To realise how massive Tokyo is, it's best to head up to one of the many observation decks in the city, where you can look out at our megalopolis, with views that stretch out to as far as the iconic Mt Fuji, Yokohama or Chichibu on a clear day.
The landmark Tokyo Tower is a popular option, especially since it has recently opened the Top Deck, which is at 250 meters high. Tokyo Skytree attracts a fair share of the tourist crowd too; its Tembo Galleria, at a height of 450m, makes the concrete jungle below look like a miniature world − definitely not for those who are afraid of heights.
While a visit to some of these observation decks often come with prices as lofty as the view, we have also included a free option on our list. Here's our guide to the best vantage points in Tokyo, where you can expect to be dazzled by the sprawling cityspace and beautiful architecture.
Also see: Best places to Instagram in Tokyo
Best views in Tokyo
Catch the best views of Tokyo at this 360° open-air observation deck at the rooftop of Shibuya Scramble Square. Shibuya Sky is approximately 230 metres above ground and is the highest point in the district of Shibuya. The ‘Sky Edge’, a corner where you can look down at the cityscape below without any obstruction, is a particularly good photo spot that provides a panoramic view of the city. The rooftop also features hammocks for cloud watching and an observation compass to help you identify major landmarks in the distance such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Stadium and even Mt Fuji (on a clear day). At night, you'll be able to see a light show called the 'Crossing Light' as 18 beams illuminate the city sky.
Located on Sunshine 60’s 251m-high top floor, this observation deck features funfair-style attractions – think VR-enhanced adventure rides and a mirror-covered photo spot – right next to a superb 360° view over the city. Try and spot the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Mt Fuji and Yokohama’s Landmark Tower in this Instagram-worthy panorama.
This Tokyo landmark celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with the opening of its top deck, 100m above the existing 150m-high main observation deck, to the public. There’s more than just a good photo op here. The mirrored ceiling and wall create a kaleidoscopic effect of the city view, complemented by special light effects after dark. The entrance fee also comes with a souvenir photo and a multilingual audio guide explaining the major buildings and landmarks in the skyline.
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 Skytree. The ticket price includes admittance to the excellent Mori Art Museum.
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 (¥2,060 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. Free entry
The tallest freestanding tower in the world rises to a height of 634m over the Sumida-ku skyline. While its main function is as a broadcasting tower, offering considerably improved television reception, the Tokyo Skytree is also one of the capital's go-to tourist destinations. The two platforms, one at a height of 350m and the second one at 450m, provide superb views of the city. Check out the area around its base as well, which is home to Tokyo Skytree Town, a complex boasting 310 shops and restaurants.