Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Also known as Tokyo City Hall or Tocho, it was completed in 1991 at the cost of approximately $1 billion. Designed by the renowned Kenzo Tange to look like a computer chip, the Tokyo Government actually occupies three buildings on the site (as well as the the no. 1 building which houses the observations decks, there is also the no. 2 building and the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Building). It governs not only the twenty-three wards, but also the cities, towns and villages that make up metropolis.
Tocho held the title of Tokyo`s tallest building (at 243 meters or 799 feet) from 1991 to late 2006 when Midtown Tower in Roppongi was completed.
The main building has two observation decks on the 45th floors, one in the north tower and the other in the south tower.
The views from the south tower are especially good as they offer the most interesting areas of Tokyo such as: both Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree, Roppongi Hills, Yoyogi park (with Meiji shrine) and Shinjuku Gyoen, the skyscrapers of Nishi-Shinjuku, the NTT building in Yoyogi and of course Mt. Fuji (when the weather is fine) and other mountains. And if you have pretty good eyes, you`ll also be able to see distant Yokohama.
The night views are absolutely amazing, with the lights and neon signs lighting up the city. And if you are really lucky with the weather, the sunsets can just give an amazing spectacular finish to the day.
There are cafes in both towers, which are nice places to refresh yourself while enjoying a light meal or something to drink (and the prices are very reasonable). The cafe in the North tower operates as a bar at night with the last order at 10pm.
Also available are handsets (with earphone) that explain many of the landmarks that can be seen from the observation deck. As you move around the floor you will see maps above the windows. Move under the map, and the handset will automatically tell you what can be seen and any associated details. The languages available are English, Chinese, Korean and of course Japanese. To obtain a handset you will need to produce some identification.
So if you are after some great views of Tokyo, this is one of the best places to go, especially as it is completely FREE! Plus there are so many other things to do nearby such as Shinjuku Gyoen and even just walking in Nishi-Shinjuku can be very fun.
YouTube video about the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Access to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is located in Nishi-Shinjuku, about a 10 minute leisurely walk from Shinjuku station. It is of the major train terminals in Tokyo, with the Yamanote, Chuo, Keio, Sobu, Odakyu and Marunouchi lines all going there.
Opening times are as follows:
The North Observations deck is open from 9:30am till 11:00pm (last entry is 10:30pm). The South Observation deck closes at 5:30pm (but is open until 11pm when the North Observation deck is closed).
The South Observatory is closed the first and third Tuesday of every month.
The North Observatory closed the second and fourth Monday of every month.
If one those days listed above falls on a holiday, the observatory will be open but closed the following day.
The observatories are closed over the New Year’s holiday season (29-31 December and 2-3 January). Just remember though, the observatories are open on January 1!!
In 2013, the Tokyo Marathon will be held on February 24 so the observatories will be open from 11am.
Please be aware that until November 2013, the elevators are undergoing maintenance therefore waiting times might be longer than usual on some days.
We also have a Google map here that will guide you from JR Shinjuku station (West gate) to the building here:
View From Shinjuku station to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in a larger map
Admission is free.
Best times to go
The cooler months are definitely the best times to go, especially during the mornings if you want to get a good view of Mt. Fuji. Summer is okay, however the views are definitely not as good as the air is usually not so clear.
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