Sky Tree! Tokyo’s (and the world’s) tallest tower is nearing completion, with a scheduled grand opening for the spring of 2012. I saw it on an overcast day earlier this week, and I’m amazed at how much has been done since this time last year.

Tokyo Sky Tree - September 11, 2010

Tokyo Sky Tree - September 6, 2011

The primary purpose of Sky Tree is to serve as a television tower for NHK and five commercial stations. At 2,080 feet (634 meters), Sky Tree dwarfs Tokyo Tower (1,092 ft/333m) and enables broadcasters to transmit digitally.

But the tower isn’t simply a giant antenna. Sky Tree was designed with a complex around it, making it what developers call a “town with a tower.” The area surrounding the tower will form a community complete with businesses, a high-rise apartment building, and plazas for culture and entertainment.

Last year cranes surrounded the area that will be the first observatory, 1,148 feet (350m) high. This year, one little crane remains. Not only is the second observatory built, but the antenna is also in place.

Tokyo Sky Tree - September 11, 2010

Tokyo Sky Tree - September 6, 2011

In September of 2010 the buildings surrounding Sky Tree were skeletons. This year’s photo was taken from the opposite angle, but you can see the complex is taking shape.

Sky Tree complex construction September 11, 2010

Sky Tree complex September 6, 2011

This time next year I’ll be taking pictures from inside Sky Tree’s observatories.

Sky Tree from Katsushika