July 26 - When I arrived in Tokyo to begin my assignment in July 2008, I heard that construction on a new television tower near Asakusa had just begun. I was not sure what to think about this project and wondered how this new 634-meter tower would fit into the warm and friendly "Shitamachi" atmosphere in that neighborhood. Also, I had always been fond of Tokyo Tower and felt a small amount of jealousy that the Sky Tree would soon surpass Tokyo's landmark symbol in height.
Over the past three years, I have visited Asakusa frequently and have begun to notice the Tokyo Sky Tree rising slowly above the surrounding buildings in Oshiage. Each time I visited, the tower had grown to tower a bit more over the neighborhood.
Recently I decided to visit Oshiage to examine this project up close. I found a construction site bustling with energy. Trucks lined up to deliver supplies and equipment, and construction workers scurried about the worksite. Sounds of hammering, welding and connecting steel with rivets lent an air of energy and excitement to the scene.
Several fathers had brought their small boys to observe the construction project. I could not tell who was more excited, the Dads or their small sons. Looking upward, we could barely see the television antenna at the very top of the tower.
Before I visited this project, it had seemed to me a bit audacious. But that day I realized that the ambition and optimism that fueled this project is precisely what Tokyo needs right now. I look forward to returning next year when the Sky Tree opens to the public and I can ride to the observation deck to look down upon Tokyo's cityscape.
Until next time,