Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, located in the Shinjuku ward, is one of the most easily recognizable buildings in Tokyo. The first time I saw it was outside my hotel window while staying across the street at the Keio Plaza Hotel on my first trip to Japan. I’ve since seen it innumerable times in different anime and it makes a brief appearance on the episode of The Simpsons where the family takes a vacation to Tokyo. The building is essentially Tokyo City Hall and houses the offices that govern all 23 wards, towns, and villages, that make up greater Tokyo.
Why is this cool? Well, just look at the building. Not only is it one of those buildings that you just can’t seem to stop taking pictures of, but you can head inside and go to the top of one of the 48 story towers, for free. You would think that a building that cost about one billion dollars in tax payer money might want to recoup some of that by at least charging tourists to take the elevator, but you’d be wrong. Free.
Before heading to the top you should swing by the tourist information center and pick up the free maps and guides that are available. One of the maps I grabbed here has returned to Tokyo with me more than once.
When you reach the observatory you’ll find a wide open space with unbelievable views of Tokyo, a cafe, and of course, a souvenir shop. If you come early in the morning on a clear day you can sometimes see Mt Fuji in the distance. I’ve only ever seen the outline, or shadowy shape, of Mt Fuji from here, but I’ll keep trying. If you’ve been lucky enough to get a shot of Mt Fuji from one of the observation decks, please leave a link to your shot in the comments, I’d love to see it.
Another nice thing about the observation decks is that they’re open late, really late, try 11:00PM late, so you can get great shots of Tokyo at night as well. So if you’re putting together an itinerary for your first, or next, trip to Tokyo, make sure you add the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, it’s free and it’s worth it.
Open: 9:30AM – 11:00PM (Admission until 30 minutes before closing)
South Observatory opens until 5:30PM (Until 11:00PM if North Observatory is closed)
Closed: South Observatory: 1st and 3rd Tuesday
North Observatory: 2nd and 4th Monday
Open if the above day falls on a public holiday and closed on the following day.
Closed from December 29 to 31, January 2 and 3, and on TMG Building inspection days.
Observatory Information Desk – 03-5320-7890
Here’s a short video I took from one of the observation decks when I visited with my friends Luke and Travis.