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Crashing Japan
The Tokyo Tower in Anime

by Bamboo Dong,

Tokyo Tower is to Japanese monster flicks as the White House is to American ones—if something is going to be destroyed, that's the landmark that's first to go. Needless to say, it's a pretty big deal, and one of the most recognizable structures in Tokyo.

About the Tower Designed after the Eiffel Tower, it's actually the tallest man-made structure in Japan. Not just a pretty thing for tourists to stare at, it also functions as a support for an antenna that broadcasts both digital radio and digital TV signals, used by notable stations like NHK, TV Asahi, and TV Tokyo. There are two observation decks as well, with the highest one giving visitors a view of Mt. Fuji on extremely clear days. The tower also hosts a variety of exhibits and shops—in Foot Town, at the base of the tower, visitors can peruse the aquarium or find something to eat in the various restaurants. There's also a wax museum, an optical art gallery, a museum of Guinness World Records, a “trick art gallery,” and a small amusement park.

Somewhat disturbingly, Tokyo Tower has two mascots called the Noppon Brothers. Supposedly twins, the older one sports blue overalls, while the younger one prefers red. They're usually seen lurking about the premises, and travelers seeking unusual souvenirs will find Noppon Brothers toys scattered about the various stores.

Cameos in Anime If you've watched any anime at all, chances are, you know what the Tokyo Tower looks like. It's orange and white, and it looks like the Eiffel Tower. Because of its clear association with the city, it's used often as a visual landmark, and also as a convenient place for characters to go and sullenly muse about life.

Here's some notable series you may have spotted this beauty in:

  • Air Gear – The first thing you see in the opening sequence is an upwards shot of the Tower, ending with a shot of Ikki perched on the observatory.
  • Gantz – The characters may have been trapped in a mysterious apartment in Tokyo, but they could see the city's beloved landmark.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth – The girls are enjoying a nice, quiet time on one of the observation decks when they're whisked away to Cephiro for the first time.
  • Please Save My Earth – For those old enough to remember this show, it's hard to forget Rin's plant to use Tokyo Tower to broadcast radio signals to the moon.
  • Sailor Moon – Because the series takes place in the same neighborhood as the tower, it's visible in almost every episode.
  • X/1999 – Who doesn't remember the epic battle between Kamui and Fuma atop this tower? They meet for another showdown in the X TV series.

Visiting the Tower

Tokyo Tower is a must-see tourist destination for anyone visiting Japan. Unfortunately, much of it is covered in netting at the moment-- every five years, it needs to be re-painted in its characteristic orange and white (to satisfy aviation safety rules). This puts a bit of a damper on any wishes to have an unmarred, 360 degree view of Tokyo. Luckily, for another 600JPY, you can go up to the special observation deck, which was blissfully uncovered. It's the same view, but from a much higher vantage point, and frankly, it's worth it. On clear days, you can see as far as Mt. Fuji, but even if it's a bit cloudy, there's still plenty of exciting landmarks to check out.

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