Four years after beginning construction and a year after withstanding the tremors of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, the Tokyo Sky Tree–the world’s tallest tower–opened earlier today to turbulent winds and even more boisterous crowds. Recently completed and fresh from a visit by Lady Gaga, who got a sneak peak at the observation deck last weekend, the tower was welcomed by nearly 8,000 visitors, who were chosen from a lottery pool to board the high-speed elevators and ascend the 634m (2,080ft) tall structure. Thousands more gathered around the base of the steel trunk to celebrate the opening, with many attendees dressing in cardboard Sky Tree costumes and carrying placards emblazoned with the tower’s likeness.
Sky Tree in progress; Photo: Getty
As the BBC reports, the winds were so strong that schedule lifts had to be delayed. Even when they resumed operations, the view from the top was marred by clouds and rain, with little to no view for the tower’s first official visitor, Ayumi Nakazawa, to enjoy. Still, there was much jubilation to be had. The tower has come to represent the steadfastness of the Japanese people, a symbol of the nation’s perseverance and recovery after tragedy. The Sky Tree’s image has further been emboldened by it’s standing as the tallest tower on earth, beating the Canton Tower in Guanzhou by 34 meters and the Shard in London by 324 meters and ranking second only to the Burj Khalifa (828 meters).
The Sky Tree will be operated by the Tobu Railway Company, serving as a broadcast tower for the country’s largest television and radio outlets. It will also draw in revenue as a new tourist attraction, with two observation decks, the first positioned 350 meters above the ground and the second at 450 meters.
Photo: Kimimasa Mayama / EPA