The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building towers over the west side of Shinjuku and is hard to miss. It provides visitors with a free view of Tokyo and is worth the 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station. The view from either of the two observation decks helps to get your bearings, before heading back out into the city.
The building was built in 1991 by Tange Kenzō, one of Japan’s most honoured Architects. He is famous for combining traditional Japanese designs with Modernism. Tange Kenzō also designed of the main building at the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Museum.
The entrance to this free view point is under a bridge just before the Shinjuku Chuo Park. From there you can take a left or a right to the bottom of the north or south tower. Both towers stand 202 meters high with similar views. Therefore, it is best to base your decision on the length of the line for the lift.
Bag checks are carried out by staff for security reasons before you enter the lift. It may be better to leave your larger bags in a coin locker. Otherwise you will have someone rummaging through your large backpack, like I encountered on the day I visited.
The lift takes a quick 55 seconds to reach the 45th floor and you are greeted by friendly staff. They are genuinely happy to see you, even though they say the same thing every 3 minutes.
The view from the building is breathtaking and that is not because it is free. It is best to visit the observatory deck early in the day for a great view. The Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Dome, Meji Shrine and Mt Fuji can all be seen from the building on a clear day.
A souvenir shop is located at both observatories with a variety of toys, lollies, postcards and other cute keepsakes for sale. If all of the sightseeing leaves you hungry there are also cafes and vending machines in both the north and south towers.
If you love to see a city at night, the north observatory is open until 11pm. There is also a bar operating to serve drinks with a view at a reasonable price.