Japan Today

Tokyo Skytree’s disappointing attendance so far: 6.19 million visitors

By Casey Baseel

Tokyo’s two most compelling yet conflicting traits, the energy from its sheer number of residents and the solitude of its back alleys, are both best appreciated from ground level. The metropolis’ scale can only truly be appreciated from high above, though, which is why Tokyo has no fewer than five major observation decks within the city limits.

As the newest and tallest of the group, Tokyo Skytree, which opened in the spring of 2012, is by far the most prestigious of the group, and it has quickly become a more vibrant symbol of Japan’s capital than Tokyo Tower itself. But even with the millions of visitors the Skytree saw last year, the attendance was still below what was expected.

This isn’t to say no one’s been coming to Tokyo’s tallest land mark. During its 2013 fiscal year, 6.19 million guests made the trip to one of the Skytree’s two observation decks, located at heights of 350 and 450 meters.

That figure is even more impressive when you take into account the 40 days for which the observation floors were closed due to inclement weather. Nevertheless, operators had hoped for even higher attendance, and the final tally of 6.19 million guests was still some 250,000 below the original forecast.

All those weather-induced zero-attendance days don’t seem to be to blame, either. While the Skytree’s observation decks were only closed 25 times during its first year of operations, the per-day average attendance of 17,000 in 2013 was roughly 1,000 less than in 2012.

To an extent, a drop-off in visitors is probably to be expected. After years of news stories chronicling the Skytree’s construction, which was delayed by two-months following the massive earthquake in 2011, there was so much pent-up anticipation that it seemed like the whole country flocked to the tower when it finally opened. However, much of the excitement and novelty has passed, and while Tokyo, like any large city, is always growing and changing, the surrounding area doesn’t look particularly different today from 350 meters up than it did two years ago.

In light of this, even lower attendance is predicted for this year, with just slightly less than six million guests forecasted, which is still double the attendance that Tokyo Tower can expect. The Skytree’s operators would like to stop the downward slide, though, and are hoping to drum up interest for Tokyo’s highest observation decks by holding seasonal events to draw in repeat visitors, plus focusing more marketing and advertising on foreign visitors, particularly from China and Southeast Asia.

Sadly, the management has yet to announce any scaling back of the 3,600 yen ticket fee for a trip to the Skytree’s highest observation floor.

Sources: Jin, NHK News Web

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3,600 yen ticket fee

I can think of many better ways to spend that

20 ( +23 / -4 )

the energy from its sheer number of residents

I think anyone that has to deal with Tokyo in rush hour or on a public holiday would vehemently disagree. Overcrowded, yes. Madness? Definitely!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

GobshiteMAY. 09, 2014 - 07:15AM JST 3,600 yen ticket fee I can think of many better ways to spend that

Exaxtly !!!!! It;s only a tower with shops around it. . . . nothing really consuminly interesting about that !

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Sadly, the management has yet to announce any scaling back of the 3,600 yen ticket fee for a trip to the Skytree’s highest observation floor.

doesn't matter, it's free, it's there at the background of morning tv weather report.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder, considering that many if not most 6th grade elementary school class trips involve going to Tokyo and the obligatory going up Skytree, if you took those out, just how many visitors would there actually be?

Did the management really think that people were going to willingly fork over 3600 yen for merely getting a bird's eye view of the city indefinitely?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Web ticketing is possible only with Japan issued credit card and only in Japanese! I gave up as I do not want to waste a full day waiting at the 4th floor without knowing when I can go up. And that has been the case for all my friends visiting me in Tokyo.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I tried to visit the Tokyo SkyTree on my last trip to Japan this past September. It seems that SkyTree is not welcoming to foreign tourists, as Tokyo SkyTree's website does not have an online booking system in any language other than Japanese. When we attempted to go, it appeared that people had to line up for time slots just to buy tickets... unfortunately all of this information was in Japanese. I think the fact that SkyTree is not welcoming to foreigners in this way is one of the major reasons why the attendance is lower than expected.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

They missed their forecast by 4%. Not as bad as this headline makes it out to be.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

4% off forecast, you could make a lot of money being 4% off a forecast article is non-issue thank you JT for wasting my time

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My family and I went in Sept last year and there was a 2-3 hour wait. We didn't hang around, so many other things to do than wait around.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Never found the Skytree even remotely interested and it was actually the first time I heard the ticketprice. Ill stick with the Tokyo Tower.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Save your money. Go to Tokyo Tower at a fraction of a cost (820 yen). You got money left over for a dinner for two and a beer. You will see the same thing, but little closer and clearer.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Perhaps they had planned on more Chinese tourists? Thanks, Ishihara-san.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

To each his/her own, but I just don't get the fascination. Give me a cool mountain stream and a campfire any day.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Tokyo Metropolitan Building = Free. Barely any line ups.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The Burj Khalifa’s ticket price is similar to Tokyo Skytree - but there is also a fast track option of around ¥11000.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It seems that SkyTree is not welcoming to foreign tourists

I don't know about the online reservation, but actually at the tower there's plenty of assistance in many languages. I speak Japanese fine but my mother doesn't, many staff members offered help with everything to her in English.

