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Tokyo Tower VS Tokyo Skytree: Conquering two of Tokyo’s iconic towers in a day

Tokyo Tower VS Tokyo Skytree: Conquering two of Tokyo’s iconic towers in a day

Updated as of 4 May 2023
Originally published on 5 May 2021


One thing that I have not done, despite having been to Tokyo (東京都 Tōkyō-to) multiple times, is to visit the Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー). As a city known for its tall buildings and skyscrapers, the Tokyo Skytree stands out as the city’s tallest structure. As for Tokyo Tower (東京タワー), the last time I had been to one of its observatories was more than a decade ago!


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


During my trip in 2021, when I found out that both of these very iconic towers of Tokyo were having a koinobori (鯉のぼり carp streamer) display to commemorate Children’s Day (子供の日 Kodomo no Hi) on 5 May, I figured it was the perfect opportunity for a “Tower Tour” and  visit them both on the same day! You may wonder, why a carp to represent Children’s Day? The carp is chosen as a symbol for Children's Day as they are seen as strong-willed and spirited fish that swim upstream and go against the currents. Doesn’t this boundless energy and resilience remind you of kids? 


The first tower: Tokyo Tower!

(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Starting off on my journey, I had decided to visit the Tokyo Tower first as it was the one closest to where I am staying in Tokyo. After a quick 30-minute train ride to JR Hamamatsucho Station (浜松町駅 Hamamatsuchō-eki), and a 20-minute leisurely stroll, I had arrived. 


For 2023, 40 special Sesame Street koinobori are included into the mix, so try your best to spot them! (Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


With 333 koinobori displayed in front of the entrance on the 1st floor, the colourful carps can be seen fluttering in the wind as though they were swimming in the sky! Fun fact: the reason why 333 streamers are displayed is to parallel the tower’s impressive height—at 333m tall, it’s Japan’s second-tallest building! 


One thing that I had missed was the Sanma nobori (さんまのぼり pacific saury streamer). A keen eye would have spotted the saury swimming amongst the carps. Besides representing the friendly relationship between Iwate Prefecture's Ofunato City (大船渡市 Ōfunato-shi) and Tokyo Tower, this adorable saury also serves as a reminder of the revitalisation efforts for the Great East Japan Earthquake.


¥1,200 for 1 adult Main Deck ticket. (Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


After enjoying the vibrant streams of coloured koinobori, I purchased a Main Deck Ticket. The area on the first floor is decked with multiple little shops and  restaurants. The Main Deck is located at the 150m mark approximately halfway up the tower. A smaller observatory is located at 250m. This is a special observatory, and the highlight of Tokyo Tower. As I also wanted to visit  the Tokyo Skytree, I had decided to just check out the lower observatory.


No Mount Fuji for me. Maybe I’m looking the wrong way? (Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Despite the cloudy weather, I was still able to have a good view of the surrounding area. The tower is surrounded by temples and parks, and is also neighboured by Roppongi (六本木), Shiodome (汐留), and Shinagawa (品川). On a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san) just beyond the rows of buildings in Tokyo. On the day I went, it was pretty cloudy, so I recommend checking the weather forecast in advance and planning to visit on a sunny day instead.


Delicious Arabiki Sausage Hotdog, followed by a quick prayer at the shrine. (Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


On this floor, there are  also a few souvenir shops and restaurants. I grabbed a quick bite at Café La Tour and stumbled upon the Great Shinto Shrine of the Tower. It was erected to honour Nippon Denpato (日本電波塔), the company that owns the tower, and the safety of all visitors to Tokyo Tower.


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Before heading to my next destination, I dropped by the souvenir shop. There were many types of souvenirs available with the motifs of the Tokyo Tower from masks to socks and even snacks! I think they would make great gifts for people who would like to take a part of Tokyo Tower back with them.


Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)
Address: 4-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
Nearest station: Akabanebashi Station (赤羽橋駅)
Opening hours (Main Deck): 9am–10:30pm (Last admission 10pm)
Opening hours (Top Deck Tour): 9am–10:15pm (last tour 9:30pm–9:45pm)
Admission fee (Main Deck): ¥1,200 (Adults), ¥1,000 (16–18 years old), ¥700 (7–15 years old), ¥500 (4–6 years old), Free (Ages 3 and below)
Tel: +81 3-3433-5111
*For more information about pricing and opening hours, click here.
*Information is accurate as of time of writing. Please refer to the facility's official website for updates.


From tower to tower

(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


After bidding farewell to Tokyo Tower, I took a 10-minute walk to Daimon Station (大門駅 Daimon-eki) and boarded the Toei Asakusa Line (都営地下鉄浅草線 Toei Chikatetsu Asakusa-sen) to Asakusa Station (浅草駅 Asakusa-eki). The trip only took 15 minutes, before transferring to the Tobu Skytree Line (東武スカイツリーライン) to Tokyo Skytree Station (とうきょうスカイツリー駅 Tōkyō Sukaitsurī-eki). It was only a stop away from Asakusa Station, so the whole journey from Tokyo Tower to Tokyo Skytree only took 30 minutes. 


The second tower: Tokyo Skytree!

