Tokyo boasts one of the most interesting and beautiful skylines in the world featuring natural landmarks, impressive skyscrapers to unique man-made attractions.
The observation decks at Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower and Mori Tower are all well-known tourist hotspots.
But did you know that there are many observatories in Tokyo where you can take in the beautiful views of the skyline for FREE and which are less crowded?
Check out my guide on the lesser-known, free observation areas which are worth the visit.
- 1. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shinjuku City)
- 2. Bunkyo Civic Center (Bunkyo City)
- 3. Caretta Shiodome (Minato City)
- 4. Asakusa Culture Information Center (Taito City)
- 5. Yebisu Garden Place (Shibuya City)
- 6. Carrot Tower (Setagaya City)
- 7. Tower Hall Funabori (Edogawa City)
- 8. Hokutopia (Kita City)
- 9. Shinjuku NS Building (Shinjuku City)
- 10. Shinjuku Nomura Building (Shinjuku City)
- 11. Odaiba Seaside Park (Minato City)
1. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shinjuku City)
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (or City Hall) in Shinjuku is the most recommended place to visit for an amazing 360° panoramic view of the Tokyo skyline view for free.
The building consists of twin towers each with a free observation deck on the 45th floors of both towers. From there, you will get views from 202 meters (663 feet) above the ground.
The observation decks allow you to see from Tokyo Bay to Mt. Fuji which includes Meiji Jingu, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and on a clear day, Mt. Fuji.
PRO TIP: The wait to get onto the elevator to the the observation deck is around 20 - 30 minutes so plan accordingly.
The South observation deck is particularly good for a night view.
You will also find cafes and souvenir shops at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
Check out the official English website for more photos on the views you can get plus the observatory schedule.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Address: 45F, 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:30 to 23:00 (entry until 22:30)
Height: 202 meters (663 feet)
Closed: See observatory schedule
2. Bunkyo Civic Center (Bunkyo City)
The Bunkyo Civic Center is another government building with a free observation deck, which is located on the 25th floor at 105 meters (344 feet) high.
From the Sky View Lounge, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Tokyo featuring Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Skytree and Shinjuku.
On a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tsukuba in the distance.
Bunkyō City Hall
Address: 1 Chome-16-21 Kasuga, Bunkyo City, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 to 20:00
Closed: 3rd Sunday in May, December 29 to January 3
Height: 105 meters (344 feet)
3. Caretta Shiodome (Minato City)
The Caretta Shiodome in Minato is a commercial complex with shopping, dining, a theater, a museum and more.
The 46th and 47th floors of Caretta Shiodome, which are 200 meters (656 feet) above ground, are the restaurant levels.
Open to public, the restaurant levels allow you to enjoy views of Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, old Tsukiji Market, Toyosu, Shinjuku, Odaiba, Hamarikyu Gardens, the Rainbow Bridge, Ginza and more.
Please note that the Carette Shiodome view is not truly an observation deck as the views are through multiple windows rather than a panoramic, all-around 360° view. The viewing windows are noted here to be 10 meters across and divided into three sections that give roughly a 170° field of view.
However, many have found it to be a fantastic viewing spot (day or night) that is free and near Tokyo Bay.
To reach the restaurant level, you take a very unique glass elevator, which takes you 200 meters up in just 40 seconds. Many have noted the elevator ride to be an incredible highlight of the visit.
There are 8 restaurants spanning the 46th and 47th floors each with a different view. The cuisine offered ranges from Japanese to bar-type.
Check out the Caretta Shiodome website to see the menus and to see each type of landmarks you can see from each restaurant (see my screenshot below).
While it doesn't seem mandatory to dine at one of the restaurants, check out the restaurant and bar offerings if you want to enjoy a sit-down dining experience with a view.
Address: 1-8-2 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato City, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00 - 23:30
Height: 200 meters (656 feet)
4. Asakusa Culture Information Center (Taito City)
The Asakusa Information Center boasts a contemporary wooden structure and features exhibitions, cultural activities and is staffed by multilingual volunteers.
The building is located near the outer gate to one of the most famous Buddhist temples and top attractions in Tokyo: Sensoji Temple.
For some spectacular views, visit the free observation deck on the 7th floor for sights of Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Skytree.
PRO TIP: If you are visiting Sensoji Temple, waft incense for health and good luck. Read more about visiting Sensoji Temple here.
Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
Address: 2 Chome-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito City, Tokyo
Hours: 9 am - 8 pm
5. Yebisu Garden Place (Shibuya City)
The Yebisu Garden Place stands on the former grounds of the Yebisu Beer Brewery, which in 1890 created one of Japan's top-selling beers.
Take in the city skyline for free on the restaurant floors (38th and 39th floors) of the Yebisu Garden Place's tower block. You will get views from 160 meters (525 feet) above ground.
