When people think of getting a great view of the Tokyo, many come up with places like Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree. Well, another great place is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which is very close to Shinjuku station and offers some great views of the city. Not quite as high as the other two, it is still a great place to visit. And best of all it is completely free to enter.
The building has two observation decks, one in the north tower and the other in the south tower, on the 45th floors. In my opinion though, the south tower has the better views of Tokyo. There is so much to see. During the day you can see miles and miles of interesting stuff and at night the neon casts a different light on the city. And if you are really lucky with the weather, the sunsets can just give an amazing spectacular finish to the day.
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!
What can you see from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building?
I’m only going to cover the south tower here, as I think it is really the best of the two. The list of things that you can see from 45th floor is very good and here is a partial list:
1. Tokyo Tower
2. Sky Tree
3. Roppongi Hills
4. Yoyogi park (with Meiji shrine)
6. the skyscrapers of Nishi-Shinjuku
7. the NTT building in Yoyogi
8. Mt. Fuji (when the weather is fine)
9. If you have pretty good eyes, you`ll also be able to see distant Yokohama
10. Tokyo Bay
What’s good about the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building?
1. It’s located very close to Shinjuku station, one of the major transport hubs in Tokyo, so it is extremely easy to get to;
2. you can all the important things in the city;
3. on a fine day, you could end thinking that you really saved some money by going there. It’s forty-five floors up and that is pretty high. High enough to get great views. Some might argue, that if you can get views this good for free, why go anywhere else?
4. best of all it is completely free! It is completely free!
And what’s not so good…?
1. Just my opinion, but I think the view from the north tower is just boring. For the most part you’ll just be looking over the residential areas of the city;
2. the windows could be a little wider in a few places. For those who’ve tried looking at a Mount Fuji sunset will know what I’m talking about. With so many people crowded around the windows it’s a bit difficult to get a view
3. there is a security check before you get in the elevator. So that can extend the wait for elevators occasionally;
4. only bad for photographers – no tripods allowed.
Admission is free.
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.
The Oedo subway line has a station right next to the building as well named, “Tochomae”, from which you use exit number 4.
Here is a Google Map to give you some help:
View From Shinjuku station to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in a larger map
The North Observatory is open from 9:30am till 11:00pm (last entry is 10:30pm), while 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 but the North Observatory is closed on 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). However they are open on January 1!!
Best time 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 not as clear. Another good time is sunset – if the air is clear those sunsets can look really great.
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A very brief history of 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 (1913-2005) to look like a computer chip. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is actually three buildings on the one site (the no. 1 building 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 the 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.
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.
There are also 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.
So if you are after some great views, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is is one of the best places to go, especially as it is completely FREE!
You can see the the building’s homepage for the observation deck’s here.