22 Jun Japan from Above: Observation Towers in Tokyo
Getting a view from above has long been one of my favorite things to do–whether it’s from an aircraft, natural cliff, or an observation tower, I’m always excited for an aerial view. So, when heading to Tokyo, the largest city on earth, we just had to check it out from up high.
Being such a huge city, Tokyo has many options for great views. If you are looking for observation towers in Tokyo, you can head to the iconic Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Roppingi Hills (which is also home to an art museum), Tokyo World Trade Center, Bunkyo a Civic Center, Sundhine 60, and a host of other buildings, such as restaurants, bars and clubs–all with a great view, as well. Even though it was tempting, we just didn’t have enough time to check out every one. The Roppingi Hills was at the top of my list, but unfortunately it was closed for updates during our visit. Instead, we made our way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building and the New York Bar at the Tokyo Park Hyatt.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building:
With two towers, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a great option for getting views of the city. And did I mention it’s free? Because it is! We stopped here twice; we made our way to the south tower for views during the day as it closes at 5:30 p.m., and then we returned after dark for the views from the north tower which closes at 11 p.m. The observation decks are located on the 45th floor at a height of about 662 ft.
The views during the day were fantastic. We could see a large amount of the city and even Mt. Fuji in the distance!
When we returned for night views of the city, we found they weren’t quite as great as the daytime views. There is a restaurant that takes up half the floor, so you can’t see the views in that direction, but what was more frustrating was that they had bright lights inside which caused a huge glare on the glass. The views were still great, but just a bit hindered by these two issues.
It was fun to see the views during both day and night though, so we are glad we made the trip twice! The building’s entrance is just over a half mile walk from the Shinjuku train station. Once there, we found signs directing us exactly where we needed to go for the elevator line. It was all very simple and was a nice, free treat in the city!
New York Bar at Park Hyatt Tokyo:
We were going back and forth about whether we should stop here or not, and I’m so glad we eventually decided to go on our last night in the city. Yes, it can be a bit expensive, especially if you visit after 8 p.m. when there is a ¥2,200 ($18) cover charge, but if you visit before 8pm (7 p.m. on Sunday) and think about your drink or food as the price of admission, it’s actually quite comparable to the entrance fee at some of the other large observation decks in the city. The cover charge is quite pricy in my opinion, but you do get to hear some world renowned jazz musicians play live music for the evening.
We showed up at around 6:30 p.m.–just in time for the sun to start setting and lucked out with a table right by the window. Drinks range from ¥1,200 (about $10) for a cheap beer to ¥1,800 (about $15) and up for mixed drinks, wine and liquor, and food ranges from ¥1,400 to ¥18,900 ($11-$154). For your snacking pleasure, you are served a small bowl of wasabi corn nuts and peanuts free of charge. Our table was perfect with wonderful views, and we had such a relaxed and enjoyable evening. Plus, I’m a sucker for visiting any spot where movies were filmed, so I had fun geeking out over the fact that much of Lost in Translation was shot there.
We stayed for about an hour in total and didn’t have to pay the cover charge. I was surprised that the staff was so friendly and didn’t rush us at all–I would have expected that they would be tired of all the tourists because of the whole movie thing. Thankfully, we had a great time, and I do have to say that it was the perfect way to end a wonderful trip to Japan!