Can you see the blue hues of the Tokyo Skytree? It is an original colour based on aijiro (藍白), the lightest shade of Japanese traditional indigo blue. (Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Stepping out of Tokyo Skytree Station, I am greeted by the tallest structure in Japan. Standing at 634m, the height of the tower was actually determined by the translation of the region’s old name “Musashi”; 6 (六 mu), 3 (三 san), 4 (四 shi). Musashi Province (武蔵国 Musashi no kuni) was a province of Japan, which comprised of the Tokyo Metropolis, most of Saitama Prefecture, and part of Kanagawa Prefecture.


Here, there’s a total of 1,000 koinobori and they can be spotted ‘swimming’ in various locations around the Tokyo Skytree Town (東京スカイツリータウン). What’s different about this display is that the koinobori are made in collaboration with Hyogo Prefecture’s Kato City (加東市 Katō-shi) which produces a special carp streamer called Banshugoi (播州鯉).


Up and away we go! The lift actually goes up pretty fast… and everything looks so small from up the Tokyo Skytree. (Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)


Since I was already there, I picked the Combo Ticket (¥3,100) which covers both the TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO DECK (Floor 340–350) and TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO GALLERIA (Floor 440–450). If you think that going up to the Skytree is solely for a panoramic view of Tokyo, you’re highly mistaken! In the observatory decks, visitors can enjoy special exhibitions that are held from time to time, and one can even dine at some of Japan’s highest cafes and restaurants. There’s also a cute post station where you can mail off postcards to your loved ones from Japan’s tallest building. Compared to Tokyo Tower, you’ll definitely get to see more of Tokyo from up here. 


Inside the Skytree, its interior has a more futuristic look, and the decks often hold special exhibitions. In June 2019 when these photos were taken, Tokyo Skytree was having a Hello Kitty Exhibition! (Image credit: JR Times / Sue Lynn)


Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 131-8634
Nearest station: Tokyo Skytree Station (とうきょうスカイツリー駅) / Oshiage Station (押上駅)
Opening hours: 10am–9pm (Last admission: 8pm)
Admission fee (Same-day, Combo Ticket on weekdays): ¥3,100 (Adults), ¥2,350 (12–17 years old), ¥1,450 (6–11 years old), Free (Ages 5 and below)
Admission fee (Same-day, Combo Ticket on holidays): ¥3,400 (Adults), ¥2,550 (12–17 years old), ¥1,550 (6–11 years old), Free (Ages 5 and below)
Tel: +81 570-550-634
*For more information about pricing and the opening hours for April and May 2023, click here.
*Information is accurate as of time of writing. Please refer to the facility's official website for updates.


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Right at the base of Tokyo Skytree is TOKYO Solamachi (東京ソラマチ), a shopping complex with more than 300 shops and restaurants. Feeling a little peckish, I was on the hunt for something sweet! This is where I spotted the KIRBY CAFE TOKYO on the fourth floor.


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


A cosy cafe that features Nintendo’s popular character Kirby and his friends, the cafe offers a variety of amazingly decorated food. Known for his distinct play mechanics based on his ability to absorb enemies into his body and acquiring their powers, Kirby is going to be filling my belly instead! During my visit, the cafe was having its Spring Picnic Fair (19 March–6 June 2021), and I couldn't miss the opportunity to try some seasonal items. After much deliberation, I had decided to go for the Kābyi no haru sagashi (カービィの春さがし Kirby searching for spring) which costs ¥1,078 (tax included).


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


This set came with a cup of Japanese green tea and sakura mochi (桜もち) wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf topped with konpeito (金平糖 sugar candy) and kohakutou (琥珀糖 gummy candy). The pink sakura mochi looked like Kirby, which was very cute! The sweetness from the mochi and candy paired perfectly with the green tea that balances it out with its mellow flavour and bitter taste. 


(Image credit: JR East / Julia Yee)


Having filled my belly with happiness, I continued to explore TOKYO Solamachi and Tokyo Skytree Town. There were many shops selling little food items such as Strawberry Mania that sold a variety of strawberry-themed desserts. I had to hold myself back to save space for my dinner later on! I even spotted the Pokémon Center with Rayquaza right at the entrance. It is said that this Pokémon dwells high in the sky, and hence it is proudly displayed at the shop’s entrance. The wondrous variety of memorabilia here is sure to delight any Pokémon fan. Just when I thought my trip was over, I discovered that this mall even had an aquarium! Sumida Aquarium is an urban aquarium where you can see penguins swimming leisurely in the spacious indoor pool.


TOKYO Solamachi (東京ソラマチ)
Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 131-0045
Nearest station: Tokyo Skytree Station (とうきょうスカイツリー駅)
Opening hours: 10am–9pm
Tel: +81 3-5302-3480
*Information is accurate as of time of writing. Please refer to the facility's official website for updates.


So... Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree?

After a long day of visiting both equally iconic towers of Tokyo, which tower do I recommend? Ideally, I would have liked to spend more time exploring the area around Tokyo Tower and as well as  up in Skytree’s observation decks to give you a better verdict. However from my trip, both towers offer unique experiences that you only can experience at that respective tower. Tokyo Tower offers a closer view of the city, and I could “feel” the history of Tokyo through waves of nostalgia. Tokyo Skytree, on the other hand, is a trendier and more upbeat place to experience modern Tokyo. 


Given the opportunity, I would like to visit both skyscrapers again, with or without the displays of koinobori! Maybe I should wait another decade before visiting again to see how much these landmarks of Tokyo have changed. 


Header image credit: JR East / Julia Yee


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