Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers sky-high views
By ERIC GUZMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 24, 2015
No more than a 10-minute walk from the west side of Shinjuku Station is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, home to not only the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters, but also two of the city’s most popular observation decks.
Made up of three structures that each rest on separate spaces the size of a city block, the 243-meter-tall building was the tallest structure in the Japanese capital until 2007, when it lost the distinction to the Midtown Tower.
Designed by Japanese modernist architect Kenzo Tange, the government building was designed to resemble both a Gothic cathedral in its split construction and a computer microchip. The horizontal and vertical lines are meant to embody both traditional Japan and its modern sensibilities, simultaneously representing timber boarding and the lines of a semiconductor board.
The observation decks inside, both at a height of 202 meters on the building’s 45th floor, offer views of some of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks at zero cost. On a good day, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Dome, Mount Fuji and Tokyo Skytree are visible unobstructed from either deck.
Photography is allowed on both, but the Northern Observatory is open later than its counterpart, making it the more popular location for photographers and spectators seeking to enjoy a good view of Tokyo by night.
Alongside the amazing views of the city, the Northern Observation Deck is home to a cafe/bar that offers light meals and a very healthy selection of cocktails.
There is a tourist reception center on the building’s second floor with English-speaking staff ready to assist visitors. Maps, landmark descriptions and restaurant suggestions are all available, and are definitely recommended reading.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Address: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1, 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjukuku. It is the most imposing of the many skyscrapers that dot the area just west of Shinjuku station. Tocho-mae Station on the Oedo Subway Line is located in the basement of the building. Alternatively, the building can be reached in a 10-minute walk from the west exit of JR Shinjuku Station.
The Southern Observatory is closed the first and third Tuesday of every month. The Northern Observatory is closed the second and fourth Monday. Open on national holidays, but closed on the day after the holiday.
Southern Observatory: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., open until 10:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of every month.
Northern Observatory: 9:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Last admittance is 30 minutes before closing time.
Both observatories offer food, and the North Tower Observatory, best for night viewing, has a bar.
• The towers and the surrounding buildings contain the offices and the assembly hall of the city government of Tokyo. Thus, visitors go through a bag check for security before boarding the elevators to the observation towers.
• The observation decks have photographs above each window identifying the main sights, and multi-lingual audio guides are also available.