You can also enjoy nighttime of Tokyo views from Yebisu Garden Place.
Pro Tip: While you are there, visit the Yebisu Beer museum which pays homage to the beer and how it came to be. Guided tours are available, and you can visit a tasting room where you can try various types of Yebisu on tap (both options cost a small fee).
Yebisu Garden Place @ Ebisu Garden Place
Address: 4 Chome-20-3 Ebisu, Shibuya City, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00 - 23:00 (Monday - Friday); 11:30 - 22:00 (Saturday & Sunday)
Height: 160 meters (525 feet)
6. Carrot Tower (Setagaya City)
Located in Tokyo's Setagaya ward, Carrot Tower is an orange-colored commercial building with a free observation deck on the 26th floor at 124 meters (407 feet) high. Guests can take in the view towards Bay Bridge while relaxing on one of the comfortable sofas.
While the views are mostly of low-rise and residential buildings, Shibuya, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree (in the far distance) can be seen from the north side while the south side presents views of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
Carrot Tower is the home of the company that created the Pokémon series. You will also find shops, a gallery, a restaurant, and a theatre.
Address: 〒154-0004 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Taishido, 4 Chome−1−1 キャロットタワー13F
Hours: 9:30 - 23:00, closed 2nd Wednesday each month
Height: 124 meters (407 feet)
7. Tower Hall Funabori (Edogawa City)
Located in Edogawa City, Tower Hall Funabori is a community and recreation centre with an observation tower that resembles a sailboat.
The observatory deck is 115 meters (377 feet) above ground and offers 360° panoramic views of Edogawa and the Tokyo skyline. Landmarks that can be seen include the Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and Mount Fuji.
Pro Tip: Apparently, there is a special floor for photographers or people who want to use a tripod. You will be given a special armband to give you accesss to the "photographer's floor." A staff member will also let you off on the right floor. Read more here.
To access the observatory floor, you need to head up to the 7th floor where you will then take a special elevator to the observatory.
Tower Hall Funabori
Address: 4 Chome-1-1 Funabori, Edogawa City, Tokyo
Hours: 09:00 to 21:30
Height: 115 meters (377 feet)
8. Hokutopia (Kita City)
Located in Kita City and close to Oji Station, Hokutopia is a cultural centre with an observatory on the 17th floor. The view is about 270 degrees at a height of 88.3 meters (290 feet) above ground.
If you love to watch trains, Hokutopia is one of the best places for that. You can see bullet trains (known as Shinkansens) pass by.
The surrounding area is not as developed which fewer skyscrapers, so you will get less impeded views of taller landmarks such as Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. Other views include Sumi River, Asukayama Park and more.
Address: 1 Chome-11-1 Oji, Kita City, Tokyo
Height: 88.3 meters (290 feet)
Hours: 8:30 - 22:00
9. Shinjuku NS Building (Shinjuku City)
The Shinjuku NS Building is another building where you can enjoy views of Tokyo.
The viewing area is on the 29th floor where many restaurants are co-located. You can expect to see the historic Shinjuku Sumitomo Building from the north side. On the south side, you can see the skyscrapers of Shibuya, Meiju Jinhu, Yoyogi Park and more.
While the views may not be the best (even for free), the Shinjuku NS Building has a rather unique interior with a huge atrium, a large clock with moving parts, and a sky bridge.
Shinjuku NS Building
Address: 2 Chome-４−番1号 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00 - 22:00
Height: 130 meters (427 feet)
10. Shinjuku Nomura Building (Shinjuku City)
The Nomura Building is a 50-story skyscraper in Shinjuku's business district with a small observatory on the 50th floor.
At 200 meters (656 feet), you can enjoy views of West Shinjuku, Nakano, and distant mountain ranges including Mt. Fuji on a clear day.
Shinjuku Nomura Building
Address: 1-26-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hours: 7:00 - 0:00
Height: 200 meters (656 feet)
11. Odaiba Seaside Park (Minato City)
Located on a man-made island, Odaiba Seaside Park offers majestic waterfront views of Tokyo.
From the park, you can see Rainbow Bridge which connects mainland Tokyo with the Island. At night, the bridge is spectacularly illuminated.
Some interesting attractions at Odaiba Park include a 12.5-meter tall replica of the Statue of Liberty which was installed in April 1998 to celebrate France-Japan international relations.
There is one of the world's tallest Ferris Wheels, standing at 115 meters tall, which offers stunning views of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay.
Address: 1 Chome-4 Daiba, Minato City, Tokyo
Hours: Open 24 hours
*Closed* Shinjuku Sumitomo Building (Shinjuku City)
Located across the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building which had free viewing observation deck on the 51st floor. However, it was reported as of January 2020 (see here) that the building is undergoing a lot of renovation and the observation deck is now closed.
To find out what to do in Tokyo in 2020, check out my guide here.