The Japanese are in danger of stealing the thunder from Dubai in the race for the world's new tallest free-standing structure with a 610 metre tall tower due to start construction imminently that has become a symbol of Japanese technological prowess and national pride.
Proposed by a consortium of six major t.v stations including the major project partner, the NHK Broadcasting Corporation, the Sumida Tower has been approved to stand in the Asakusa District of central Tokyo, a major hotspot for tourists. It will work primarily as a communications tower with transmitters for television stations but there will also be an observation platform for an expected 3 million tourists a year that form the vital component in making the tower viable.
It was this that was foremost in the minds of the consortium building the scheme when choosing the location for the design despite arguments from rival Taito and Saitama districts that Asakusa was more prone to earthquakes than they were.
In design terms the lattice-work that makes up the main neck of the tower and the base with arches forming legs on each of the four corners shows a heavy influence of Gustav Eiffel although the light glass and steel show a distinctly futurist aesthetic in action.
The tower will break the record currently held by the CN Tower in Toronto by 57 metres. Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates will in turn shatter the Sumida Tower record which it is expected to hold for only a few months as construction completes in 2009 only shortly before Burj Dubai.
It isn't the first tower of it's type to grace the Tokyo skyline. The Japanese government in the 1950s used a similar technique to show off the growing economic ascendence of the country with the construction of the 333 metre tall Tokyo Tower that was completed by the Takenaka Corporation in 1958.
Height inflation has made certain that 333 metres isn't what it used to be and more recently however Japan has found itself eclipsed by rivals such as China and Malaysia when it comes to tall buildings and engineering marvels. This project however should see Tokyo returning to the record books, if only for a matter of months.