Completed in 1958, the Tokyo Tower represented the state of mind that Japan was holding on to at the time. The country was going through a postwar boom and they wanted to prove that they can be an economic powerhouse. This meant that the construction of the tower served not just a practical purpose, but also a symbolic one.
At its core, the tower came about because Japan’s public broadcasting station, the NHK, started broadcasting for television in 1953. A large enough communications tower that could cover the entire Kanto region was necessary, and so plans for building the Tokyo Tower began.
Tachu Naito created designs based on the Eiffel Tower -- but with a much brighter color scheme to comply with aviation safety laws. Reflective of Japan’s postwar ambitions, Hisakichi Maeda, the founder of the company that runs the Tokyo Tower, was quoted as saying, “If we’re going to make it tall, we should make it the tallest.” And indeed, the completed Tokyo Tower stood at 13 meters taller than the Parisian counterpart that inspired it.
Despite having lost its “tallest tower” status some time ago, the Tokyo Tower continues to achieve milestones that only expands its history. 2008 marked its 50th anniversary; in 2013, the tower achieved a record of 170 million visitors. This year, the company that owns Tokyo Tower worked alongside other Japanese companies to bring the famous landmark 100 years into the future through virtual reality, or VR.
In “Virtual Tokyo Tower”, you can “visit” and interact with the Tokyo landmark through virtual reality. Visitors are transported to an ultra-modern version of the tower, and can experience 360° panoramic views of its main deck and top deck against an iridescent Tokyo.
Visitors can also interact with others who are in the tower at the same time, and there will be virtual shops where real items can be bought and sent to their homes.
Officially “opening” on Nov 1, Virtual Tokyo Tower will be accessible to anyone with a VR device, PC, or smartphone. Although creating an account to access the virtual tower is free, it will cost 800 yen to go to the observation deck. There is also a separate download required that will allow for virtual interactions with other visitors.
Further details and announcements can be found on the event website.