The key to going is to not go at a peak time. Then it's perfectly easy to get a ticket without an obscene wait.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Both towers are out of place in terms of the character of their surroundings.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo Skytree’s disappointing attendance so far

Gee wouldn't have anything to do with the steep price would it? Drop the price to 1,000 yen or even a bargin 500yen for a few weeks and maybe they'll see the difference in numbers for themselves.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It seems many here have not gone, so I'd like to share my experience and honest opinion :

The best time to go is in the morning on a weekday. Take a paid holiday if needed. I went at around 9:30 on a Thursday. There was no line, no wait. Around 11 am is when all the tour buses come, so try to go before then. The best season is in winter (fewer rainy days). The view is fantastic. You can see the buildings of Shinjuku, Mount Fuji, Disneyland, quite possibly your own house. The view from 450 meters is not that different from 350 meters. I do not recommend going all the way to the top. Just going to the big observation deck at 350 meters will cost you only 2060 yen. It's definitely worth going once. There is also plenty of shopping to do in Soramachi. Lots of interesting souvenir shops and very good restaurants. I recommend the "toriton" sushi restaurant.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I've seen it, photographed it, pointed it out to my daughter on her first trip to Japan, and her only comment mirrored my own - "What's the point, other than the broadcast tower on the top? Seen one, seen 'em all." SkyTree is terribly over-rated, not only terribly over-priced.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

On a perfect day, in the winter when its pretty clear, the view is average. You can get a good view of Kinshicho and Asakusa. Too far away from the interesting parts of Tokyo, and there are many tall buildings you can go up for less (even free as mentioned above) in more interesting parts of Tokyo.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

With that ridiculous price, I definitely won't be adding to the visitor total.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

They may be a little lower, but the twin observation towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building (Tocho) are free. What's more,they are in the otherwise interesting Shinjuku district, as opposed to the Sumida cultural desert.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The processes in place make it too difficult for foreigners and some Japanese to attend. The costs are prohibitive, the daily limits are frustrating, and it's just a headache. I would have loved to have given them my money to go up to the top when I was visiting a couple of years ago but it just wasn't worth the hassle after the first few attempts. Nothing wrong with the tower itself, just some really obvious issues with the execution.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Been there, done that! 15 to 20.000 yen for a couple, if you include the parking and something to eat. It is not a bad way to kill a couple of hours if you happen to be driving by, like I did. It was a very clear day in April and ended up with some really nice pictures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What a rip off!

I'm only going if someone pays for me.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I would think about going if it was free...but for 3,600 I'd rather get tanked up doing nomihodai somewhere else.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Can't recall how often the viewing platform was closed due to bad weather, strong winds or other reason but it seems like every other week.

For the same money you can get quiet a bit more out of sunshine 60/City, love to chow down on Gyoza in Namjatown.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe the extremely high ticket price and the long waits are more disappointing.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Who wants to pay that much? It's not the 60s anymore we got Google maps now.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Advance reservations through "TOKYO SKYTREE Web Ticket (The link will be in Japanese only)" with the day/time assigned.

this pasted from official SkyTree web site.

Would have thought with all the effort and thought put into making it quake and typhoon proof they could keep this mammoth open 365 days a year. Looks like they should have taken a fraction of that time and effort and put a little more into their website ticket page adding some other language options as many foreigners aren't be able to use as is. And if the things sways so much during severe weather they can have a warning, "Beware that this tower may sway in windy conditions and can cause motion sickness to some people" and have a meter in the ticket purchase area. I'd love to be up there when that thing is whipping side to side. They could also try adding a bungy jump or tethered walk-around the outer edge. That would be far better that anything at Disney Land! They may also consider leaving the thing open later than 10pm, at least until midnight to get the drunks leaving all the izakayas in the area. I remember that Tokyo Tower would close at 7pm but I see it's now 22:00, didn't want to be outdone by SkyTree I guess. Can't wait to see what lame ideas they come up with to lure more visitors.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

over 6 million in 300 days. that is about 20,000 a day. aoart from the price queuing and waiting and milling around with that many people in this small space is enough reason to avoid it

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tokyo Metropolitan Building = great view, not so crowded, free, close to Shinjuku. Mori Tower = not free, but I usually combine it with a visit to the art museum. Ikebukuro Sunshine Tower = Joe's Shanghai restaurant offers a great view. Lunch menu is very affordable.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sorry, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but 3,600 yen for a chance to peek out some windows 450 meters above Tokyo is a relatively ridiculous luxury.

