While Tokyo Tower may now be dwarfed in popularity as well as size by Tokyo Skytree, there are still plenty of reasons to visit the older Tokyo Tower instead, particularly this summer. There are two illumination events happening every night until September 3rd 2017. Better yet, there is no extra admission fee; you simply need to buy the typical 900 yen ticket and you can see both events included.
On the first floor observatory, you can find the Milky Way Illuminations. While lovely, the Milky Way Illuminations do pale slightly in comparison so you may prefer to walk down to the first observatory to see that before walking back up to explore Summer Light Fantasia. However, the former is less crowded, and you can also find a small cafe where you can enjoy drinks or snacks while relaxing and watching the Milky Way lights. The real highlight is the second-floor observatory. Here you will find a stunning projection mapping show called the Tokyo Tower Summer Light Fantasia by NAKED, who are also responsible for the fantastic Tokyo Art City exhibit that is running this summer.
Only one side of the tower is left untouched by the image mapping, which allows for better night views. On the other three sides, three different sets of images are projected onto the ground. The first one that greets you as you step off the elevator is a seaside theme. Here you will find glowing blue water lapping at your heels, and combined with soothing ocean sounds, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually at the beach. After a minute or so of waves, the scene changes to the ocean and its inhabitants, with different animals featured with each playthrough. My favorite was the giant whale sharks that swam from the center outward, and you can also find jellyfish and dolphins.
Next is a Northern Lights theme with a modern twist; you can find the typical curves of the Northern Lights but crystalline and geometric shapes as well. I found myself occasionally just watching the lights instead of the projected images; looking up at the lights dancing above you, you can almost feel like you’re watching the real Northern Lights.
The final section is the real highlight. Here you can find fireworks projected both on the floor and on the windows as well as sunflowers and constellations. The area is reminiscent of a stained glass window, and it is great fun to watch the shapes and colors change.
All three sections are stunning, and I found myself making numerous laps around the observation deck as the images constantly change. It’s easy to lose time there watching the image mapping as you find new details that you missed each time the loop repeats. Of course, at 150 meters up, the view is amazing as well, and you will not be disappointed by the spectacular night views. Still, the events make Tokyo Tower all the more special, and the projection mapping is well worth the cost of admission.
The illuminations start every day from 7:00am until 10:50pm. Tokyo Tower is easy to access as it is walking distance from five different stations. The closest, Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Line, is only a few minutes away but JR pass holders may prefer Hamamatsucho, which is 15-minute walk away.
If you want to extend your visit, Tokyo Tower also includes a One Piece theme park and cafe, a rooftop beer garden, and a summer haunted house. Tokyo Tower is well worth a visit, as the illuminations are charming and magical and a great way to spend an evening surrounded by mystic charm and beauty.