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TOKYO SKYTREE Multi-Camera Control System—Interview with Masatoki Morito of TOBU TOWER SKYTREE Co., Ltd. and Keiji Kobayashi of NOMURA Co., Ltd.

Masatoki Morito

Keiji Kobayashi

TOKYO SKYTREE® went into operation on May 22, 2012, as a broadcasting tower for digital terrestrial broadcasting and as a general tourist facility designed to promote local development. At a height of 634 meters, it is currently the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower*1 in the world. TOKYO SKYTREE was entered in the Guinness World RecordsTM as the "world's tallest tower" on November 17, 2011.

A multi-camera control system from Nikon Systems Inc. has been installed on one of TOKYO SKYTREE's observation levels for the purpose of photographing and filming the spectacular panoramic view of Tokyo. This system has been photographing the 360° panoramic view continuously since TOKYO SKYTREE went into operation.

Regarding the Multi-Camera Control System and how it was introduced, we spoke with the man in charge of the project, Masatoki Morito of TOBU TOWER SKYTREE Co., Ltd. and Keiji Kobayashi of NOMURA Co., Ltd.

  • *1Free-standing broadcasting tower: a broadcasting tower constructed from the ground up, as opposed to a structure built onto the upper stories of a high-rise building. Another type is the "cable-stayed" broadcasting tower, which is supported by cables.

The world's preeminent broadcasting tower

Please describe the functions of TOKYO SKYTREE.


Morito: One of TOKYO SKYTREE's functions is digital terrestrial broadcasting. Due to an increase in the number of buildings of around 200 meters in height in central Tokyo, there was a rising number of areas in which it was difficult to receive a signal. This necessitated the construction of a broadcasting tower that could transmit signals from higher up.

Another function of TOKYO SKYTREE is to revitalize the Shitamachi*2 area around Oshiage in Sumida Ward, in which the tower is located. TOKYO SKYTREE is not simply an ordinary broadcasting tower—it was built with the aim of boosting the entire district.

  • *2"Shitamachi" is the traditional name for the area of Tokyo along and east of the Sumida River.

Why was the Oshiage area chosen in preference to other candidate areas?

Morito: TOKYO SKYTREE was constructed on the former site of a freight depot on the Tobu Isesaki Line between Narihirabashi Station*3 and Oshiage Station. There were a number of compelling factors in the selection of this site: it was clear who the operator was; it was possible to secure a relatively large area of land; the site is adjacent to the Shitamachi neighborhood and renowned tourist area of Asakusa; and the location enjoys good transportation links, including easy access from both Narita and Haneda airports. Further impetus to select this location came from the enormous support and cooperation received from the government and the residents of both Sumida and Taito wards.

A major commercial complex called TOKYO Solamachi®*4 houses numerous shops and tourist facilities that are based on the concept of a "new Shitamachi style," and which enable the visitor to fully experience the charm of Shitamachi. We want people who visit—from both Japan and overseas—to experience the atmosphere and charm of Shitamachi.

  • *3This is now known as TOKYO SKYTREE Station. The line that runs from Tobu Dobutsu Koen Station to Asakusa Station and Oshiage Station is also known as the Tobu Skytree line.
  • *4TOKYO Solamachi® is a registered trademark of TOBU TOWER SKYTREE Co., Ltd.

TOKYO SKYTREE is intriguing in appearance, isn't it?

Morito: TOKYO SKYTREE's name evokes the image of a tree stretching up toward the sky. The design of TOKYO SKYTREE (with a cross-section in the shape of an equilateral triangle at the lowest levels that gradually changes into a circular cross-section as the tower rises) is evocative of the curvature that is evident in the design of a Japanese sword and the camber-shaped design of the pillars used in the construction of shrines and temples. A design was required that would make use of the latest technology, yet would blend in with the Shitamachi landscape.

The internal design concept also appears to incorporate various ingenious schemes.

Morito: With a total height of 634 meters, TOKYO SKYTREE boasts two observation levels: TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO DECK, at a height of 350 meters, and TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO GALLERIA, at a height of 450 meters.

Each level encompasses a particular theme (the culture of Edo-era Shitamachi on the first floor, modern-day Tokyo on TEMBO DECK, and outer space and the future in TEMBO GALLERIA), such that visitors experience the sensation that space-time is expanding as they travel up the tower. TOKYO SKYTREE is based around the idea that every visitor should enjoy a sense of going from the past to the future, from Shitamachi out to the rest of the world, and the feeling that time and space are expanding.

Since TOKYO SKYTREE is so tall, aren't there concerns over earthquakes and strong winds, such as those experienced during a typhoon?

The scene on the first floor offers the Edo-era feel of Shitamachi

Morito: In fact, the seismic control system incorporates vibration-suppression techniques that were employed in Japanese construction in ancient times. The TOKYO SKYTREE structure consists of two part—a steel-frame tower body and a center column at the core—built independently. The center column stabilizes the main structure to reduce swaying during high winds and earthquakes. A five-story pagoda is also stabilized with a center column (shinbashira). SKYTREE calls this damping mechanism "shimbashira vibration control." The foundation piles for TOKYO SKYTREE have also been driven 50 meters down into solid ground, so the foundations provide solid support.

What did your work involve?

Morito: I have been working in connection with TOKYO SKYTREE since promotional activities began in 2004, and have been in charge of activities such as production of displays. The TOKYO SKYTREE concept is to allow people to enjoy the wonderful view and to enable visitors from all over the world to experience Japanese culture and the culture of Shitamachi. I was involved in considering (on the basis of this concept) how high TOKYO SKYTREE should be and how many observation levels and elevators should be installed, the drafting of plans for facilities management, exhibitions and the interior design of the various facilities, as well as other projects such as lighting. I am currently in charge of administration. My work involves developing and managing schemes for enhancing the TOKYO SKYTREE experience—one of these being the Nikon Multi-Camera Control System.