Famously photogenic and filled with national landmarks both modern and natural, the Tokyo cityscape is not to be missed. What was originally a city of canals is now a bustling metropolis, from Tokyo Bay and the outskirts of Chiba in the east to the rolling mountains of Okutama in the west. Take advantage of spring’s sunny days and get an incredible bird’s eye views of Tokyo from these observation decks and viewpoints – all completely free.
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Get your camera ready
Much like the Eiffel Tower, climbing Tokyo Skytree gives you a view of the city without one of its most distinctive features. Instead, see the star of the show from neighbouring shopping mall Tokyo Solamachi. Take the glass elevator to the 30th floor, walk past the restaurants, and you’ll have an unparalleled view of the city. Since Solamachi is so close to Skytree, you might have to squat down to see the very top of the 634m tower. Squint ahead and you’ll see Skytree’s smaller sibling, Tokyo Tower, and on a clear day, a white-capped Mt Fuji will make an appearance on the horizon.
Currently closed until March 15.
Above the bustling tuna auction and delectable sashimi restaurants is a calm garden on the rooftop of the Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market Building of Toyosu Market. Take in the urban cityscape of Tokyo Bay which includes the iconic Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower. If you’re not lucky enough to grab a seat at one of the restaurants, take a picnic and chill on the grassy rooftop instead.
Ride the glass elevator to the 46th floor of Caretta Shiodome for an aerial view of east Tokyo. You’ll see the Hamarikyu Gardens, catch a glimpse of the futuristic Fuji Television headquarters and see the Rainbow Bridge connecting Odaiba to the mainland. As you descend in the elevator, take a peek to your right and you’ll see Tokyo Skytree. Combine the cityscape view with a free museum visit – the Advertising Museum Tokyo on the bottom floor of Caretta Shiodome is also free to check out.
It's hard to miss the stunning Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center designed by Kengo Kuma, located across the street from another visitor magnet, Sensoji Temple's Kaminarimon gate. Besides offering free guided tours, currency exchange and an information desk, the eight-storey building also sports a (covered) observation deck, which offers the best views of Sensoji without having to jostle through the crowds. The deck is open until 10pm so you can also admire the grand temple lit up at night. You'll find exhibitions and cultural events on the other floors but if you're short of battery power best make a beeline for the street-facing counter on the second floor – it's fitted with electrical charging points.
This observatory can be accessed directly from Korakuen or Kasuga stations without setting foot outside, making it a perfect option for when it’s raining. You’ll love the panorama of Shinjuku from the 105m-high deck protruding from its spaceship-like office building, and more so because the slanted windows reduce glare and reflection from sunlight. You’ll get Mt Fuji on a clear day while dusk makes for a spectacular shot when the setting sun is in view – just keep your eye on the clock, though, as the deck closes at 8.30pm even though the building is open until 10pm.
Currently closed until March 15.
The government-owned towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building are a regular feature at the top of tourist to-do lists, and for good reason. The North and South Towers each boast a free observatory on their 45th floors, which unveil jaw-dropping views of Shinjuku's famed skyscraper and beyond. Both towers feature a souvenir shop as well as an affordable cafeteria – but the South Tower has the added distinction of housing an eye-catching yellow, polka-dot piano designed by Yayoi Kusama, which is free for anyone who might want to tinkle out an impromptu sky-high recital.
The top floor of this extremely orange-coloured 26-storey building is a great place to enjoy amazing views toward the Bay Bridge while lounging on one of the comfy sofas. Don't expect close-up views of skyscrapers here as Sangenjaya, while just two stops away from Shibuya on the metro, is largely low-rise and residential. On a clear day, you might even get an unobstructed view of Mt Fuji. There's also a restaurant and a more affordable café if you're feeling peckish.
In providing views out over eastern Tokyo, this 115m-high observation deck is something of a rarity. From here you can see the traditional neighbourhood of Edogawa, where the tower is located, Kasai Rinkai Park and its ferris wheel, the Tokyo Skytree and Mt Tsukuba in the distance. The building, which houses offices, restaurants, concert halls and a cinema, is easily identified by its sailboat-like structure jutting into the sky. If you’re lucky, you might even see the occasional fireworks from Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea.
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