TB 2

One of the best reasons to come to Tokyo is to experience the sheer energy of being in the biggest city in the world. There’s no better way to get an idea of the massive scale of Japan’s capital than with a bird’s eye view from hundreds of feet above its streets.

Unfortunately, the city’s two most famous observation towers, Tokyo Tower and its younger sibling the Tokyo Skytree, both charge hefty admission prices. But if you just spent your last bit of cash because you couldn’t say no to the chance to buy hot coffee in a can, here are eight spots that offer awesome views of Tokyo that won’t cost you a single yen to see.

1. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

TB 1

Height: 202 meters (663 feet)
Open: 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Closed: First and third Tuesday of every month (South Observation Deck), Second and fourth Monday of every month (North Observation Deck)
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku 2-8-1
Nearest station: Tochomae/都庁前 (Oedo Subway Line)

Although some critics are less than thrilled by the structure’s arguably draconian exterior, the two observation decks of Tocho (the more succinct nickname for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building) have been beloved by thrifty Tokyoites since the building’s opening in 1991.

Both are located 45 stories above the bustling Shinjuku district, with the North Tower observation deck housing an upscale Italian restaurant, while the South Tower has a café and the better view of Mt. Fuji. The observation decks are open until 11 p.m., making Tocho a great place to head to on a post-dinner and drinks stroll.

TB 28

TB 3

2. Caretta Shiodome

TB 4

Height: 200 meters (656 feet)
Open: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Higashi Shimbashi 1-8-2
Nearest station: Shiodome/汐留 (Oedo Subway Line)

Moving to the east side of Tokyo, we come to the Caretta shopping/dining/office complex in Shiodome. The 46th and 47th floors contain a number of fashionable restaurants with views of Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge that connects the island of Odaiba with the rest of the city. Of course, even if you’re not hungry, you can still ride the elevator up to the restaurant floor and sneak a peek of the view from the common areas. And if you happen to be stopping by in December, don’t miss the romantic Christmas light display at the base of the building.

TB 5


TB 7

3. Ebisu Garden Place Tower

TB 8

Height: 160 meters (525 feet)
Open: 11 a.m.-12 midnight
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 4-61-1
Nearest station: Ebisu/恵比寿 (Yamanote Line)

Although it’s located in the same ward of Tokyo as rowdy Shibuya, Ebisu is worlds away in terms of atmosphere, being primarily the dominion of young professionals. The Garden Place Tower was built on the plot of land once occupied by the brewery for Ebisu Beer, to which a nearby museum/tasting room is dedicated. Like Caretta, the top floors of the Garden Place Tower, the 38th and 39th contain a number of restaurants with sweeping views, and a few windows in the common areas which offer similar vistas.

TB 9

TB 10

4. Shinjuku NS Building

TB 11

Height: 130 meters (427 feet)
Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku 2-4
Nearest station: Tochomae/都庁前 (Oedo Subway Line)

Back in Shinjuku once again, the stat sheet for the NS Building isn’t so impressive, as it’s a mere 130 meters tall and is, once again, an office complex with restaurants on its 29th floor. But while the exterior is nothing to get excited over, the interior, with its cavernous atrium and suspended bridge, are so impressive that they rival the great views of the city out the windows.

TB 12

TB 13


TB 15

5. Hokutopia

TB 16

Height: 88.30 meters (290 feet)
Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku 2-4
Nearest station: Oji/王子 (Keihin Tohoku Line)

The shortest of the bunch, Hokutopia’s height is insistently listed at 88.30 meters. Nonetheless, its location on the less-developed northern edge of what can be called downtown Tokyo means fewer nearby skyscrapers to block visitors’ lines of sight, allowing for nice views of taller landmarks such as the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower.

TB 17

TB 18

6. Tower Hall Funabori

TB 19

Height: 115 meters (377 feet)
Open: 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Edogawa-ku, Funabori 4-1-1
Nearest station: Funabori/船堀 (Shinjuku Subway Line)

True to its name, the Tower Hall Funabori has both and exhibition hall and observation tower with 360-degree views of its surroundings. The building is the site of frequent events such as classical music concerts and film festivals.

TB 20

TB 21

7. Carrot Tower

TB 22

Height: 124 meters (407 feet)
Open: 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Taishido 4-1-1
Nearest station: Nishi Taishido/西太子堂 (Tokyu Setagaya Line)

Ostensibly named for its orange-ish exterior, the Carrot Tower is the tallest building in its relatively suburban neighborhood, giving it largely unobstructed views of central Tokyo.

TB 23

TB 24

8. Bunkyo Bikku Center

TB 25

Height: 105 meters (344 feet)
Open: 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Address: Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Kasuga 1-16-21
Nearest station: Nishi Korakuen/後楽園 (Marunouchi Subway Line)

The Bikku Center is located just over a block away from Tokyo Dome, the roof of which unfortunately prevents visitors from catching a glimpse of whatever sporting event or concert happens to be going on at the time. The 25th-floor observatory does, however, provide spectacular views of Mt. Fuji at sunset.


TB 27

Let us know your favourite of the bunch or if you have any other recommendations for lofty perches in Japan!

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Ganref
Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Ganref
Insert images: FC2, Nifty, Exblog, Exblog, Livedoor, Dion, Ameblo, Tokyo View, El Wind, Try Next, Eonet, Photobito, Webfry, Hatena, Gonna, Blue Style, FC2, Yahoo! Japan, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo Yakei, Photozou, Blue Style, Livedoor, Twitter, Bunkyo Ward, Yakei Kabegami (1, 2)