An endless sea of colours, lights and buildings, Tokyo looks distinctive and electrifying from above. I tend to feel small when looking high up at monumentally large buildings or high rocky mountains. For the first time, I had the same sensation when I found myself high up, looking over Tokyo from above. The vast city expanding way beyond the horizon was a reminder of the real size of world’s biggest metropolis. When walking around the small markets of Asakusa or discovering the dark and narrow side streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo seems a normal sized city like any other. In order to appreciate the magnitude of Japan’s capital, you must find the best spots to admire Tokyo’s true proportions.
The Best Spots To See Tokyo From Above - Contents
Roppongi Hills and Skydeck
The Roppongi Hills are home to the Mori building, a 54 story skyscraper with a sky deck open to visitors. There is an entry fee of 2300 yen per adult. I suggest buying your tickets in advance so you can save up to 300 yen and avoid the long queues. This is a popular tourist spot hence it’s bound to get busy. Make sure you allocate the time you need to truly enjoy amazing views over Tokyo. When you go onto the Sky Deck, make sure to queue for the professional photographer for your amazing rooftop picture. You can collect it on your way out. There is a fancy bar and restaurant if you wish to eat while enjoying the view. You are guaranteed to dine in style. I visited during night time, so I could capture Tokyo’s lit soul. If you don’t have a professional camera with which you can take decent night photos, I strongly suggest visiting the Roppongi Hills during daylight.
Located in the Skyscraper district in Shinjuku, the Government building allows you free admission to its 45th floor, where you can enjoy epic views over Tokyo. Unfortunately there is no sky deck here, thus you will have to take your pictures through the glass. At first I found it a bit difficult to photograph the city without the reflection being visible, but you can get the hang of it.
Before heading to the top, you will have to leave your belongings in a locker so have a few coins handy. The lift will take you straight to the 45th floor where you can enjoy a bit of shopping and a nice dinner and drink.
Although not as tall as the Roppongi Hills, it’s a great compromise if you find yourself on a tight budget, wanting to save 2300 yen.
In order to truly be on the highest building in Japan and world’s tallest tower in the world, head over to Tokyo Skytree, located in the Sumida district. Being 634m, the tallest free-standing broadcasting tower, it got its well-deserved entry in the Guinness World Records in 2011.
In terms of tickets, you have two options here, you can either get as far up as the Tembo or pay a little extra and make it to the Tembo Gallery at 450m. Although the prices are a bit dear, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views. If you wish to make the most out of your visit, I recommend checking the sunset time so you can arrive just on time for a beautiful vanilla sky and outstanding colours painted over Japan’s capital.
Although it is only the second largest building in Japan, many prefer seeing the views of Tokyo from the Tokyo tower. This is due to the fact that it has become a representative icon to Tokyo, the same way the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The tower measures 332.9 m in height and the observatory is located 150m up. There is also a special observatory (250m) if you really want to catch a glimpse of Tokyo's rooftops. The fee is 900 yen for the main observatory and another 700 yen if you wish to go up to the special observatory.
My favourite experience was at the Sky Deck because I could be out and about on a rooftop, where I could use my tripod and take truly stunning pictures of Tokyo. Although it was very busy even at late night, I could really take my time and enjoy the views. Hence, if I can recommend visiting just one of the four already mentioned attractions, I would suggest going to the Roppongi Hills.
The mighty Starbucks in Shibuya
This is not a skyscraper and does not offer crazy views over Tokyo, but, it offers brilliant photo and video opportunities over the famed Shibuya scramble. I read many articles in which people continuously ask for the best spot to check out Shibuya crossing. Well, this is it. It does get busy, and you might have to queue quite a bit before it's your turn next to the window, but it's well worth it.
The secret spot in Harajuku
For the secret spot in Harajuku, I'm about to send you to yet another Starbucks. Honestly, I'm not a crazy fan of the brand, but so far they had some amazingly good locations in Tokyo. This particular Starbucks is located on Tokyo Plaza Omotesando's top floor. They have a super chilled and relaxing roof terrace, which looks wonderful. It's a great place to interact with young locals and try to make friends. Above all? You will get some nice views of Tokyo's streets. Sure, you won't be at 250m above ground, but still, it's nice to see the sunset whilst enjoying a good cuppa.
Accommodation in Tokyo
Shinjuku tends to be the prefered accommodation option for most first time travellers in Tokyo. I tend to agree, although I personally prefer the quieter quarters of Chiyoda. Whether you are a budget, midrange or luxury traveller, we curated our favourite accommodation in Tokyo to make sure you are comfortable and enjoy your stay. Alternatively, please check where to stay in Tokyo for more options.
Which skyscraper did you visit during your Japan itinerary? Tell me all about the amazing views you experienced in the comment section below.