Tokyo is famous for some of the best views and cityscape photography in the world, but with Tokyo being as big as it is, sometimes it can be difficult to find the right location to take it all in.
Below are some of the top observation decks in Tokyo that will take your breath away, or at the very least, have you reaching for your camera.
They all have their own unique charms and one isn't necessarily better than the other, but if you time in Tokyo is limited, this might help you figure out which ones are worth checking out.
1. Shibuya Sky
The newest and perhaps most modern viewing experience of Tokyo to date, Shibuya Sky takes elements found in other older observation decks and adds its own unique twist to deliver something truly memorable.
Shibuya Sky opened in November 2019 and peaks at 229 meters (751 Feet). Although certainly not the tallest view on this list, you’ll hardly notice, as the place is designed to never let you forget how far from the ground you are.
Shibuya Sky’s experience begins with a journey from the 14th floor by entering the “Sky Gate”; granting you a ride in a transition pod elevator, taking you to the 45th floor. From there you can relax in “Paradise Lounge” - a music bar where you can enjoy the view of Shibuya with a modern menu of foods based on the theme of “flying”.
Then the main attraction, the “Sky Stage”. An open-air rooftop located on the 47th floor surrounded by tall glass panels that allow you to get very close and personal to the beautiful vista view of Shibuya.
Without a doubt, Shibuya Sky offers the best view of the Shibuya district and is now a contender for the ultimate viewing experience in the whole of Tokyo. With entrance fees around 2000 Yen and located next to the east exit of JR Shibuya Station, if you are on the hunt for the best view of Tokyo, Shibuya Sky is a great place to start.
With its opening in 2012, At 637 meters (2090 feet) Tokyo's Skytree became the tallest tower and the second tallest structure in the world, outdone only by Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
With Skytree only being a 5-minute walk from Oshiage Station, it is relatively easy to get to, but you may find the tower's location a bit out of the way from other popular tourist locations. If you plan on using the popular Yamanote line, you may need to transfer trains up to 3 times to make your way here.
With sunset being the best time to visit and witness the sun's amber light crest across Tokyo's metropolis landscape, making the Skytree the last stop on a day of sightseeing can be a beautiful way to end.
Unfortunately, I'm not alone in that thought.
The evening can be some of Skytree's busiest operating hours, so unless you are willing to go early in the morning and miss out on the gorgeous sunset view, you may have to brace yourself for long lines and even longer waiting times.
However, Skytree does offer a fast-track option for tourists to help alleviate some of the excessive queuing pains. Normal entry to Skytree will cost 2100 yen (more on holidays), with the fast-track options for tourists coming in at 3200 yen. Don't be cheap here, if you are coming during busy hours, go with the fast-track option - worth every extra yen.
Access to the Tembo Galleria, the highest observation deck in Tokyo Skytree, will cost an additional 1000 Yen. If you only plan to do Skytree once, the Tembo Galleria is a must - you'll only end up regretting it on your invertible second visit back to the tower to finish what you started.
3. Tokyo Tower
Built in 1958, Skytree's older brother, Tokyo Tower, used to be Tokyo's tallest structure. With a height of 332 meters (1092 feet), Tokyo Tower is almost half the height of Skytree, which I'm sure its younger brother never fails to bring up in front of new guests upon their arrival.
Despite its short-comings (couldn't help myself), Tokyo Tower isn't trying to overcompensate for anything - size isn't everything.
Due to its location near Tokyo's financial district, Tokyo Tower is home to one of the best spots to take nighttime shots of the city's landscape. Countless office buildings and intersecting streets frame the city in a halo of fluorescent lighting that can only be experienced in the sun's absence.
Therefore, unlike its taller younger brother, the best time to visit Tokyo Tower is dusk or after sunset, when the moon looms in the sky and the city's nightlife stirs from its slumber.
With the closest train stations being approximately a 10-minute walk away and potential 20-minutes if you are coming from the popular Yamanote line, getting to Tokyo Tower can be slightly more challenging than the other options on this list. However, the journey is almost as memorable as the destination.
Either on your way to or from Tokyo Tower, there are plenty of shrines and temples to visit, but my recommendation would be to take some time to explore Shiba Park and enjoy some of the natural beauty that can be found there.
Admission to Tokyo Tower's top viewing deck is around 2800 Yen, which is cheaper than Tokyo Skytree and comes with a major added benefits - no excessive queuing!
If you book through Tokyo Tower's official website, you can choose a specified time slot for entry; allowing you to skip the long lines and head straight on in. The price of your ticket even includes a tour of the tower itself; great for those interested in a deeper understanding of how and why Tokyo Tower became so iconic.
Not really into history? Prefer Japan's thriving pop culture scene? Don't worry about it, Tokyo Tower has you covered.
In March 2015, Tokyo Tower opened "Tokyo One Piece Tower" - an indoor theme park dedicated to the international phenomenon that is Japan's 'One Piece' manga series.
You can find attractions based on the characters from the manga series such as live entertainment shows, merchandise shops, themed restaurants and special seasonal events. If you are traveling as a family or just one of the many One Piece fans from around the globe, definitely go visit the Straw Hat Crew at Tokyo Tower.
4. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Probably one of the most under-appreciated and overlooked observation decks that most tourists will miss on their visit trip to Tokyo.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building stands at 243 meters (797.2 Feet) and has twin towers, north and south, each housing their own observation decks with panoramic views of the Tokyo landscape - both of which are free to enter!
Located in Shinjuku and only a 10-minute walk from the closest station, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building governs the special wards, cities, towns and villages that are contained within the metropolis Tokyo area.
Due to the governmental nature of the building, visitors will be subjected to a bag check before being allowed to ride the elevator to the 45th floor, but that's a small price to pay for the view.
