A traditional ceremony to mark the completion of the world’s tallest freestanding broadcasting tower has been held in Tokyo.

A Shinto priest offered prayers of safety and prosperity for the new landmark in Tokyo – the 634-metre-high tower named the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Construction, which began in July 2008, was completed earlier this week.

Yoshizumi Nezu, the President of the tower’s developer, said he hopes the Tokyo Sky Tree will help bolster Japan’s recovery from the earthquake disaster last March.

“Japan is facing many difficulties. Nothing will make me happier than to see the Sky Tree act as a trigger for a brighter Japan, a more energetic Japan,” he told reporters after the ceremony.

The tower was developed by the Tobu Railway Company along with Japan’s six top broadcasters and will mainly be used for digital terrestrial broadcasting.

It will replace the existing Tokyo Tower, which was built in 1958 and stands 333m tall.

The tower is expected to bolster television and radio transmissions in the capital region. It will also have two observatories and house shops, restaurants and other entertainment.

Designed by award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando and sculptor Kiichi Sumikawa, the tower stands on a triangular foundation.

Its slender body turns into a cylinder as it stretches upward, with its bluish silver colour blending into the sky.

The Tokyo Sky Tree surpasses the Canton Tower in China’s southwestern city of Guangzhou, which previously claimed the title as the world’s tallest broadcasting tower at 600m.

Operators of the Sky Tree are finishing up interior facilities with plans to open the tower to the public on May 22.

The tower is expected to become a new tourist destination in Tokyo, with around 25 million visitors each year. More info