When looking for good views of Tokyo, most tourists probably think of either the Tokyo Tower or the newly built Tokyo Skytree. While both of these locations offer great views, Tokyo has a variety of lesser known (and less expensive) observatories to enjoy, each with its own flavor and views. The Sunshine Tower in Ikebukuro likely falls into this latter category. Although it may not be the best known, it holds its own as far as observatories go.
The first unique point about the Sunshine Tower is the elevator which brings you to the observatory on the 60th floor. This elevator is touted as one of the fastest in the world. Carrying passengers at a whopping 60 meters per minute, it takes just a little over 30 seconds to go from the ground level to the top floor. Tickets for the observatory itself are purchased at the observatory level. At a cost of 620 yen, it isn't the least expensive observatory in Tokyo, but it's considerably less expensive than some.
Several things aside from the views will jump out at you as you enter the observatory. First is the number of comfortable couches and chairs from which to enjoy the views. These are perfectly located for watching the sunset and relaxing. Another unique feature of the Sunshine Tower is the walk up windows. Several of these vertigo inducing windows are located around the observatory, where visitors can stand as close as they want to look down the full 60 floors.
If you get hungry while you're enjoying the views, there's a small restaurant with plenty of seats to choose from. Several of these seats are placed next to windows, so you can continue to enjoy the views while you eat and drink.
Speaking of those views, they are fantastic! Though the tower isn't centrally located, it still offers a great vantage point for many of Tokyo's most famous landmarks. Aside from being a great location to see the Skytree, on clear days this observatory also boasts a nice view of Mt Fuji. Among other sights are the many skyscraper districts of Tokyo, the mountains surrounding the city, and landscapes reaching well into Chiba Prefecture.
For those interested in photography, I found this observatory to be one of the most friendly. Most observatories have no tripod rules, which can make nighttime photography very difficult if not impossible. If the Sunshine Tower has such a rule, it was not enforced when I went. Aside from myself, at least 3 other photographers were using tripods around the observatory. It appeared that as long as you weren't in anyone's way, no one cared if you used one. This is especially nice because the nighttime scenery from the tower is outstanding.
Though there are certainly more glamorous observatories around Tokyo, the Sunshine Tower is worth the trip. Partially due to it being not as famous, it also is not as crowded as some of the others, which means you can enjoy the great views for even longer. Additionally, Ikebukuro is a very active area, so once you're done checking out the views, there are plenty of shopping streets and restaurants to enjoy nearby. When all is said and done, if you're looking for somewhere interesting that every tourist in Tokyo may not see, this is a perfect place to check out.