From the observation decks on a clear day, you can see some of Tokyo's most famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, Meiji Shrine and more!
The evening and night views from the towers are worth making a return trip to see, and with no entrance fee, there is no reason to limit yourself to just one visit.
Both towers of the building contain souvenir shops and cafes for those wanting to take a break and appreciate the view over tea or coffee.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a place to visit for landscape photographers and those of us who prefer to avoid the crowds found at the more well-known observation decks.
5. Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
Located in, you guessed it, Roppongi and standing at 238 meters (781 Feet), Roppongi Hills is a skyscraper that has it all.
From shopping to the Mori Art Museum, the tower has enough to keep you busy for a few hours before or after your trip to the Mori Tower’s 52nd floor to take in some stunning views of the city.
What makes Roppongi Hills unique on this list is the ability to step onto the Sky Deck. The Sky Deck is an open-air rooftop deck that visitors can access when the weather allows for it.
Even if you have no problem with heights, the Sky Deck can be an exciting experience; standing hundreds of meters in the air with the wind cresting across your skin as you look down upon Tokyo - an experience not easily forgotten.
Although cheaper than some of the other options on this list, access to the observation deck with still cost you around 2200 yen, but the experience of the Sky Deck will be completely worth it for some.
6. Park Hyatt Hotel
World-famous as the setting for the 2003 film “Lost In Translation”, at 235 meters (771 Feet) the Park Hyatt Hotel offers a private view of Tokyo right from your bedroom.
Located at the heart of Shinjuku, the hotel’s 52nd floor panoramic view never fails to leave an impression. Outfitted with floor-to-ceiling glass windows in most of the hotel’s common areas, the view calls like a siren’s song and you’ll find yourself staring down at the sea of Tokyo without realizing you moved to look.
For those of you lucky enough to be able to stay at the Park Hyatt Hotel, rooms come fitted with windows that allow for your own personal view of Tokyo from sunrise to sunset - no lines or crowds of tourists here.
Already have other accommodation plans? Not to worry. You can still partake in the view and experience some film history by spending an evening at the “New York Bar” featured in the movie “Lost In Translation” or book a table at the “New York Grill” located next to it.
If you prefer to enjoy views of Tokyo with a cocktail in hand and soothing jazz music playing in the background, there really is no other choice than the Park Hyatt Hotel.
7. Caretta Shiodome
The Caretta Shiodome building, located on Tokyo Bay, is 213 meters tall (757 Feet) and is home to one of Japan's leading advertising companies. From its observation deck, you can catch sight of Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge and bay rivers that flow throughout the view.
What sets Caretta Shiodome apart from the rest is the glass elevator journey to the 46th floor of the building. Watch as your body leaves the ground and rises to meet the Tokyo skyline - the experience alone is worth the short trip.
If you are looking to dine with a view, Caretta Shiodome's 46th and 47th floor are home to a few high-end restaurants where you can enjoy your meal while looking out over Tokyo.
Don't worry if you're traveling on a budget. Even if you don't plan to sit and eat at one of the restaurants on offer, access to Caretta Shiodome's views and its glass elevator is still free - so don't miss out.
For those of you traveling as a couple, Caretta Shiodome should definitely be on your Tokyo bucket list of things to experience.
8. Bunkyo Civic Center
At only 150 meters tall (492 feet) you may question whether Bunkyo Civic Center is even worth visiting over some of the other options on this list - It is.
Located next to Korakuen Station, the building and its 270-degree observation deck, located on the 25th floor, is free to enter. Constantly overlooked by sightseers on their first trip to Tokyo, the center can often be visited without having to fear the chaos that comes from the more crowded tourist spots.
Due to Bunkyo Civic Center's central location, you can see a lot of Tokyo's most famous landmarks, including on a clear day, Mount Fuji rising above the skyscrapers of the Shinjuku district.
There is debate over whether Bunkyo Civic Center is superior to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building when it comes to which is the best-hidden gem among viewing decks.
However, with both being free to enter, I would recommend visiting both and deciding for yourself.
9. Carrot Tower
Affectionately named “Carrot Tower” due to the building’s bright orange color, the commercial building is located in the Setagaya area of Tokyo and stands at around approximately 86 meters (282 feet).
With the 22nd floor home to the game development company Game Freak, Inc, the creators of the popular Pokemon game series, you can find Carrot Tower’s observation deck on the 26th floor.
Arguably one of the more humbler buildings on this list, Carrot Tower offers you a free and calm view of the city without any unnecessary frills or fanfare - just you and the view.
Carrot Tower is for those looking to avoid the crowds and noise of some of the more popular observation decks on this list, and instead, enjoy a quiet Tokyo sunset with a book in hand to pass the time.
Before you say it, I already know.
At 39 meters (128 feet) does this one even count?
Located in the Asakusa that lacks a large number of highrise buildings, the view you get from the building's 8th floor is worth going to see and so earns its place on this list.
If you are visiting Tokyo for the first time, there is a high chance that you will be heading to Asakusa and I recommend taking time out to enjoy the view from the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center.
The building's 180-degree panoramic view offers a unique close up view of Tokyo Skytree and the popular Nakamise shopping street for free. There is also a cafe which will allow you to sit and take your time enjoying the view of the surrounding area.
For those in the area or photographers looking for a place to capture some amazing images, the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center should be on your list of places to visit.
Have you had the opportunity to visit any of the above observation decks in Tokyo?
Let me know in the comments below which one is your personal favorite and why.
If you feel like something is missing from the list or you don’t see your favorite place to get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo, please let me know below - I’m always on the lookout for gems still hidden within Tokyo’s endless treasure trove of things to see and do.