Posts Tagged ‘tokyo sky tree’

After the death of analog, whither Tokyo Tower?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

As everybody by now knows, Sunday, July 24 marked the end of analog TV broadcasts in Japan. However, the capital’s new broadcast tower, Tokyo Sky Tree, won’t begin sending out digital signals until May 12 next year, which means the iconic Tokyo Tower still has a reason to exist until then. The big question is: Will it have a reason afterwards?

Hey, don't forget me!

According to Tokyo Shimbun, the operators of Tokyo Tower lobbied the key broadcast companies to retain some of their business after Tokyo Sky Tree itself becomes operational. However, all six TV networks have decided to move their broadcast functions to TST. In terms of broadcasting, Tokyo Tower will remain a backup facility in the very unlikely event that TST is down. This will be a big blow to Tokyo Tower. Its revenues in 2010 amounted to ¥5.48 billion — ¥2.9 billion for tourism and ¥2.58 for renting out broadcast functions to TV and FM radio stations.

With the broadcast functions gone, Tokyo Tower will have to rely almost completely on tourism for its income; that and cutting expenses. And even there, TST had the advantage of being newer and taller. It opens to the public on May 22, and Tobu, the main investor, projects a whopping 25 million visitors in the first year. Tokyo Tower’s peak tourist year was 1989, when 3.8 million people visited. Afterwards, attendance dropped to a bit over 2 million by the turn of the century, and then the management implemented an image makeover that included live performances and special events. Attendance creeped up to about 3 million by 2006.

That, in fact, seems to be the strategy. Rather than compete with TST for out-of-towners, Tokyo Tower will makes its appeal to Tokyoites, whom the management hopes will look at the iconic structure with both nostalgia and a sense of permanence. Construction of Tokyo Tower started in 1956 from discarded armaments used in the Korean War, and represents to many Japan’s emergence from its darkest period. Another advantage Tokyo Tower will have over the younger upstart is pricing. Total costs of the Tokyo Sky Tree is estimated at ¥65 billion, and the price of a ticket to the main observatory will be ¥3,000 for adults. Tokyo Tower only charges ¥600 just to get to the top, and ¥1,420 to go to both observatory stations. Will that make a difference? Apparently, the insurance company Daiichi Seimei thinks so. According to a study the company carried out, it projects only 3 million visitors a year will come to TST, the same as Tokyo Tower now.

Tower of power: What’s a view worth?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

What you see is what you get

What you see is what you get

If you’ve lived in Japan for any length of time you know that any property you buy will likely not increase in value over time. Structures themselves, whether houses or condominiums, lose value as a matter of course because that’s the way the government and the housing industry planned it. And since the end of the bubble economy of the late ’80s, even land prices have dropped and continue to do so, thus contributing to the cycle of deflation that keeps the economy in the doldrums.

The only exception to this trend is Tokyo, and the media has lately been reporting on how healthy the condo market is in the capital, but according to AERA it’s only specific areas of Tokyo, and not necessarily the ones you might expect. For instance, the “3A area” of Aoyama, Azabu and Akasaka — expensive locations favored by well-to-do expats — has been losing value steadily since the so-called Lehman Shock because of decreasing demand for rental property.

But there are locations that AERA says offer “some hope” for the future, meaning that if you buy a condo in these locations the value won’t go down “that much.” These properties lie in a “golden triangle” whose points are Akihabara station, Toyosu station and Shinagawa station; in other words, parts of Minato, Chuo and Koto Wards, especially the waterfront district, which has become very popular among the boomer generation’s own progeny, who are now entering middle age.

There’s one exception, and that’s Sumida Ward, or, at least, parts of Sumida Ward. Earlier this year, a condo complex called Oacity near Kinshicho station opened model rooms and put on sale 850 units in three phases. All the units in each phase sold out on the first day, even though the complex won’t be completely finished for several years. Many units were so popular they had to be chosen by lot.

Why is a condo in the usually ignored Shitamachi district so popular? Three words: Tokyo Sky Tree. Apparently, any new building, and even quite a few old ones, with an unblocked view of the new TV tower is a hot property. Since there are very few tall buildings in that part of Tokyo right now, it’s relatively easy to find an unblocked view, especially given the fact that the completed tower will be more than 600 meters tall, but you can definitely expect more high rises to go up in the next few years.

In fact, there’s a good possibility that the folks in Oacity who purchased an apartment with a theoretical perfect view of the Tree might not have one by the time they move in if, in the meantime, some other developer builds a higher condo that blocks it. In that case their property value will plummet. The better the view, the more money you can get, and the fiercer the competition.


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