Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories

Attractions, Sightseeing Shinjuku
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories
Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories
Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Time Out says

Kenzo Tange's domineering Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is worth visiting purely to have a good look at its spectacular edifice, but it's also home to a pair of free observation decks that have become a popular stop on many tourist itineraries. For good reason, too: unlike other contenders like Roppongi Hills (¥1,800) and Tokyo Skytree (¥2,100 and counting), the TMG's observatories are completely free of charge. Particularly popular at sunset, when clear days afford good views of Mt Fuji, the observation decks also serve refreshments.



Address: 45F Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

Transport: Shinjuku Station, west exit
Opening hours: South deck 9.30am-11pm (last entry 10.30pm), closed 1st & 3rd Tue of every month / The north deck is temporarily closed until January 14, 2020

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2 / 5

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observatories are a free alternative to the Tokyo SkyTree and Tokyo Tower attractions. An attractive prospect, but in this case I'm afraid you get what you pay for. 

With two observatories (North and South) open at different hours, the building offers views across Tokyo and beyond. This review concerns the North Tower at night, when we experienced it. Firstly, the observatories are slightly challenging to get to from Shinjuku; there's a seemingly endless walk underground which is well signposted for the most part but then peters off towards the end. To find the entrance to the North Observatory you currently have to wend your way through construction walls and an area sadly populated by rough sleepers (a rare sight in Tokyo).

Once you reach the top of the building, the observatory is rather disappointing. The floor space is largely taken up with tacky shops (and on this occasion a tonne of cardboard boxes), leaving very little space to actually look out the windows. At night, the lights are so bright that it's difficult to see much through the reflections on the glass. The Tokyo skyline is impressive in its vast scale, but beyond that isn't the most interesting. 

We also attempted to get into the restaurant, but after being ignored at the head of a queue for ten minutes, we decided to cut our losses and make our descent. In all, it was a forgettable experience that I'm glad I didn't pay for!