Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower: Which is Right for You?

Tokyo is a place where tradition meets the future. The Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower debate perfectly captures this dynamic.

Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower has stood tall since 1958 as a symbol of Japan’s post-war recovery. It was the tallest structure in Japan until the futuristic Tokyo Skytree surpassed it in 2012. The Skytree combines modern design with traditional Japanese architectural elements, offering incredible views of Tokyo.

This article compares Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, exploring their histories, designs, attractions, and overall experiences. While both towers offer unique perspectives, this guide will help you decide which is best if you can only visit one.

Let’s find out which tower deserves the title of Tokyo’s Best.

Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower – History

Before these two goliaths go head-to-head, you might wonder why these towers were built and their purpose. 

Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree started construction on 14 July 2008 and was completed on 29 February 2012. It opened to visitors on 22 May of the same year.

The Skytree was constructed as the main television and radio broadcast tower of the Kanto region. Its soaring height is due to the many high-rise buildings across Tokyo. Tokyo Skytree was also designed as a modern observation deck, allowing visitors to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Kanto region.

Tokyo Tower

After World War II, Japan wanted to create a new monument symbolising its national recovery. Construction on Tokyo Tower began on 23 June 1957 and was completed the following year. It opened to the public on 23 December 1958.

Tokyo Tower was intended to be a television broadcasting tower. However, in 1961, radio antennas were added, and it became a multi-purpose communication tower. Tokyo Tower was also designed as an observatory, allowing visitors to view the ever-growing city from above.

Comparative infographic titled 'Tale of the Tape' featuring Tokyo Skytree versus Tokyo Tower. The left side shows Tokyo Skytree at night, lit in white, noted as 634 meters tall, opened in 2012 in Sumida. The right side depicts Tokyo Tower illuminated in vibrant orange and red, noted as 333 meters tall, opened in 1958 in Minato. Both images are set against a black background with additional branding for JapanTravelPlanning.com.
The tale of the tape for these two iconic towers.

Architectural Design and Features

Both the Tokyo Skytree and the Tokyo Tower are massive architectural achievements. They look entirely different from one another, stand at distinct heights, and have dissimilar features. But which one comes out on top in this face-off?

Tokyo Skytree

The designers of Tokyo Skytree consulted traditional and modern architecture for design ideas. Part of the structure was inspired by Horyuji Pagoda, a wooden building constructed in 594. 

The Tokyo Skytree has a large triangular base, which becomes a circular tower as it rises. This design style makes the tower more stable and reduces the shadows on the ground from the sun. 

The Skytree is illuminated at night with colours steeped in Japanese culture and tradition. The blue colour, Iki, was inspired by the approach to life taken by residents of old Edo. The lavender colour, Miyabi, represents traditional Japanese aesthetics. 

The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest tower in Japan, standing at an imposing 634 meters (2,080 feet). This makes it the tallest tower in the world and the fifth tallest structure.

This massive tower has two observation decks. The lower deck is 350 metres (1,150 feet) high, and the highest observatory deck is 450 metres (1,480 feet) high.

Tokyo Tower

At first glance, Tokyo Tower resembles the Eiffel Tower. When the designers realised it would become a symbol of Japan and an important part of Tokyo’s skyline, they looked around the world for inspiration. They based the exterior architectural design on the famous Paris Tower, taking influence from the lattice framework.

Rather than copying the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower infused its design with Japanese style. It is painted in iconic orange and white segments. It’s often mistaken for red and white, like the Japanese flag. However, the colour used is international orange, which complies with air safety regulations. 

The Tokyo Tower stands at an impressive 333 metres (1,090 feet), making it the tallest freestanding tower in the world at the time of construction. It remained the tallest Tower in Japan until the Skytree was complete.

Like The Skytree, the Tokyo Tower also has two observation decks for visitors. The lower deck is 150 metres (492 feet), and the top deck is a stunning 250 metres (820 feet).

