Shinjuku is a lively district made accessible by the massive Shinjuku station, which connects a number of major lines in the city. Surrounding the station are mostly department stores. The east side of the station is dominated mostly by blocks and block of department stores, restaurants and entertainment outlets. On the west is the city’s business district, where all the conglomerates and their skyscrapers stand.
If you want to see how beautiful the Tokyo skyline is, you should head to the west.
This route we took, walking on the major road that’s heading toward the business district, is one I’ve always enjoyed. You’d imagine the area to be busy, but that isn’t the case, most of the time. Unless it’s the rush hour, expect less people and less traffic. Buildings are erected a distance away from each other and pavements are wider. The area’s super clean, too.
But of course, we weren’t there just to walk. We were going to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (also fondly known as Tokyo Tocho), a building located a few hundred meters away from Shinjuku Station’s west exit.
Tokyo Tocho is Tokyo’s very own city hall. Being one of the tallest building in Tokyo, it’s impossible to miss. On both the North and South towers, there are observatories on the 45th floor, which are open to the public.
Once you’re near, it’s easy to get in. Just follow the many signs and you’ll be led to the assembly area of the buildings.
Once we arrived at the assembly area above, we headed toward the lobby of the main building, the one which connects both towers. At the lobby, we followed more signs and were led to the observatory elevator. Went through a quick security check before we were allowed to go into the elevator.
You can choose to go up to either the North observatory or the South observatory. I went up the North (but the observatory at the South tower has the better view, I heard). Anyway, here’s the view that greeted us that day, 202 meters above ground.
The observatory lets us see a 360° view of Tokyo. On a clear day, visitors can expect to see a good view of Mount Fuji from the observatory. It was unfortunately cloudy on this particular day, but we did get to see most of Tokyo, including Tokyo Skytree.
I can imagine how breathtaking the view would be, at night.
Inside the observatory, there’s a souvenir shop where visitors can buy different sorts of souvenirs and collectibles. In Japan, expect the souvenirs to be a lot more fun. If you’re a child at heart, you’ll go crazy over the interesting toys that they have on display.
There’s also a cafe just opposite the shops, but it was closed for renovation.
There are a couple of observatories which lets you see Tokyo’s skyline. Compared to the others, I think Tokyo Tocho provides a good view, despite being a relatively older observatory. It is afterall strategically located in the heart of Shinjuku. Unlike the others, this one’s free!
So if you’re planning to give Shinjuku a visit on a bright day (or night, actually), don’t forget to give the observatories at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building a visit.
Read more about the opening hours of the observatory here.