Since the opening of the Tokyo Skytree in 2012, Tokyo Tower is no longer the tallest or most fashionable structure in Tokyo. Still, the 56-year-old steel giant has managed to hang onto its reputation as one of the city’s most romantic locales, thanks in part to its location in quiet, sophisticated Shiba-koen as opposed to the boisterous Shitamachi district where the Skytree stands.
This month, Tokyo Tower is doing a little more to set the mood, with a beautiful light display that ties in with Japan’s Tanabata star festival.
Held each year on July 7, Tanabata has its roots in a Chinese folktale about a pair of tragic lovers. At least, they’re tragic for 364 days out of the year. On the night of Tanabata, the two lovers, represented by the stars Vega and Altair, cross the Milky Way that ordinarily divides them, and are able to enjoy a blissful night together before another year apart.
In celebration, Tokyo Tower’s observation deck has been decked out with 27,000 LEDs in order to recreate the splendor of the stars the two lovers cross to reunite.
Even better, the display will last longer than just single night, as it’s scheduled to run from now until July 7.
Legend holds that whatever you wish for on the night of Tanabata will be granted, but since that’s also the last night for the special display, you can’t use your wish for air or rail tickets to Tokyo in order to see it. Thankfully, there’s also a special website right here that simulates being there by showing the display from an almost infinite number of adjustable angles.
Tokyo Tower’s exterior is also getting some special Tanabata treatment. While the most common way to make your way to the 150-meter (490-foot) high main observation deck is by elevator, there’s also a 600-step external staircase you can use. Until July 7, it’ll be illuminated by blinking blue lights, giving you something to look at while you take one of what we assume would be many stops to catch your breath and wipe the sweat off your brow before your date sees how unfit you are.
Ordinarily, the staircase is only open on weekends from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but as part of the Tanabata celebration it’ll also be open from 5 to 9 on weekday nights, giving fitness-minded acrophiles a unique and memorable date night.