Tokyo has various observation decks, such as Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, and Skytree. However, a lesser-known observation spot is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. Once boasting the tallest height in Japan, the 45th-floor observatory, located at a height of 202 meters, is incredibly FREE of charge.
If the weather is good during the day, you can see Mount Fuji and enjoy panoramic views of Tokyo, including Tokyo Tower and Skytree. At night, you can gaze down at the night view of Shinjuku from above.
Additionally, the Metropolitan Government Building houses restaurants and cafes, making it an unbeatable spot to enjoy lunch or dinner.
I recently visited the observatory at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building myself. In this article, I will introduce you to this location, including photos and information on how to access the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories.
- Hidden Tourist Spot: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- 55sec to reach 202m above ground. The free admission observatory at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory in Photos
- Souvenir Shop, Café, and Yayoi Kusama-designed Piano
- How to get to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory
Hidden Tourist Spot: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the center of Tokyo’s administration. It used to be located in Marunouchi, but due to aging, it was relocated to its current location in Shinjuku in 1991.
The design of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was created by world-renowned architect Kenzo Tange.
Its exterior is said to be inspired by the shape of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and at the time of its completion, it boasted the tallest height in Japan at 243 meters.
Notably, Kenzo Tange also designed the Shinjuku Park Tower, which houses Park Hyatt Tokyo, the setting for Sofia Coppola’s film “Lost in Translation” (2003).
The area in front of the government building features a circular plaza, reminiscent of a scene from Star Wars, and is a great spot for taking portraits and enjoying street photography.
55sec to reach 202m above ground. The free admission observatory at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Relying on Google Maps, I made my way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The elevator to the observatory is slightly difficult to find, but if you follow the signs, you’ll find it easily.
At the elevator entrance, there is a bag check. I was told it would take 55 seconds to reach the 45th floor, where the observatory is located.
Inside the elevator, it was so quiet that I could hear the sound of people swallowing their saliva, making it an awkward 55 seconds.
Now, let’s enjoy the view from 202 meters above ground at the observatory.
Views from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory in Photos
First, you’ll see the high-rise office buildings in the Shinjuku West Exit area. These skyscrapers were built during Japan’s period of rapid economic growth in the 1970s, including the Keio Plaza Hotel, which was once the world’s tallest hotel, and the Sompo Japan Head Office Building with its distinctive curved walls.
In the foreground of the photo is the circular plaza in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Personally, I love looking down at rooftops, which is a rare opportunity, even more than looking at the horizon.
Taking photos of the view is great, but it’s also interesting to capture silhouettes of people in the observatory, so I took several shots.
Yoyogi Park (Meiji Shrine) is a vast green space in the concrete jungle of Tokyo, something you might not notice when looking at Google Maps.
Souvenir Shop, Café, and Yayoi Kusama-designed Piano
The observatory also has a souvenir shop and café. Personally, I was interested in the Godzilla snow globe, which also had a King Ghidorah version available.
They also sell Godzilla T-shirts, which triggered my desire for more merchandise.
There’s also a piano that anyone can play, which adds an elegant touch to the observatory. This grand piano, decorated by artist Yayoi Kusama, features her signature dot pattern.
How to get to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory
To reach the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, you can walk 14 minutes from JR Shinjuku Station or take the Toei Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, which is directly connected.
To access the observatory, take the “Observatory Elevator” from the first floor of the Main Building No. 1.
|Hours||9:30 to 22:00 (entry until 21:30)|
※Souvenir shop is open from 10:00 to 18:00
|Closed||1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month / New Year’s holiday season|
※Click here for the full-year observatory schedule.
|Real-Time Congestion Information||Tokyo Metropolitan Government South Observatory Congestion Lamp|
Shinjuku is famous for Kabukicho in the east exit area, but the west exit area where the Metropolitan Government Building is located is also recommended.
This is because there are many photo spots in the office district of the west exit, such as taking pictures with the backdrop of these high-rise buildings or photographing businessmen dressed in suits.
So, next time you’re in the area, make sure to explore these hidden gems and capture the essence of Shinjuku through your lens.
NEW ZINE RELEASED.
Yusuke Nagata’s fourth zine, his first in two years, has finally been released.
This time, I am also offering a limited-edition print set. From a selection of 6 images, you can choose either darkroom prints or inkjet prints.
Want to create the best memories in Tokyo? Join my darkroom workshop!
Join our tour, where you’ll shoot with film, develop, and print your photos in a darkroom, all in one day.
Every participant will receive one roll of film as a gift. If you prefer, instead of you taking the photos, the guide can also take street portraits of you.