Photo/Illutration Visitors head for the main deck of Tokyo Tower by climbing outdoor stairs on May 28, when the tower reopened. (Shiro Nishihata)

Tokyo Tower resumed operations on May 28 for the first time in 50 days after closing because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

After the entrance shutter lifted at 9 a.m., 20 visitors who had been waiting in line--while keeping a safe distance from each other--entered the facility one after another. Staff wearing face shields welcomed them with smiles. 

Hiroko Kaneda, 36, a tech worker who lives nearby, visited for the first time in a month and a half to get into shape after teleworking for so long.

“It’s so refreshing to get to climb up the stairs,” she said.

Visitors were previously permitted to use the outdoor stairs only on weekends and holidays, but they can now use them every day.

Fewer people are currently being allowed to use the elevator at a time to prevent close gatherings. But visitors who have not had much physical exercise because of their long stay-at-home measures now have the opportunity to go up about 600 steps, until reaching the observation deck.

Tokyo Tower opened 62 years ago.

The iconic red structure normally operates all year round and rarely closes. It closed for one day in February 1989 for Emperor Showa’s funeral, and for one week after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.