Verdict

While many people, including myself, argue that Tokyo Tower is more iconic and photogenic than Tokyo Skytree, there is no match for height. Tokyo Skytree stands at 634 meters (2,080 feet), which is almost double the 333 metres (1,090 feet) of Tokyo Tower. 

Tokyo Tower’s highest observation deck is 250 metres (820 feet), while the Skytree’s is a tremendous 450 metres (1,480 feet) high. As a matter of comparison, Tokyo Skytree’s lowest observation deck is 350 metres (1,150 feet), taller than the entire Tokyo Tower, which is 333 metres (1,090 feet).

The first round of the Tokyo Sky tree vs Tokyo Tower battle goes to the Tokyo Skytree.

Side-by-side images of Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower against clear blue skies. On the left, Tokyo Skytree is captured from a low angle, showing its intricate lattice structure with sunlight creating a brilliant flare. On the right, Tokyo Tower is shown in its iconic red color, also viewed from below, emphasizing its unique architectural design and towering presence.
The towers offer completely different architectural designs.

Views and Photography

Both of these towers are a photographer’s dream. They are stunning to photograph from the ground, with the rest of the skyline behind them. From the top, they both offer jaw-dropping views of the huge metropolis below. But which one provides better views and photo ops? 

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree wins on height. You get an unmatched sense of Tokyo’s scale from the top observatory. The Skytree offers 360-degree panoramic views of the Kanto region. On a clear day, you can see up to 100 km (62 miles) away. At peak visibility, you can even spot Mt Fuji.

However, the height does have some drawbacks. Standing on top of the world can make everything else feel tiny. It’s hard to appreciate the rest of Tokyo’s skyline and modern architecture when everything is so small. 

The Tokyo Skytree is located near the traditional district of Asakusa. You can see popular tourist spots from the top, including the Sensoji temple and the Asahi Beer Hall. You can also see the Sumida River flowing through the city and watch as boats travel down the river.

The views from Tokyo Skytree are awe-inspiring and give you an almost birdseye view of the city. During the day, you can see as far as the horizon and get a sense of the scale of this humongous metropolis. However, at night, the city comes to life. From the top observatory, it looks like you are looking over a sea of twinkling white and red lights. Knowing that each light is from a building makes everything else appear minuscule.

One downside of photography from the Skytree is that the design of the building means you can never get too close to the glass. 

Putting your camera lens against the window stops you from capturing reflections and other lights. This is practically impossible at the Tokyo Skytree, which is rather annoying. This was most evident at the top observatory as the interior lights constantly reflected on the glass. However, if you are patient and creative, you can still capture plenty of remarkable photos.

In contrast, I found taking photos during the day much easier as there were fewer inside lights to compete with.

Tokyo Tower

While the Tokyo Tower is significantly smaller than the Tokyo Skytree, its views are no less marvellous.

Tokyo Tower is located in central Tokyo, offering a different perspective of the city. There are other tall skyscrapers in the area, and from the Tower observatory, you can get a better view of them and a more accurate sense of how high some of these other landmarks are.

Around the area of Tokyo Tower, there are many iconic places that you can spot:

  • One of the most popular views is of the Rainbow Bridge, which looks gorgeous at night. 
  • The impressive Zojoji Temple is near Tokyo Tower and starkly contrasts these two vastly different Japanese architectural structures. 
  • The recently opened Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower is also nearby. This new building is almost the same height as Tokyo Tower, and it almost looks imposing from this vantage point.

Unlike the Tokyo Skytree, the observatories of Tokyo Tower allow you to get closer to the windows. There are many points where you can put your camera right against the glass to capture the best photos possible. Because of this, it’s much easier to take high-quality photos, and I found that my pictures from Tower Tower are vastly superior to my Skytree pics. 

The day and night views from Tokyo Tower are spectacular and offer different views of this huge city. During the day, you can view nearby structures and admire Japan’s modern architectural achievements. At night, when Tokyo lights up, it comes alive. 

Because the Tokyo Tower observatory isn’t too high, you can see all the individual buildings, streets, and even vehicle lights. This gives you the best chance to see the downtown cityscape at night and admire the bustling streets below. 

