ST 2

Tokyo’s two most compelling yet conflicting traits, the energy from its sheer number of residents and the solitude of its back alleys, are both best appreciated from ground level. The metropolis’ scale can only truly be appreciated from high above, though, which is why Tokyo has no fewer than five major observation decks within the city limits.

As the newest and tallest of the group, the Tokyo Skytree, which opened in the spring of 2012, is by far the most prestigious of the group, and it has quickly become a more vibrant symbol of Japan’s capital than Tokyo Tower itself. But even with the millions of visitors the Skytree saw last year, the attendance was still below what was expected.

This isn’t to say no one’s been coming to Tokyo’s tallest land mark. During its 2013 fiscal year, 6.19 million guests made the trip to one of the Skytree’s two observation decks, located at heights of 350 and 450 meters (1,150 and 1,480 feet).

▼ Last year, more people saw the view from the Skytree than lived in Denmark

ST 1

That figure is even more impressive when you take into account the 40 days for which the observation floors were closed due to inclement weather. Nevertheless, operators had hoped for even higher attendance, and the final tally of 6.19 million guests was still some 250,000 below the original forecast.

All those weather-induced zero-attendance days don’t seem to be to blame, either. While the Skytree’s observation decks were only closed 25 times during its first year of operations, the per-day average attendance of 17,000 in 2013 was roughly 1,000 less than in 2012.

To an extent, a drop-off in visitors is probably to be expected. After years of news stories chronicling the Skytree’s construction, which was delayed by two-months following the massive earthquake in 2011, there was so much pent-up anticipation that it seemed like the whole country flocked to the tower when it finally opened. However, much of the excitement and novelty has passed, and while Tokyo, like any large city, is always growing and changing, the surrounding area doesn’t look particularly different today from 350 meters up than it did two years ago.

▼ Mount Fuji is still in its original location, for example.

ST 3

In light of this, even lower attendance is predicted for this year, with just slightly less than six million guests forecasted, which is still double the attendance that Tokyo Tower can expect. The Skytree’s operators would like to stop the downward slide, though, and are hoping to drum up interest for Tokyo’s highest observation decks by holding seasonal events to draw in repeat visitors, plus focusing more marketing and advertising on foreign visitors, particularly from China and Southeast Asia.

Sadly, the management has yet to announce any scaling back of the 3,600 yen (US$35.30) ticket fee for a trip to the Skytree’s highest observation floor.

Sources: Jin, NHK News Web
Top image: Ashitane
Insert images: Furya/Wikimedia, Flickr