Jun 27, 2017
Making holidays in Tokyo can be a very expensive business. But not everything around the Japan’s capital has to cost you a lot of money. One highlight of every city is seeing the area from above. Everyone knows Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree. You can have an amazing view from above, but these towers costs a lot of money. But don’t worry about your expenses; it is also possible to see Tokyo from above for free!
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
One free possibility – and probably the most known - is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁, Tōkyō Tochō). It is located in Shinjuku and, as the name says, it's normal use is as the office building of Tokyo’s government. This is also the reason why visitors have to go through a bag check if they want to get inside.
The building is 243 meters high and has two towers, each one with an observation deck located at a height of 202 meters. Construction was completed in 1991. On a clear day you have the chance to see Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower and Skytree. Also, the night view is really amazing. For sure, you also can buy souvenirs there or have a break at the café. A tourist information center is located on the ground level, too.
The observatories open at 9:30 in the morning. The Southern Tower closes earlier at 17:30, while the Northern one stays open until 23:00. Take care of closing days around New Year’s Holidays. The closest station is Tocho-mae on the Oedo Subway Line, however, you also can walk there in around ten minutes from JR Shinjuku station.
Official Website : http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/OFFICES/observat.htm
Bunkyo Civic Center
Another building you can visit for free is the Bunkyo Civic Center (文京シビックセンター). As in Shinjuku, this is a government building, this time for the Bunkyo ward. It was completed in 1994. The observatory is located on the 25th floor, 105 meters above the ground. You have a 330 degree panorama view from there, including Tokyo Skytree and some other skyscrapers around the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro areas. If you are lucky you even can view Mount Fuji from there.
The observatory is opened from 9:00 to 20:30, especially for the evening view the observatory has special windows avoiding indoor lighting reflections. It is closed on the 3rd Sunday in May and from December 29th to January 3rd for New Year’s Holidays.
The Bunkyo Civic Center is located next to Tokyo Dome, so you even can enjoy your time at Tokyo Dome City when you are in this area.
These are only two possibilities to see Tokyo from above for free. But there are even more. Just for example you can take a look to following places:
- Shinjuku NS Building in Shinjuku
- Hokutopia in Shinjuku
- Shibuya Hikarie
- Caretta Shiodome in Minato
- Ebisu Garden Place Tower in Ebisu
- Tower Hall Funabori in Edogawa
- Carrot Tower in Setagaya
- Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
- … and so on.
Also, if you are living in Japan and friends are visiting you from abroad, these places might be a good possibility to save money and do some great things together without spending too much. For example, I already visited Skytree twice now, and I personally would rather let my visitors go up there alone and save the 3,000 yen for a nice dinner together. If we want to see Tokyo from above together, we can choose a free observatory for this (^_~)v
Have you ever visited one of these free observatories in Tokyo?
Or do you have some more recommendations?
Young German woman who made several trips to Japan, did one year Working Holiday and started living in Japan again since Oct' 2016. Love music, cats, traveling and food.
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Not quite as spectacular as some of the places you've listed in your post but if people want to avoid the costs of going up Skytree there's a bit of a viewing area on the restaurant floor of the building that rises up from Solamachi. Maybe it goes up to around the 30th floor, I think. And it's free, of course!
@Tomuu That one also sounds nice. I will see if I can visit next time I'm around that area.