Verdict

This might be a controversial decision, but I have to give this round to Tokyo Tower when it comes to views and photographyThis is a narrow victory for the original tower. 

Although Tokyo Skytree’s observatory is much higher and gives you an unmatched view, this is also somewhat detrimental. 

The Skytree is so high that you are looking down on everything, and it’s hard to appreciate the architecture. The sea of lights at night is beautiful, but it’s hard to tell what you are looking at sometimes. In comparison, Tokyo Tower isn’t as high. So, while you still get the sea of lights, you can identify the buildings and better understand what you are looking at.

For photographers, Tokyo Tower provides the best opportunity to capture stunning photos of the cityscape during the day and night. For Tokyo Skytree, you will need a camera with a powerful zoom lens to do the view justice.

It is now sitting at an even draw of 1-1.

Side-by-side aerial views of Tokyo from Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. The left image shows a panoramic view from Tokyo Skytree, capturing a vast urban landscape cut through by a wide river and extensive road networks, under clear skies. The right image, taken from Tokyo Tower during sunset, features a dense cluster of modern skyscrapers and smaller buildings, with soft sunlight casting a warm glow over the city.
Daytime views of Tokyo Skytree Vs Tokyo Tower.

Amenities and Attractions

Although the architectural design and the views from the towers are extremely important, you will be delighted to discover that the towers also offer a variety of attractions to keep you entertained. But which one will come out on top of this important third round of Tokyo Skytree Vs Tokyo Tower? 

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree receives visitors from all over the world, and it tries to help these overseas tourists by offering multilingual support.

At the information counters and at various points around the tower, there are free leaflet guides in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, French and Spanish. However, you can download this guide in 17 languages by visiting their official website

The signage and maps around the Skytree are also labelled in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. There is no official audio guide available at the Tokyo Skytree.

Tokyo Skytree has free WiFi for all visitors, however, you must register with an email address or social media account to activate it.

If you need some food after travelling to the top of Tokyo Skytree, a couple of choices are available. There are 2 Skytree Cafes on Floors 340 and 350. They sell some foods, including curry, Hamburg steak, fried chicken, cakes, and ice cream. There is also a variety of drinks, from tea and coffee to beer and wine.

Tokyo Skytree also has Sky Restaurant 634 on Floor 345. This upmarket restaurant serves set lunch and dinner courses, and guests must dress ‘smart casual.’ Sky Restaurant 634 takes bookings up to two months in advance.

The Skytree shop on Floor 345 offers a wide variety of merchandise, including keychains, magnets, pens, coasters, jigsaws, and Skytree models. They also sell souvenir food such as chocolates and cookies shaped like the Skytree. For children, there are plushies based on the Tokyo Skytree mascot Sorakara-chan.

Tokyo Skytree has priority elevators for people with needs. The Tembo Deck has three floors, each with an accessible toilet. The higher Tembo Galleria observatory also features an accessible toilet, although this floor spirals upwards, which may be difficult for some manual wheelchair users. Tokyo Skytree permits seeing-eye dogs, hearing assistance dogs, and service dogs.

Tokyo Skytree Town is located at the base of Tokyo Skytree. This is a massive shopping and entertainment complex featuring 300 shops and restaurants. Some of the standout stores for visitors are the wide range of character shops. 

  • There is a huge Pokemon Centre for all of your Pocket Monster needs. 
  • There is a Hello Kitty shop selling every type of Hello Kitty merchandise imaginable. 
  • Shonen Jump store covers a wide variety of anime merchandise from popular series such as Dragon Ball, Yugioh, One Piece, Naruto, and Demon Slayer. And finally, 
  • Skytree Town also has the Donguri Republic store, which specialises in everything Studio Ghibli.

Other popular attractions at Skytree Town are the Sumida Aquarium and the Planetarium. The Sumida Aquarium is a large modern space on the 5th and 6th floors. It houses over 10,000 sea creatures and features Japan’s largest open indoor tank. The huge Konica Minolta Planetarium is on the 7th floor of Tokyo Skytree Town. It is 18 metres wide and holds 220 people. 

