Kyoto Tower (京都タワー)

Kyoto Tower is an observation tower which soars distinctively above the Karasuma central exit of Kyoto Station. It is operated by Kyoto Tower Co., Ltd., an affiliate company of Keihan Electric Railway Co., Ltd. Including the Kyoto Tower building at its base, the tower is 131m in height. It was opened on December 28, 1964. It was designed by Mamoru YAMADA, an architect. The main structure was designed by the Architecture Laboratory of the Engineering Department of Kyoto University. Its distinctive style simulates that of a lighthouse illuminating Kyoto City in place of the sea. It is often mistakenly seen as being in the image of a candle.

It not only overlooks Kyoto City but also Osaka City can be seen on a clear day. Key rings featuring a miniature tower are sold there as souvenirs. A weather camera installed on the tower sends live images of Kyoto City. The building under the tower houses hotels and famous stores. A large bathhouse in the third basement is popular with tourists arriving at Kyoto Station on overnight express buses.

Kyoto Tower Co., Ltd. operates Kyoto Tower Hotel inside the Tower Building, its annex (Old Kyoto Dai-San Tower Hotel), and Kyoto Dai-Ni Tower Hotel. Kyoto Tower Co., Ltd. is owned by its parent company, Keihan Electric Railway Co., Ltd., which holds a majority of its stocks. Keihan Electric Railway promotes 'the effective use of Kyoto Tower,' particularly stressing 'commercial renewal' in its future business plan.

There has been controversy ever since its construction relating to the need for this kind of building in an ancient capital Kyoto. This is probably the reason that Godzilla destroys this tower with a heat ray in the movie "Godzilla versus MechaGodzilla" which was produced by a movie director from Kyoto.

Kyoto Tower's height, 131 m, stems from the population of Kyoto City at the time of construction: 1.31 million.

Another theory is that this is the altitude above sea level of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

Kyoto Tower Building
Structure: 9 stories above ground: 3 stories below ground (to a depth of 31 m)

Site area: 2,783 m2

Location: Shichijo Karasuma, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture


Structure: stressed skin structure (cylindrical)

Height: 100 m (tower section only)

Height: 131 m (observation deck at 100 m)

Total weight: approximately 800 tons (tower only)


The large underground spa is popular with tourists arriving on overnight buses.

As of 2006, the second floor houses shops such as The Daiso, and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. Futaba Shobo (bookstore) is among the outlets on the third floor, and handicraft shops can be found in the basement. Some people have raised doubts as to whether these stores are appropriate for such a Kyoto landmark.

Previously, Kyoto Central Post Office used to occupy the site.

In 2005, some students at the Kyoto University of Art and Design established the 'Kyoto Tower Study Group (Tawaken)' as part of their graduation work. Their public relations campaign in promoting the 'Kyoto Tower Exercise' helped to gain publicity for the tower.

One of the members of this group was praised for their achievement and employed by the company to work in its PR section.

The activities of Tawawa-chan and other interesting information about Kyoto are frequently updated on a blog with many images.
The concept of the blog is 'positive news only.'
It is produced by Koichi MAEDA of Kyoto Radio Café Co.

A mascot doll that was created for the 40th anniversary of the tower became the official mascot, called "Tawawa-chan" in December 2004.

One of the sections of the operation manual for the Wii entitled 'For Safety' (page 15) contains a depiction of Kyoto Tower amid a thunderstorm. This is because its manufacturer Nintendo's head office is in Kyoto City.

Since the autumn of 2007, the tower has had an advertisement for its parent company Keihan Electric Railway on its surface, stating 'Take the Keihan Train for Gion-Shimizu: a direct connection with JR Tofukuji Station," and information on where to change trains.

[Original Japanese]