 2.3 million in 2000. Since then, attendance has been rising, and it has recently been attracting approximately 3 million visitors per year. The first area tourists must visit upon reaching the tower is FootTown, a four-story building stationed directly under the tower. Here, visitors can eat, shop and visit several museums and galleries. Elevators that depart from the first floor of FootTown can be used to reach the first of two observations decks, the two-story Main Observatory. For the price of another ticket, visitors can board another set of elevators from the second floor of the Main Observatory to reach the final observation deck—the Special Observatory.
Japan currently employs both analog and digital broadcasting, but by July 2011 all television broadcasting is to be digital. Tokyo Tower is not a reliable broadcasting antenna for completely digital broadcasting because the tower is not tall enough to transmit the higher frequency waves needed to areas surrounded by forests or high-rise buildings. As an alternative, a new 634-metre-tall (2,080 ft) tower called the Tokyo Skytree was opened in 2012. To make Tokyo Tower more appealing to NHK and five other commercial broadcasters who plan to move their transmitting stations to the new tower, Nihon Denpatō officials drafted a plan to extend its digital broadcasting antenna by 80 to 100 metres at a cost of approximately ¥4 billion (US$50 million). Because these plans have not been realized, Tokyo Tower is expected to stop transmitting digital TV radio waves with the exception of Open University of Japan, who will continue to broadcast through the tower. FM radio stations will also continue to utilize the tower for broadcasting in the Tokyo area. Masahiro Kawada, the tower's planning director, also pointed out the possibility of the tower becoming a backup for the Tokyo Skytree, depending on what the TV broadcasters want or need.
The tip of the antenna was damaged on March 11, 2011 as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake. On July 19, 2012, the Tokyo Tower's height shrank to 315 meters while the top antenna was repaired for damage sustained during the earthquake.
Located in the base of the tower is a 4-storey building known as FootTown. The first floor includes the Aquarium Gallery, a reception hall, the 400-person-capacity "Tower Restaurant," a FamilyMart convenience store and a souvenir shop. This floor's main attractions, however, are the three elevators that serve as a direct ride to the Main Observatory. The second floor is primarily a food and shopping area. In addition to the five standalone restaurants, the second floor's food court consists of four restaurants, including a McDonald's and a Pizza-La.
FootTown's third and fourth floors house several tourist attractions. The third floor is home to the Guinness World Records Museum Tokyo, a museum that houses life-size figures, photo panels and memorabilia depicting interesting records that have been authenticated by the Guinness Book. The Tokyo Tower Wax Museum, opened in 1970, displays wax figures imported from London where they were made. The figures on display range from pop culture icons such as The Beatles to religious figures such as Jesus Christ. A hologram gallery named the Gallery DeLux, a lounge and a few specialty stores are also located on this floor. Tokyo Tower's Trick Art Gallery is located on the building's forth and final floor. This gallery displays optical illusions, including paintings and objects that visitors can interact with.
On the roof of the FootTown building is a small amusement park that contains several small rides and hosts live performances for children. On weekends and holidays, visitors can use the roof to access the tower's outside stairwell. At approximately 660 steps, the stairwell is an alternative to the tower's elevators and leads directly to the Main Observatory.
Tokyo Tower has two observation decks—the Main Observatory and the Special Observatory; both offer a 360 degree view of Tokyo and, on clear days, Mount Fuji can be seen to the west-southwest. The two-floor Main Observatory, located at 145 m, provides visitors with a view of Tokyo and houses several attractions. The first floor is home to a small café and Club 333, a small stage that is used to put on live music shows.
Also located on this floor are two "look down windows" that allow visitors to stand over a small clear window and look to the ground 145 m below. The second floor (at 150 m) houses a small souvenir shop and a Shinto shrine, the highest shrine in the special wards of Tokyo. The elevators leading to the Special Observatory are also located on this floor. Departing on these elevators, visitors can reach the Special Observatory. a small, circular, completely enclosed observatory located at 250 m.
A large broadcasting tower was needed in the Kantō region after NHK, Japan's public broadcasting station, began television broadcasting in 1953. Private broadcasting companies began operating in the months following the construction of NHK's own transmission tower. This communications boom led the Japanese government to believe that transmission towers would soon be built all over Tokyo, eventually overrunning the city. The proposed solution was the construction of one large tower capable of transmitting to the entire region. Furthermore, because of the country's postwar boom in the 1950s, Japan was searching for a monument to symbolize its ascendancy as a global economic powerhouse. Construction underway on February 25, 1958
Hisakichi Maeda, founder and president of Nippon Denpatō, the tower's owner and operator, originally planned for the tower to be taller than the Empire State Building, which at 381 meters was the highest structure in the world. However, the plan fell through because of the lack of both funds and materials. The tower's height was eventually determined by the distance the TV stations needed to transmit throughout the Kantō region, a distance of about 150 kilometres (93 mi). Tachū Naitō, renowned designer of tall buildings in Japan, was chosen to design the newly proposed tower. Looking to the Western world for inspiration, Naitō based his design on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. With the help of engineering company Nikken Sekkei Ltd., Naitō claimed his design could withstand earthquakes with twice the intensity of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake or typhoons with wind speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour (140 mph).
The new construction project attracted hundreds of tobi, traditional Japanese construction workers who specialized in the construction of high-rise structures. The Takenaka Corporation broke ground in June 1957 and each day at least 400 laborers worked on the tower. It was constructed of steel, a third of which was scrap metal taken from US tanks damaged in the Korean War. When the 90-metre antenna was bolted into place on October 14, 1958, Tokyo Tower was the tallest freestanding tower in the world, taking the title from the Eiffel Tower by 13 metres. Despite being taller than the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower only weighs about 4,000 tons, 3,300 tons less than the Eiffel Tower. While other towers have since surpassed Tokyo Tower's height, the structure is still the tallest self-supporting steel structure in the world and was the tallest artificial structure in Japan until April 2010, when the new Tokyo Skytree became the tallest building of Japan. It was opened to the public on December 23, 1958 at a final cost of ¥2.8 billion ($8.4 million in 1958). Tokyo Tower was mortgaged for ¥10 billion in 2000.
- The Noppon are the mascots of Tokyo Tower, as well as its fictional Tokyo Enetower incarnation.