Towering over the city of Tokyo, TOKYO SKYTREE is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcasting transmission tower at 634 metres. Completed after three years and eight months of construction which began in 2008, it has become the symbol of Tokyo in the true sense of the word. Catching an unexpected glimpse of the tower while strolling around the city is a thrill and those who have made the trip to the tower’s observation deck must surely have been surprised at its immense height.
In this edition of our partner interview, we invited two guests, Mr SHINYA Akio and Ms KOSUGI Manami, from TOBU TOWER SKYTREE CO., LTD., which was unveiled as a Tokyo 2020 Official Supporter on 22 July 2020. We spoke to our two guests to hear their thoughts on the Tokyo 2020 Games as a new partner.
On 22 July 2020, TOBU TOWER SKYTREE CO., LTD. announced its partnership as a Tokyo 2020 Official Supporter. Please give us your thoughts on this agreement. Have you ever sponsored any international sports events or athletes before?
SHINYA Akio (hereinafter ‘Shinya’), Director of TOBU TOWER SKYTREE CO., LTD., of planning Division and Sales Division.
This is the first time that we have ever sponsored a sporting event or an athlete. First of all, I am very honoured to have become a Tokyo 2020 Partner. I am getting some new business cards made, and am feeling the sheer weight of having the Tokyo 2020 Games emblems on them. I now really feel that we have become an Official Supporter. It’s not only me. All of our employees are excited and very grateful.
The world is now faced with an unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games would serve as a symbol of how the world came together to overcome the adversity brought about by the novel coronavirus. TOBU TOWER SKYTREE is keen to play a role and contribute to society, which is why we raised our hand to become a partner.
KOSUGI Manami (hereinafter ‘Kosugi’), Manager of Sales Planning Division TOBU TOWER SKYTREE CO., LTD.
In March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and a massive tsunami devastated Japan’s Tohoku region. At the time, SKYTREE was still under construction, and though just short of reaching the projected 634 metres, its vibration suppression system was not yet fully working. But, SKYTREE emerged from the shock without any damage and eventually saw completion. The media and the public hence dubbed SKYTREE the “symbol of reconstruction”. (Note: SKYTREE reached the projected height of 634 metres on 18 March, a week after 11 March, the day of the earthquake and tsunami).
With SKYTREE being seen as a figure of hope, we opened the tower amid great public expectations. The year 2021 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and will be an important year both for Japan and the world. In this context, out of gratitude that so many people have come to cherish SKYTREE, which also serves as a broadcasting transmission tower, we strongly hope to deliver positive feelings and excitement by providing what we have to offer for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Several events marking the Tokyo 2020 Games were held at SKYTREE, and you have provided support on all these occasions.
Shinya: We adorned SKYTREE with special lighting for major milestones leading up to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games for Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018, and Tokyo 2020.
These include the two-years-to-go, 500 days-to-go, and one-year-to-go countdown events for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. We are also cooperating by using laser mapping technology that enables us to display letters on the building. The countdown was projected on the façade of the observation deck to indicate the number of days to go to the Tokyo 2020 Games in an effort to build up momentum among the general public.
Kosugi: We design lighting utilising LED’s ability to produce many different colours. We used to outsource lighting design to external designers, but now we are able to do it in-house. Making minor adjustments after a trial lighting is checked by specialists is an indispensable process. We are very pleased to be able to get involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games through our SKYTREE illuminations. lluminations are eye-catching events and many people who experience them often post pictures on social media. Moreover, I believe illuminations have the power to deliver positive feelings to people like a huge lamp that lights the city.
I am sure many people are looking forward to seeing the special lighting expected during the Games time. We have just passed the one-year-to-go milestone for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Please tell us about your future plans as a partner.
Shinya: We have only just got to the starting line in terms of specific actions. First of all, we would like to cooperate in events organised by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee in various ways. We also want to let the wider public know that SKYTREE has become a partner.
We are considering undertaking a number of projects off our own back that utilise “World’s Number One” as a key phrase. This is based on the fact that SKYTREE is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcasting transmission tower, and that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are the stages for athletes vying to become the world’s number one.
