Tokyo's got some pretty incredible views, but you'll really want to take it in during the evening when the city's all lit up with twinkling lights in a multitude of colours. Better yet, these evening views are taken to a whole new level during the cold months of autumn and winter when Tokyo goes all out with its annual light-ups and illuminations. Love a good view? Here's where you can take in the best night sights around the capital.
Bright lights in the big city
While this entertainment district in Shinjuku has a rather questionable reputation, it also features a lot of hidden spots and rare gems that can't be found anywhere else in Tokyo. Kabukicho is full of restaurants, bars and karaoke joints, and also features movie theatres and live houses. Don't forget to stop by the flashy main entrance, which has gathered quite a crowd for its photogenic visage in the evenings.
Tokyo’s oldest and grandest temple is wildly busy during the day, but visiting after dark is usually far more rewarding: crowds are manageable, the mighty temple structures are lit up until 11pm, and the closed rolling doors of the 250m Nakamise-dori shopping street are straight out of an Ikuo Hirayama painting. For a great aerial view, head to the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center across the road from Sensoji's main gate. The rooftop viewing deck is open till 8pm.
The tallest freestanding tower in the world is one of the capital's go-to tourist destinations and makes for a pretty great photo op. Tokyo Skytree is brightly lit up in the evenings, making it pretty hard to miss from various standpoints around the city. For a good photo, head across the Sumida River near Asakusa(Sensoji Nitenmon) Pier where you can see the entire tower without having to strain your neck.
Located on the 52nd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, this observatory provides an impressive 360-degree bird’s-eye view of Tokyo, including landmarks like Shinjuku Gyoen, the National Diet Building, Tokyo Tower and the Sky Tree. The ticket price includes admittance to the excellent Mori Art Museum. Better yet, with an additional ¥500, you get to head up to the open-air sky deck for a truly breathtaking view of the sprawling metropolis.
Roppongi Hills happens to be the perfect vantage point to catch the iconic Tokyo Tower. You'll find a few prime spots around the central terrace area just behind the giant Maman spider sculpture, or on the pedestrian bridge that hangs over Keyakizaka-dori. We suggest you head over in the evening where you can see the tower lit up in all its orange glory, framed on both sides by rows of buildings. A visit in winter is especially photogenic as the trees along Keyakizaka-dori are adorned with sparkling holiday illuminations.
A frenzy no matter what time of day, Shibuya's famed crossing is no less busy once the sun sets. The sheer amount of lights from the surrounding billboards and buildings almost make it seem like it's still light out, but you definitely get a different feel when you are fighting the crowd crossing the junction. For a better photo, catch the spectacle from above; the bridge overpass between Shibuya Mark City and Tokyu Department Store is a good spot.
The city's most famous bridge was built in 1993 over Tokyo Bay and is shaped like a rainbow – obviously. It connects Shibaura pier with Odaiba and carries the Metropolitan Expressway's No 11 Daiba Route and the futuristic Yurikamome line. Catch the best view in the evening when the bridge really lives up to its name and you'll see the entire arch cast with a fury of rainbow lights. The best place to snap some photos? Head over to Odaiba where both Daiba Park and Odaiba Kaihin-Koen offer excellent views of the sprawling bridge.
December 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of Tokyo Station, whose distinctive red-brick facade is a prominent reminder of Japan’s rush to modernisation in the early 20th century. There’s no better place to admire a historic icon of the capital. The station has been looking particularly spiffy after an extensive restoration a few years back. A major spot for many travellers passing in and out of the city, the sprawling station is a sight to see during the evenings when it's entire facade is lit up with warm lights.
Since opening in 1889, this cherished symbol of Ginza has undergone multiple facelifts and renovations, but it has always remained a shrine to kabuki (classic Japanese dance-drama). After its reopening in 2013 – following an extensive renovation designed by Kengo Kuma – the building is now lit up beautifully after dark. After marvelling at the exterior, venture inside and take in a kabuki show where performances held most days of the month.