Last November, while venturing around Asakusa, the Japlanning team and I ventured out to the Tokyo SkyTree. After wandering around the grounds for a bit, we decided to go wait in line and perhaps make the “climb” to the top, and check out the view.
We joined the line, only to realise that it was possibly going to be longer than waiting for Splash Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity (okay, maybe it was 30 minutes), we were now close to the admission desk and ready to buy our tickets. It was then that I noticed a sign post showing that we were about to embark on a trip to the 350TH FLOOR!
Well, it was about that time that I decided that perhaps this wasn’t quite for me, and proceeded to make up any excuse to get out of there. While I stayed safely on the ground (well, on the fourth floor), Bryce, who is literally our fearless leader, and the team ventured up 350 metres (not 350 floors, like I’d initially thought) into the air.
When they returned, they had some cool photos to share with me, and, naturally, my phobia became the butt of their jokes for the next few months.
When the opportunity came up in May for a repeat attempt, I decided it was time once-and-for-all to clear the air and conquer my fear, by ascending the second tallest building in the world.
Before I knew it, the day had dawned upon us, and it was time to go make the trek out to ol’ Sumida town and climb the tower. After a series of convoluted train rides to get there from Shinjuku (note for next time, find a simpler route!), eventually we were at the site. It seemed that perhaps the universe was trying to send me a signal though, as it was a crazy hot afternoon, and the escalators leading up to the entrance were all broken down, so we had to take the stairs. A little voice inside was saying “Sam... it’s not too late. Just say you want to go shopping instead”, but, alas, I persevered.
Once inside the building, managed to wrangle through the endless tensa-barriered line, and get to the elevator to go up. The elevators make a bit of a whirring noise as they ascend (it’s a sound-effect, not a real noise), which doesn’t help if you’re height-edly challenged, but nevertheless, it’s takes such a small amount of time that it’s deal-able.
When we reached the 350th “floor”, I had a bit of a look around from safe spot by the inside wall, before deciding that it wasn’t so scary, and slowly edged my way towards the glass walls. The view from this height is spectacular, and you can see all the way across Tokyo, from seeing Tokyo Disney Resort in Tokyo Bay, to the Sumida river, to the high-rises of Shinjuku, Tokyo proper, and Ginza.
After a while, the team started to egg me on (as if coming this far wasn’t already a feat!) to go up to the upper levels. Eventually, I was able to be persuaded, so we purchased our additional tickets and joined the line.
Fortunately, the line wasn’t too long, although it did wrap around through the area and block off the toilets, which I can only assume was a architectural decision that someone forgot to think about. After about 10 or 15 minutes in line, we made it to the next elevator to go up another floor.
Now, normally I wouldn’t just break out of the story to tell you this, but any acrophobe reading this needs to know: If you are severely scared of heights, perhaps this isn’t for you. It nearly was too much for me.
The elevator has all the telltale signs of a regular elevator. You know, buttons, doors, lights, overhead music. But it does have one special “Tokyo SkyTree” signature difference. When you reach the “almost there” floor, the masked paneling around the doors disappears (or seemingly becomes transparent), as well as the panelling in the roof, and you can literally see how high you are. I mean it, you can see the Tokyo skyline and that you’re rapidly moving higher and higher. Daylight comes in from the roof. I was pretty sure I was going to have a panic attack, but I grasped onto the handrail (luckily I’d nabbed a spot close!) and closed my eyes and kept breathing - phew.
The floor you exit on is nice, but it wraps around to an “edge” experience, where you’ll find yourself literally hanging over the ￼side of the building. This itself was pretty scary, and for a while I was literally leaning up against the wall trying so hard to not .. um.. die?
Although the view from the wall side was pretty amazing, eventually, I was lured further up the walkway to where you reach the point where it’s all back inside the tower, where I was able to regain composure and we very quickly exited.
On the “ground” floor (where the exit elevator takes you), there’s a gift shop, where you can buy some nice souvies that prove you made the trek or something, but the real souvenir is what lies next to the SkyTree, and that’s the amazing 100% Chocolate Café, which is the real reward for anyone mighty enough to beat the ‘tree.