Kosugi: Some regard SKYTREE as a kind of energy vortex. Although high places are often believed to be such sites, constructed on a ley line (Note: refers to straight alignments drawn between sacred places. SKYTREE is believed to be located along the line that connects Mount Fuji and the Kashima Jingu Shrine. SKYTREE has even been featured in a TV programme as a spiritual spot.
Just around the time we were considering an event where visitors can make a wish to become number one, or pray for victory, we became a partner of the Tokyo 2020 Games. We would like to take this opportunity and do something fun and exciting, not only for athletes but also for the general visitors to have them pray for good fortune and success.
How do you envision Japanese society after the Tokyo 2020 Games?
Shinya: SKYTREE was among the many businesses to temporarily close in March due to the spread of infection. Although we reopened on 1 June, customers have not returned in sufficient numbers and the present business situation continues to be harsh. Engaged as we are in tourism, we are prepared for the worst to some extent. Nevertheless, I hope to see the situation come under control soon and Tokyo and Japan regain the bustle of the past.
SKYTREE serves as a tourist destination besides providing radio waves in the region. In the hope that the Tokyo 2020 Games will further drive Japan to thrive as a tourism-based economy, it is my wish that SKYTREE, as a symbol of Tokyo, will contribute to further communicate the attractions of Tokyo and Japan across the nation and globally.
Sorakara-chan, the official character of SKYTREE, which appeared on the photo shoot is very cute, isn’t it?
Kosugi: Yes, I was involved in the creation of Sorakara-chan, the SKYTREE official character, from the selection stage. The stipulation was that the character needed not only to be cute but also serve as the public face of SKYTREE, or a kind spokesperson if you will. That’s why Sorakara-chan was selected. I am deeply attached to the character because it was produced from zero. I am very pleased to see that Sorakara-chan is now well known among the public.
Before its opening, SKYTREE was a mere broadcasting transmission tower that evoked no emotion, with much of the focus being given to the construction process and the tower’s steel beams. However, for SKYTREE’s role as a sightseeing facility, an official character that evokes excitement and communicates a fun-loving feeling plays an important role. In this respect, Sorakara-chan meets all the requirements. Furthermore, we are keen to expand her role further, such as changing her costume according to the season or dressing her in special attire for collaborative projects in an attempt to garner more interest.
Many of the frontline staff at SKYTREE adore Sorakara-chan as well. Sorakara-chan is friends with all the staff and even exchanges high-fives with them (laughter). She certainly plays a huge role in terms of communication among staff.
So that means we might be able to see Sorakara-chan decked out in sports wear during Games time! Lastly, please give us your message ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Kosugi: Originally, the Tokyo 2020 Games would have been held around this time, in July 2020, with joy and excitement spreading across Japan and the world. Although the event has been postponed, I hope everybody including those who were really looking forward to the Games as well as athletes, organisers and other people involved think positive and keep on working towards the opening. It is an Olympic and Paralympic Games that will be held in Tokyo for the first time in 57 years, so I really want to share that emotion with everybody. When I was a student, I was into sports, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games is really something special that everyone talks about. All of us at SKYTREE are prepared to do whatever we have to share the excitement.
Shinya: Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics after an intense campaign, so I want us to overcome the current hardships and make concerted efforts to realise the goal. In a world where COVID-19 is dividing people and societies, I strongly believe that the Tokyo 2020 Games now has a mission to provide an opportunity for us to come together. TOBU TOWER SKYTREE is determined to work hard in partnership with other partner companies of the Tokyo 2020 Games to build momentum for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in Japan and around the world.
SKYTREE continues to deliver hope and excitement to the general public, both as a symbol of reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster and as a symbol of Tokyo today. It is very encouraging to welcome TOBU TOWER SKYTREE CO., LTD. as a Tokyo 2020 Official Supporter, which gives us huge confidence to forge ahead with the Tokyo 2020 Games.
On 23 July 2020, SKYTREE was adorned with special lighting to pay tribute to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontline. The tower was lit up in blue with the message, “TOGETHER WE CAN ALL WIN!”
We look forward to seeing the future events being held at SKYTREE in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games!