Tokyo City Hall Observatories

360 degree view of colossal Tokyo, free of charge

By Tomoko Kamishima    - 3 min read


The North Observatory is closed from May 2019 until January 2020 due to renovations. During these renovations, the South Observatory can still be visited and is open until 23:00 with last entry at 22:30.

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Tokyo is one of the largest and most exciting cities in the world. If you had a chance to see the entire city at the same time, you would grab it, wouldn’t you? You can obtain that fabulous Tokyo view, almost whenever you want, by dropping in at the free observatory at Tocho (the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office) in Shinjuku.

Looking out the huge, tall, floor-to-ceiling windows, only one-sixth of the view includes far-away mountains, buildings and the city; the remaining five-sixths is filled with the deep blue sky, or stunning orange evening glow. You will soon realize that the entire city region and her environs are totally flat. This is a big reason why Tokyo was so easily able to expand into this tremendous metropolis, beginning 400 years ago when Edo was nothing more than a tiny village situated on the bay. This flat area is actually called the Kanto Plain and it stretches into Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaragi, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Far in the distance, you can see some mountain ranges, such as the three mountains of Jomo and Nikko-renzan in the north, and Hakone and Mt. Fuji in the west.

Daytime view

Just like in other big cities around the world, Tokyo in the daytime is always hazy. To get a nice clear view from the observatory, which is 202 meters high (Yokohama’s Landmark Tower is 296 meters high), go there in the morning. Not only for the clear view, but also to enjoy the brilliant gradations of blue in the sky.

Sunset view—Diamond Fuji

If you visit around sunset, I recommend going to the north tower observatory because of the angle you get. The west windows will be crowded with people waiting for a dynamic sunset and a silhouette of Mt. Fuji. Early in April and September are very special seasons in that the sun sets just on top of Mt. Fuji. It looks like a diamond sparkling on the peak of this world famous mountain. We call it “Diamond Fuji”. Don’t miss it if you are lucky enough to come to Japan at that time.

Security check

All visitors have to be checked at the entrance. The guards will ask you to open your bag. Be sure not to bring any dangerous objects with you!!

The elevator

After you pass through the security check, use the special elevators for each observatory room. It rises up to the 45th floor in a speedy 55 seconds (240 m/min.).

The observatory room

Both north and south observatory rooms (towers) are basically the same shape and width. Each room is 1000 meters square and the ceiling is 18 meters high. The walls are covered with huge windows and there are several benches in the center of each room. There are also some souvenir shops and cafes.

More info

Find out more about Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

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Tomoko Kamishima

Tomoko Kamishima @tomoko.kamishima

Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS:  An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here.  日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。

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JapanTravel Guest
JapanTravel Guest 7 years ago
Great views from the north tower yesterday, but I suspect the south is a bit better. Fuji can be seen from both, but the full Yoyogi and Meiji-jingu area can only be seen from the south tower.
nylover 7 years ago
How far can you see from here? Is this the best observatory in the area?