Sky Tree unveils mascot

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The Independent Travel

With the Sky Tree rising inexorably over Tokyo's Sumida district, the operators have named the mascot for what will be the tallest self-supporting tower in the world.

Sorakara-chan - which can be translated literally as "Child From the Sky" - beat competition from 65 other characters entered into the competition organised by Tobu Tokyo Sky Tree Co. And as any visitor to Japan will know, no company, club or organisation is complete unless it has its very own mascot.

According to the designer, Sorakara-chan is a girl with a star for a head and who came to Earth from another planet, from where she has seen the Sky Tree poking through the clouds with her favourite telescope.

Her dress replicates the criss-cross design of the struts of the tower and Sorakara-chan merchandising will be very much in evidence when the 634-metre tower is officially opened in the spring of 2012. Construction work is scheduled to be completed in December 2011 and the tower will be the centre-piece of a huge regeneration project in the north-east suburbs of the Japanese capital.

The Sky Tree officially became Japan's tallest structure in July, when workmen passed the 400-metre mark, and work has continued apace since then. Visible from much of the city, cranes are constantly in motion and the construction site has become a tourist attraction in its own right.

Sumida Ward has traditionally been a "shitamachi" district of working-class, low-rise buildings that has been spared the rush of development that has afflicted other parts of Tokyo. It is one of the last remaining areas with a geisha district and is perhaps best known among tourists for Sensoji Temple.

But local shops and attractions are reporting a surge in new interest in the area among people fascinated at the steady growth of the Sky Tree. New shops are opening in rapid succession and the Kappabashi district, famous for supplying every conceivable form of kitchen equipment for the city's restaurants, is even busier than normal, with tourists making up a greater percentage of the visitors.

The Sky Tree will be taking over as a broadcasting tower from the venerable Tokyo Tower - a mere 333 meters high - and a taller antenna is to be added to the original plan to ensure that it remains taller than the Guangzhou TV and Sightseeing Tower, although it does not come close to the 828-metre Burj Dubai, although that can be classified as a building instead of a tower.

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