Exploring Tokyo doesn’t always have to be expensive. In fact, one of the best ways to get a sweeping panoramic view of this vibrant metropolis is absolutely free. That’s right; the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation decks are open to the public at no cost. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of this budget-friendly experience.
Despite being free to enter, this is one of the best observation decks in Tokyo and is just a short walk from Shinjuku station. If you don’t have the time or the money to visit the Skytree or the Tokyo city view observation deck this is a great choice.
Location and Access
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is in Shinjuku, a bustling district known for its shopping, dining, and Kabuki Cho entertainment area. The closest stations are Tochomae Station on the Oedo Line, Shinjuku Station on various JR and subway lines, and Nishi-Shinjuku Station on the Marunouchi Line.
The building has two observation decks: North and South, both situated on the 45th floor and offering stunning 360-degree views of Tokyo. You can see iconic landmarks such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, and even Mount Fuji on a clear day.
North Observatory: Open from 9:30 am to 11:00 pm (last entry at 10:30 pm) South Observatory: Open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (last entry at 5:00 pm) *Note: The South Observatory is closed every first and third Tuesday of the month, while the North Observatory is closed every second and fourth Monday. Both observatories are closed during the New Year holidays and for occasional maintenance.
Note: The South Observatory is currently closed due to remodeling work on the TMG Buildings.
What to Expect
Once you arrive at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, you’ll find signs directing you to the observatory elevators. There might be a short queue during peak hours, but the line usually moves quickly. The elevator ride itself is an experience, as it whisks you up to the 45th floor in just a few seconds.
Upon reaching the observation decks, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views. There are also mounted telescopes available for a closer look at the cityscape (usage fees apply). To enhance your experience, you’ll find information panels in English and Japanese, highlighting the major landmarks visible from the decks.
If you’re feeling peckish or want to grab a souvenir, both observation decks have a small café and a gift shop. Prices are reasonable, and the selection of snacks and souvenirs make for a nice break or a keepsake to remember your visit.
Tips for the Best Experience
- Visit on a weekday: Weekends and holidays tend to be crowded, so for a more relaxed experience, try visiting during a weekday.
- Time your visit for the best views: If you want to see Mount Fuji, visit on a clear day during the early morning or late afternoon. For a captivating night view, arrive shortly before sunset.
- Check the weather: Poor visibility due to rain or fog may affect your experience, so check the weather forecast before you go.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation decks offer an unbeatable (and free) way to take in the city’s stunning skyline. Don’t miss this budget-friendly gem on your next trip to Tokyo!
What Views Will You See?
As you gaze out from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation decks, you’ll be treated to a captivating display of Tokyo’s urban tapestry. The city stretches out before you, a sea of buildings interspersed with lush green spaces and the occasional glimmer of waterways.
From the North and South decks, you’ll spot the unmistakable red-and-white Tokyo Tower, a symbol of the city’s post-war rebirth, and to the left, the futuristic Tokyo Skytree, standing tall as the world’s tallest tower.
On a clear day, the majestic Mount Fuji serves as a breathtaking backdrop, its snow-capped peak contrasting beautifully with the vibrant cityscape.
As you scan the horizon, you’ll notice the distinct city districts, each with its own unique character. The bustling commercial hub of Shibuya, with its Shibuya sky observatory, can be seen to the south. To the east lies the historic district of Asakusa and in the north, you’ll spot the tranquil Ueno Park, home to numerous museums, a zoo, and a vast array of cherry blossom trees during the spring season.
Bridges and Waterways
Tokyo’s intricate network of bridges and waterways adds a touch of serenity to the urban landscape. The Sumida River, which flows into Tokyo Bay, is particularly visible from the observation decks. You’ll see several of its 26 bridges, each with its own distinct design and color scheme. On a sunny day, the water shimmers and sparkles, providing a stunning contrast to the concrete jungle.
Tokyo is not just about skyscrapers and bustling streets. The city is also home to many lush green spaces that provide a refreshing respite from the urban sprawl. From the observation decks, you’ll see the expansive Yoyogi Park, a popular spot for picnics and outdoor activities. The neatly arranged trees of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden are just a stone’s throw away and the green expanse of the Imperial Palace’s East Gardens also stands out amidst the city’s dense architecture.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks are a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Tokyo. The observation decks are on the 45th floor of the two towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and offer breathtaking sweeping views of the city. Here are some of the features that make the observation decks a memorable experience.
- Free Admission: One of the best things about the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks is that they are completely free to enter. This means that you can enjoy the stunning views of Tokyo without having to spend a single yen.
- 360-Degree Views: The observation decks offer 360-degree views of Tokyo, allowing you to see the city in all its glory. You can see everything from the skyscrapers of Shinjuku to the Tokyo Tower and even Mount Fuji on a clear day.
- Gift Shop: The observation decks have a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs to remember your visit. You can find everything from postcards and keychains to traditional Japanese crafts and snacks.
- Cafeteria: If you get hungry or thirsty during your visit, there is a cafeteria where you can grab a bite to eat or a drink. The cafeteria serves Japanese and Western dishes, as well as snacks and beverages including beer.
About The Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, also known as Tocho, was designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and completed in 1990. It is the highest of the Shinjuku skyscrapers and splits on its 33rd floor into two separate towers, the North and the South Tower. The building is the seat of the governor and the administration of Tokyo and has become a symbol of the city.
The observation decks, on the 45th floor of both towers, were opened to the public in 1991. Since then, the decks have been visited by millions of tourists from all over the world.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the North Observation Deck was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2015 with a new design and facilities, including a new café and a souvenir shop.
The closest train station to the building is Shinjuku Station, which is serviced by several different train lines including the JR Yamanote Line, JR Chuo Line, and the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line. Shinjuku Station, it is a short 10-minute walk to the building.
Once you arrive at the building, head to the elevators in the lobby area. The elevators will take you up to the observation decks on the 45th floor. The observation decks are free to enter and are open from 9:30 AM to 11:00 PM daily, except for the second and fourth Monday of each month when they are closed.
|Name (English)||Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks|
|Address||2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001, Japan|
|Times||North Observatory: 9:30 AM – 11:00 PM|
|South Observatory: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM (closed on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday)|
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