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower has less language support, but all the signage, menus, and maps are in Japanese and English. There is also an official English guide, which can be downloaded from the website or scanned and accessed by QR code.

You will be given a free audio guide if you make your way up to the Top Deck. This guide is available in 13 languages, including English, Japanese, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indonesian. This audio tour offers history and panorama explanations to enhance the tour experience. 

If you feel peckish while visiting the Main Deck, you can pop by Café La Tour. They sell coffee, tea, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks like beer and wine. They specialise in soft-serve ice cream and sell various flavours and snacks like hot dogs and mixed nuts. There are no cafes or restaurants at the Top Deck.

Also on the Main Deck is the official Tokyo Tower gift shop, The Sky. This shop stocks over 300 different Tokyo Tower items. They sell all the typical gift shop products like fridge magnets, mugs, shot glasses, postcards, and T-shirts. They also have some exclusive items such as light-up models of Tokyo Tower and plushies featuring the Tokyo Tower mascots, The Noppon Brothers.

Tokyo Tower is accessible for visitors with wheelchairs. A barrier-free entrance leads to the elevator, which takes you to the 2nd floor of the Main Deck. To move between floors, you have to tell a nearby staff member. Five wheelchairs are also available.

There is an accessible toilet on the 2nd floor of the Main Deck and on the first and second floors of Foot Town. Visitors to Tokyo Tower may be accompanied by a guide, hearing assistance, or service dogs.

At the bottom of Tokyo Tower is Foot Town. This is an entertainment complex comprising shops, restaurants, VR gaming, and more. The second floor of Foot Town has a food court with a variety of restaurants, including Mos Burger and Pizza-la. If you want some noodles, Uemiya specialises in ramen, and Sake Diamond Cafe sells udon and soba.

Foot Town also features several stores selling great Japanese souvenirs and gifts. 

  • Tokio 333 sells a wide range of exclusive Hello Kitty merchandise and popular souvenir foods like Tokyo Banana and Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory. 
  • Tokyo Print Kobo sells T-shirts, keychains, magnets, and other items themed around Japanese imagery of kanji, art, and geisha. 
  • There is also a Ninja Pro Shop selling ninja-themed foods and gifts. 

A top-rated attraction at Foot Town is Red Tokyo Tower. This is the largest VR/AR/eSports theme park in Japan, sprawling over four floors, and is a great experience for everyone, from families to solo travellers. 

Red Tokyo Tower allows you to try VR games like Kat Walk and Beat Saber. There are VR shooting games and VR racing simulators to test out your skills. There are popular retro games like Street Fighter and Pacman. And there are even some traditional Japanese and international board games.

Verdict 

Although Red Tokyo Tower is a great attraction, and some interesting shops carry unique Japanese gifts at Foot Town, the battle for the best Amenities and Attractions of Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower has to go to Tokyo Skytree.

When it comes to shopping, dining, and attractions, Tokyo Skytree Town trumps Tokyo Tower’s Foot Town. It’s a much larger complex with a wider variety of stores and restaurants. 

Another bonus is Tokyo Skytree has a restaurant and two cafes at the top, which are great for relaxing and having a bite to eat. Tokyo Tower only has one small cafe, which doesn’t sell as many items or offer the same seated views. 

Tokyo Skytree is now leading 2-1 in the battle of the giants.

Side-by-side nighttime views of Tokyo from Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. On the left, the view from Tokyo Skytree highlights a sprawling cityscape illuminated by thousands of lights with Tokyo Tower glowing prominently in orange amidst darker surroundings. On the right, the view from Tokyo Tower showcases a dense cluster of brightly lit skyscrapers, streets, and buildings, creating a vibrant tapestry of urban life against the dark night sky.
Nighttime views of Tokyo Skytree Vs Tokyo Tower.

Location and How to Get There

Although both iconic landmarks are in Tokyo, this is one huge metropolis. The towers are 13km (8 miles) apart, but where exactly are they?

Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is in the Sumida City Ward of Tokyo. This is close to the popular destination Asakusa. 

It’s incredibly easy to get to Tokyo Skytree using the Tokyo train system. Tokyo Skytree Station and Oshiage Station are part of Tokyo Skytree Town, meaning you don’t have to leave the station to walk there. 

Tokyo Skytree Station is on the Tobu Skytree Line. It takes three minutes to travel from Asakusa Station to Tokyo Skytree Station and thirteen minutes to travel from Kita-Senju Station to Tokyo Skytree Station.

Oshiage Station is on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and the Toei Asakusa Line. Take the Yamanote Line from Shinjuku Station for 20 minutes to Shinagawa Station, then switch to the Keikyu Main Line and ride it for 26 minutes to Oshiage Station. 

If you are heading from Tokyo Station, use the Sobu Rapid Line to Kinshicho Station, which takes eight minutes, then switch to the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line and ride for three minutes to Oshiage Station. 

For other attractions at Tokyo Skytree, the Sumida River is nearby and offers a peaceful walk and a look at the unique skyline across the water. 

The ever-popular area of Asakusa is a short walk from Tokyo Skytree. Here, you can feel the history of old Tokyo. There are temples, shrines, traditional craft shops, and street food stalls to explore. Senso-ji Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and one of the most visited. Hanayashiki is a small amusement park in Asakusa and one of the oldest in all of Japan.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower is located in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo. Minato is one of the 23 special awards of Tokyo.

The easiest way to get to Tokyo Tower is to use the subway or train system. Tokyo Tower has several stations nearby, all within a 15-minute walk.

  • Akabanebashi Station is on the Subway Oedo Line. From Akabanebashi Gate, the tower is a five minute walk. 
  • Kamiyacho Station is on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. From Exit No. 1 it is a seven minute walk. 
  • Onarimon Station is on the Metropolitan Subway Mita Line, from Exit No. A1, the Tower is a six minute walk.
  • Daimon Station is on the Metropolitan Subway Asakusa Line. Take Exit No. A6 and walk for 10 minutes.

If you are looking for other things to do near Tokyo Tower, the famous Zojoji Temple is a short walk. This is one of the most important and largest Buddhist temples in Tokyo and offers a contrasting view of the temple with the Tokyo Tower standing tall in the back. 

Another peaceful location nearby is Shiba Park. This free park is great for relaxing while surrounded by greenery and soaking in the views of the tower. 

The new Azabudai Hills complex is a 12-minute walk from Tokyo Tower. Azabudai Hills is a modern urban village featuring over 150 shops for fashion, art, food, and wellness. 

  • The Manga Art Heritage Gallery is perfect for anime and manga fans as it displays art from One Piece and Bleach. 
  • The main attraction of Azabudai Hills is the hugely popular TeamLab Borderless. This massive digital art museum must be seen to be believed.

Verdict

Tokyo Skytree Town has two stations built on to it and it’s near the traditional town of Asakusa, but this battle still has to go to Tokyo Tower.

The iconic Tokyo Tower is in a great central location and is very quick and easy to access from places like Ginza, Roppongi, Akihabara and Odaiba. From Shinjuku Station, Tokyo Tower is about 25 minutes and Tokyo Skytree is about 40 minutes. From Tokyo Station, Tokyo Tower is about 20 minutes and Tokyo Skytree is about 30 minutes.

It’s also easier to get to nearby attractions in Azabudai or Roppongi if you want to pair it up with another attraction, such as TeamLab Borderless.

Tokyo Tower has clawed its way to a comeback, with this fierce showdown now sitting at 2-2.

Side-by-side images of Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower taken from street level during the day. The left image features Tokyo Skytree towering over urban buildings with a motorcyclist passing by, under a clear sky. The right image shows Tokyo Tower, painted in vibrant red, standing tall among green trees with empty city streets in the foreground, highlighted by the soft glow of sunset.
Views of the full structures captured from nearby streets.

