Hanami in Tokyo - Day 1: SkyTree!

Hanami in Tokyo - Day 1: SkyTree!

Published on June 11 2017
Posted by: Kyle
Segment: tours
The end of March and the beginning of April is a special time in Japan: it's the end of one year and the beginning of another....metaphorically. The fiscal and school years end in March as winter melts away, and April is the beginning of anew with the arrival of spring! Specifically, the arrival of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) signals the arrival of the new year.

Although Japan does run on an imperial calendar year system (2017 is "Heisei 29"), the appearance of Sakura allows everyone to know that the new year has arrived, and many things happen during this time: graduations, entrance ceremonies, job fairs, traveling, and hanami.

Sakura in the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Park
Blooming Sakura in the Kanto Earthquake Memorial Park


Yeah, that's the special time of the year to view the Cherry Blossoms as they bloom all over Japan. And what do people do during Hanami season? They view the cherry blossoms all over Japan, have picnics under the blossoms (it's actually good luck to have a blossom fall into your drink!), take photos out the wazoo (take a look at our Ueno Park visit), and enjoy themselves during the break.

Why are you really there?

Well, our primary purpose of visiting Tokyo on this day was to visit Tokyo SkyTree! As I have been to Tokyo Tower (twice), I thought it would be nice to visit something new, such as SkyTree.

SkyTree sits in the Sumida ward of Tokyo, which is to the north/north-east of the Tokyo main area. As SkyTree was built in (2008-)2011 as (yet another) radio/TV broadcasting tower (this one broadcasts digital signal to modernize, versus analog signal that Tokyo Tower broadcasts), it was also built as a tourist trap attraction, and the surrounding area definitly reflects that, with SkyTree desserts, SkyTree bags, SkyTree drinks, and SkyTree promo shops.

At a total height of 634m (about 2050ft), it is the tallest building in Japan (over 300m more than Tokyo Tower). For a same-day ticket, it costs about ¥2060 (rough equivilant of $21) to go to the first observation deck (about 350m). Then, to go to the higher observation deck at 450m, it will cost ¥1000 more (about $10).

Piko Taro at SkyTree
Piko Taro display in the NHK Character Shop
There is plenty in SkyTree to bring tourists there, such as an NHK Character shop, the Sky Tree Town Shopping area, and the occasional kiddie playgrounds, so you could easily spend all day there and not even realize it.

The downside is that if you get a same-day ticket, you'll need to wait in the incredibly long line and that could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you want (and we recommend), visit the online reservation site and get your tickets/reservations in advance (although that will cost ¥3000 and can only be done with Japanese credit cards, so if you're visiting Japan for less than a year, you're better just waiting in the line - sorry).

Our Result

Is SkyTree worth it? Yes, but not often. As it is a tourist attraction, there will be lots of people. You do get a great view of the northern view of Tokyo (whereas Tokyo Tower is the southern side) at 350m, it seems like a lot of money to pay to be crammed with a lot of people. If you visit Japan, we recommend it just to say you've done it, but not often. We do recommend Tokyo Tower at the cost of ¥900, the crowd is much smaller and you can enjoy yourself more, rather than being shuttled like cattle.

On to Day 2: Tokyo Station, Imperial Palace, Hamarikyu Gardens, and...Shake Shack?