Sunshine 60 Height: 226m Cost: 620 yen Roppongi Hills Sky Deck Height: 238m Cost: 2,000 yen Tokyo Tower: Height: 250m Cost: (soon to be) 1,600 yen Tokyo Metro Gov't Observatory Height: 202m Cost: Free

Yes, I understand Sky Tree is twice the height, thus creating a seemingly justifiable price tag double that of competitors. But it's a one-trick pony, like the slowly dying Huis Ten Bosch, the Dutch theme park in Nagasaki. Once you visit, there's really no need to come back. Which means all the repeat buisness that most other attractions rely on to boost those visitor numbers above and beyond the one-timers all but dries us. With ridiculously long lines, a la anything advertised as worth seeing in Tokyo, 3,600-yen pricetag certainly isn't going to help the situation.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

kickboard, excellent information. I had pretty much the same experience. If you just plan it right and actually look at the details, it doesn't take all day, and it doesn't cost 3600 yen. And there IS good food to be found, and some fun shopping on the upper floors of the shopping mall. I was a SkyTree basher before I made the trip; now I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who was interested.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

No sympathy. Lower the ticket costs. Why Japan Inc. needs to inflate costs so much is a mystery. Lower them and you'll get more visitors, more movie-goers, more pizza orders, etc., and all the profits will surpass the profits from jacked up ticket costs.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Just ridiculous!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You can also take a special elevator the 33rd I think floor for free and get a pretty spectacular view.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks for the tips. Now I know how to better spend my 3,600 yen.

I hope they consider lowering the price, otherwise they won't be attracting first-time visitors, let alone repeat ones. Maybe they can expect an increase when the Tokyo Olympics comes around, but that's in another 6 years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

At some point, the Skytree is only going to draw school trips and tourists. I'd say most of the locals who have an interest in going up have done so by now and, like the article said, the view doesn't change much from up there so there's normally no reason to go a second time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lower the admission price or offer some more discounts and more people will come up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sound like the majority has spoken. It is too pricey! Customers always right.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What! The tourist attractions in Japan are only in Japanese? In New York the greatest tourist trap is Times Square, and it is all in English, and the other Tourist Trap on 34th street, the building that Superman jumped over, is ,also, only in English. In the US we complain that people come here and "don't speak English", but we feel that we have the right to go overseas and don't know the language of the country that we want to infringe on. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You come to my country and don't speak English.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

what's the incentive to go again? In my home town of Toronto we have the CN Tower that I've been up in my life maybe five times. That's apparently a lot. My feeling is that eventually the locals will get bored of the Skytree or having done it will have no desire to do it again. Tokyo Tower is a much better deal and may have the last laugh

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tokyo Sky Tree is a tourist site in disguise.... its primary function is a transmission tower. From the official site: "The major role of TOKYO SKYTREE is transmission of digital terrestrial broadcasting. Digital terrestrial broadcasting has already been in use since December 2003 in the Kanto area, but due to the many tall buildings rising over 200m high in central Tokyo, it has become necessary to build a new tower higher than 600m for broadcasting transmission purposes." Visitors are duped into paying for the construction of this "architectural symbol" of Tokyo. A scheme thought up by un imaginative marketers. At least other cities had the good sense to hire the right designers (St. Louis arch, Eiffel Tower, Space Needle)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is just not that elegant. I prefer Tokyo Tower. It nicer at night and it has a history. Tokyo tower marks the coming of Japan after the war. Sky Tree is just a broadcast tower. It doesn't symbolize anything. It may be it's colors but Tokyo Tower seems warm and inviting and Sky Tree seems cold and sterile. Maybe it does symbolize modern Japan as a cold and unfriendly place as compare to the 1950's and 1960's of Japan. But give me Godzilla and Tokyo Tower!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What! The tourist attractions in Japan are only in Japanese? In New York the greatest tourist trap is Times Square, and it is all in English, and the other Tourist Trap on 34th street, the building that Superman jumped over, is ,also, only in English. In the US we complain that people come here and "don't speak English", but we feel that we have the right to go overseas and don't know the language of the country that we want to infringe on. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. You come to my country and don't speak English.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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