The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building mightn’t be as high as the more famous Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree, but just like them it has some great views of the city. A stunning building, with some saying it looks like a gigantic computer chip or a Gothic cathedral, rather futuristic anyway. Tocho (as is it commonly known) is a very popular observatory as it is conveniently located in Shinjuku, and it is has the added bonus of being completely FREE!
The building has two towers, north and south, that have observation decks on their 45th floors. In my opinion though, the south tower is the better of the two, so when I talk about this place, everything is based on that south tower. There is so much to see. During the day when the weather is fine 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 over Mount Fuji can give a spectacular finish to the day.
Please read on and find out what you can see there, the good and the bad, plus everything else you need to know!
- What can you see from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building?
- What's good about it?
- And what's not so good...?
As already mentioned I’m only going to cover the south tower, 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 only a partial list:
1. Mt. Fuji (when the weather is fine);
2. Roppongi Hills;
3. Shinjuku Gyoen;
4. the skyscrapers of Nishi-Shinjuku;
5. Tokyo Bay;
6. Tokyo Dome;
8. Tokyo Tower;
9. Tokyo Skytree;
10. Yoyogi park (with Meiji Jingu), and;
11. so many famous skyscrapers in the city I won’t even venture to name them at all!
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 see most of the important things in the city;
3. the view of Mount Fuji at sunset is pretty amazing if you ask me;
4. 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 some good views. Some might argue, that if you can get views this good for free, why go anywhere else?
5. Best of all it is completely free! It is completely free!
1. Just my opinion, but I think the view from the north tower is just boring. For a second opinion, when you walk inside it is fairly empty compared to the south tower. For the most part you’ll just be looking over the residential areas of the city;
2. the windows could have been built 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 good look;
3. there is a security check before you get in the elevator to go up. So that can extend the wait for elevators occasionally;
4. only bad for photographers – no tripods allowed, and;
5. if you don’t want to buy something to eat or drink at the coffee shop you might find sitting down a bit problematic as there aren’t many seats there.
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:
The North Observation deck 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!!
The cooler months are definitely the best, especially during the mornings if you want to get a good view of Mt. Fuji. Summer is okay, however the views are definitely not great as the air isn’t that good. Another good time is sunset – if the air is clear (and even sometimes a little hazy depending on conditions) those sunsets can be really great.
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.
Final words If you have an android devices there is an app you can download which will give you information about the views as you walk around. 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 one of the best places to go, especially as it is completely FREE! You can see the building’s website here.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building video
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy:
Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal – a good place to get some views of Tokyo’s harbour area;
Inokashira park – a park for everyone in Tokyo;
Sengakuji – resting place of Japan’s famed 47 ronin;
Shitamachi museum – find out a little more of old Tokyo;
Tokyo Gate Bridge – another excellent place for some views of the city.
I’ve been living in Tokyo for close to 20 years. Originally, I`m from Australia and made the move here in 1991 on a working holiday visa, when I was about 25. At that time I worked for NOVA (the defunct English school). In 1993 I returned to Australia to finish my university degree.
Returning to Tokyo in 1996, I have been living here ever since. I really love the city and am constantly exploring it to find out new things. When not out walking or exploring, I’ll be in front of my computer looking for some new place to … have my next walk in the city.