Tokyo Skytree - a project of the the Tobu Railway Co., Ltd. and Tobu Tower Skytree Co., Ltd. - is one of the most exciting building projects happening in Tokyo, and definitely the most exciting thing happening in the drear corner of Tokyo's Sumida ward where it is being built.
Construction began on this super modern looking broadcasting tower in July 2008, and completion is scheduled for March/April 2012. But it is touted as more than just a broadcasting tower. It is also a landmark, on which much has been lavished in terms of design and technological expertise. And it is also a "town with a tower," to become a 3 hectare complex that includes commercial, academic, and museum facilities, including a high rise building. The two observatories, one at 350m, the second at 450m, will include restaurants and shops.
SkyTree looks set, therefore to give more than a boost to just the skyline of eastern Tokyo. It will give a boost to surrounding Sumida ward as well.
Sumida ward is well known for its sumo, with the Kokugikan sumo indoor stadium and the excellent and avant-garde-looking Tokyo Edo Museum, both in Ryogoku. However, once you're out of that vicinity right by the Sumida River and go any further west, you strike what is pretty much urban desert: dull, old, uninspired, low rise concrete buildings with little of anything - not even any supermarkets or shopping malls. The next island of commerce is Kinshicho, one stop from Oshiage station (near which Sky Tree stands), south on the Hanzomon subway line, or Asakusa, a stop or two west.
Sky Tree has been built smack in the middle of that nothingness, right next to Narihira Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line. It's hard to imagine right now how Sky Tree is going to do much to rejuvenate anything much more than the block of land it's to be built on, or to foster "a future community formed at its foot [that] will be one of a kind filled with tenderness" (from the English-language pamphlet), but at least it will provide eastern Sumida with something very striking to show off.
Sumida's pride will be double in that not only will Sky Tower be taller than any other building in Tokyo - or Japan, but it will take over Tokyo Tower's broadcasting signal transmission role.
The Sky Tree will be lit up at night in two different lighting patterns on alternate days.