You’ve seen Tokyo’s latest landmark from afar, or maybe even reached the base. Now comes the questions: What’s there to do around Tokyo Skytree? And how do you find out if you don't speak or read Japanese?
With its official opening set for May 22, little information about the 634-meter tower and surrounding neighborhood has made it into printed guidebooks.
Well, for English-speakers, there’s an app for that. Developed for smartphones running iOS or Android systems--and for the meantime free--Shitamachi Sora Sampo (“downtown sky stroll”), as it’s called, details more than 20 sightseeing routes around the towering landmark, many of them originating or ending in the nearby tourist district of Asakusa.
Created by two Japanese firms, Ubusuna, which specializes in community content, and BeMap, makers of cartological and railway timetable software, Shitamachi Sora Sampo aims to provide users with a time-travel experience. It uses GPS to track its users in the present, who can use the cameras on their phones to view augmented reality markers of the districts they pass. With a tap of the screen, they can then call up maps of the area as it appeared during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and Meiji Era (1868-1912) to compare to today.
Nearly 1,000 locations have been tagged for the app, according to developers. Among them are 100 shops and restaurants (many venerable) on the Asakusa side of the Sumidagawa river and 150 on the Skytree shore, as well as 400 scattered historic sites and temples. (Bathrooms have also been pinpointed). Both Sumida Ward and Taito Ward provided content for the app, which covers most of both wards but not the Ueno area.
The app can be downloaded for free from the Mac App Store and Google Play, although not all iOS features will be operable until the end of June. Shitamachi Sora Sampo also offers a trip simulator feature for those planning to visit the Asakusa and Skytree districts in the future.
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