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Tuesday, 22nd May 2012
In Events In Japan,

Elevator problem cannot overshadow Skytree opening

Thousands of people turned up to visit the Tokyo Skytree when it opened to the public for the first time today.

Around 200,000 people from across Japan were thought to have visited the iconic structure for its public premiere, but a problem with elevators threatened to rain on its parade.

Crowds refused to be put off by the bad weather, but strong winds did force the closure of the tower's lifts, leaving visitors stuck in one of its observatories, the Japan Times reported.

This could not dent the mood of optimism, however, with some 8,000 people reserving tickets for a spot on one of the observation levels.

Standing some 634m tall, the broadcast tower has two viewing platforms situated 350m and 450m above the capital.

Before it had even opened there were around 5,000 people waiting to enter its glitzy shopping centre and another 100 or so queuing to be catapulted up to the observation levels.

Speaking to the news provider, Niigata Prefecture resident Norio Sone said that he was determined to be on the first elevator up, though the bad weather was disappointing.

"I left my house at 5 am to get on the first shinkansen of the day," the 77-year-old explained.

It is estimated that up to 32 million people will visit the SKytree during the first year of its opening, before visitor numbers fall to around 25 million per year subsequently.

President of Tobu Tower Skytree Michiaki Suzuki told the audience at the opening ceremony that he wanted the tower to become a major tourist attraction.

"We will try our best to let visitors experience the newest attraction in Tokyo and Japan, and make it the world's most beloved tower," the news provider quoted him as saying.

Its main rival for this position is probably the Eiffel tower in Paris, which at 320m tall is less than half the size of the Skytree. It was built in 1889.

Written by Susan Ballion

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Japan construction firm plans space elevator for tourists (23rd February 2012)