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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower京都タワー

Towering above nearby buildings, Kyoto Tower is a striking landmark that over the years has become something of a tourist attraction in the ancient capital. It is just north of Kyoto Station, and because of restrictions on building height in Kyoto, it dominates the skyline in a way that towers in other cities could only dream of.

Built in 1964 in tandem with the Olympic Games held in Tokyo that year, it was opposed by the majority of Kyotoites. The city government however forced through its construction in the name of appearing "modern."

For younger residents of Kyoto, it is just one part of the modern cityscape; for older people, and many foreigners, it remains a symbol of a construction industry gone wild--and terrible taste. Noted critic Alex Kerr famously called it a "stake through the heart of the city."

The Tower is built on the roof of a building--the Kyoto Tower Hotel--in front of the Station building. The first floor of that building has a gift shop which swarms with junior high school students from around Japan on their school trip.

At 131 meters high, it affords a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city. The observation deck is open from 9 am - 9 pm, and costs 600 yen for adults. Capacity is 500 people.

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