Pros and Cons

Before choosing between the towers, it should be noted that they have a range of pros and cons. Both towers have advantages and disadvantages, but how do they compare against one another? 

Tokyo Skytree

Pros:

  • The tallest Tower in Japan.
  • It’s built on to the massive Tokyo Skytree Town.
  • It has a restaurant and two cafes at the top.
  • The observatory offers a view of all of Tokyo, giving you a great sense of scale. 

Cons:

  • It’s not in a central location.
  • It’s hard to take photos of the view from the top without the inside light reflections.
  • It is often very busy with tourists. Windows can be crowded at times, and there can be lines for elevators. 

Tokyo Tower

Pros:

  • It is in a central location. It’s easy to travel to from many areas.
  • The tower offers a great view of nearby skyscrapers and architecture.
  • It’s easy to take photos of the view from the top observatories.
  • Tokyo Tower is not as busy as Tokyo Skytree. It makes for a more relaxing experience overall.

Cons:

  • It only has one small cafe at the top and has a limited variety of food. 
  • The observatory is not as high if you want to see all of Tokyo from above. 
  • There are not as many shops or restaurants in Foot Town as in Tokyo Skytree Town.
Side-by-side nighttime images of Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. On the left, Tokyo Skytree is illuminated in bright blue light, captured from a nearby street that also reflects its glow. On the right, Tokyo Tower shines in vibrant red with intricate lighting details, surrounded by the dark silhouettes of nearby buildings, creating a dramatic and colorful night scene.
Both of the towers light up at night and stand out from their surroundings.

The Final Result

The Tokyo Tower vs Tokyo Skytree battle is over. We’ve examined the pros and cons of all the different aspects. And… It’s a very closely contested fight.

Tokyo Skytree is the tallest of the two towers and offers unparalleled views of the whole city. Tokyo Skytree Town offers visitors much more than Tokyo Tower’s Foot Town.

However, Tokyo Tower is in a more central location, which makes it easier to travel to. Plus, there are other large structures nearby which you get a great view of from the observatory.

If I had to pick a winner, I would go with Tokyo Tower.

It was a tough decision, and I enjoyed both almost equally. However, Tokyo Tower is more iconic to me because it’s been featured in Japanese media for a long time. 

I also prefer the views from the top as it’s not as high and you can appreciate the city’s architecture. It’s also easier to take photos at Tokyo Tower observatories as you can get closer to the glass windows with your camera to cancel out the reflections. Finally, as it’s in central Tokyo, there is so much other stuff to see and do in the area.

The main positive at Tokyo Skytree, which almost swayed the decision, was the cafes and restaurants near the top. My favourite part of the Skytree experience was sitting at the window, enjoying a cake and coffee, and soaking in the view of the city. Tokyo Skytree Town also offers so much for visitors and could take up half of your day exploring this shopping and entertainment complex.

I encourage you to visit both if you have the time and the funds. They are completely different experiences, from their architectural design to their breathtaking views of Japan’s busy capital. Both offer a fantastic experience and are a great addition to any Tokyo itinerary.

Tokyo Tower Tickets
  • Klook offers the option for all ticket options, including Main Deck, Top Deck or a Main Deck Unlimited Pass (a great option if you want to view both during the day and at night time)
  • Get Your Guide and Viator offer only Main Deck Tickets
Tokyo Skytree Tickets
  • Check out the views from the tallest building in Japan.
  • See the Tokyo cityscape from a perspective that no other tower can offer.
  • Lots of different ticket options available.
Promotional Pinterest graphic comparing Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. The image features nighttime shots of both towers with Tokyo Tower lit in red on the left and Tokyo Skytree in blue on the right. Text overlays present a 'Tale of the Tape' including height, year opened, and location: Tokyo Tower at 333 meters, opened in 1958 in Minato, and Tokyo Skytree at 634 meters, opened in 2012 in Sumida. The heading reads 'Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower - Which is Right for You?' with JapanTravelPlanning.com branding.
Tokyo Skytree vs Tokyo Tower – Pinterest Image

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