The postmarks are almost as important to me as the images and stamps on the postcards I receive (and the messages are below these, to tell the truth!). The majority of the cards I receive from the United States, Canada and Great Britain bear difficult-to-read inkjet-spray cancellations which often miss the stamps completely. I’m actually amazed when I can decipher the date on any postcard, even the handstamps and machine postmarks are often poorly applied. I’m indeed thankful when the sender writes the date on the postcards themselves as I do track the time they take to reach me.
Thus, I’m amazed on the rare occasions when I receive a card with a beautifully-applied cancellation. It is indeed a cause for celebration when the postmark is as special as the one the card I received last month from my friend Jay’s Japanese stop on his school term break holiday. He mailed the postcard from the top of the Tokyo Tower and even sent me a couple of photos of his dropping it into the mailbox.
Tokyo Tower (東京タワー Tōkyō tawā) is a communications and observation tower in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. At 1,092 feet (332.9 meters), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.
Hisakichi Maeda, founder and president of Nippon Denpatō, the tower’s owner and operator, originally planned for the tower to be taller than the Empire State Building, which at 381 meters was the highest structure in the world. However, the plan fell through because of the lack of both funds and materials. The tower’s height was eventually determined by the distance the TV stations needed to transmit throughout the Kantō region, a distance of about 93 miles (150 kilometers). Tachū Naitō, renowned designer of tall buildings in Japan, was chosen to design the newly proposed tower. Looking to the Western world for inspiration, Naitō based his design on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. With the help of engineering company Nikken Sekkei Ltd., Naitō claimed his design could withstand earthquakes with twice the intensity of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake or typhoons with wind speeds of up to 140 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour)
The Takenaka Corporation broke ground in June 1957 and each day at least 400 laborers worked on the tower. It was constructed of steel, a third of which was scrap metal taken from U.S. tanks damaged in the Korean War. When the 90-meter antenna was bolted into place on October 14, 1958, Tokyo Tower was the tallest freestanding tower in the world, taking the title from the Eiffel Tower by 13 meters. Despite being taller than the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower only weighs about 4,000 tons, 3,300 tons less than the Eiffel Tower. While other towers have since surpassed Tokyo Tower’s height, the structure was still the tallest artificial structure in Japan until April 2010, when the new Tokyo Skytree became the tallest building of Japan. It was opened to the public on December 23, 1958, at a final cost of ¥2.8 billion ($8.4 million in 1958).
Tokyo Tower’s two main revenue sources are antenna leasing and tourism. It functions as a radio and television broadcasting antenna support structure and is a tourist destination that houses several different attractions. Over 150 million people have visited the tower in total since its opening in late 1958. The first area tourists must visit upon reaching the tower is FootTown, a four-story building stationed directly under the tower. Here, visitors can eat, shop and visit several museums and galleries. Elevators that depart from the first floor of FootTown can be used to reach the first of two observation decks, the two-story Main Observatory. For the price of another ticket, visitors can board another set of elevators from the second floor of the Main Observatory to reach the final observation deck —the Special Observatory. The two-story Main Observatory is at 490 feet (150 meters), while the smaller Special Observatory reaches a height of 819 feet (249.6 meters).
The tower acts as a support structure for an antenna. Intended for television broadcasting, radio antennas were installed in 1961, but the tower now broadcasts signals for Japanese media outlets such as NHK, TBS and Fuji TV. Japan’s planned digital television transition by July 2011 was problematic, however; Tokyo Tower’s height was not high enough to support complete terrestrial digital broadcasting to the area. A taller digital broadcasting tower, known as Tokyo Skytree, was completed on February 29, 2012.