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Home > Travel Log > Tokyo

Tokyo Travel Log: Skyscrapers

There are quite a number of tall buildings in Tokyo. Seeing Tokyo from a skyscraper is one of the best ways to experience just how vast the metropolis is.

Many of them have observation decks that are open to the public, making it possible to take in some fabulous views and get some wonderful holiday snapshots!

View from the Mori Tower, Roppongi

Tokyo Observation Decks

Observation Deck Photography

If you want to get some truly stunning holiday photos that will amaze your friends and relatives, remember these tips:

  • Quality of light: The best quality of light tends to be in early morning or late afternoon, so try to time your visits at these times of day. Going before sunset is often a great time, as you can get photographs of late afternoon, sunsets and night time shots when the sun finally sets.
  • Night: Night shots generally look better just after sunset when the sky is still dark blue rather than black.
  • Weather. It's possible to take great photos in most types of weather. However, visibility will be much reduced in rainy or humid conditions.
  • Flash photography. Turn off the camera's flash if you're taking night shots (unless you are taking a picture of someone in the foreground).
  • Use a slow shutter speed if your camera allows it. Alternatively many automatic cameras have a night/fireworks photography mode which can also be used.
  • Take lots of photos. If you're taking pictures at low shutter speeds then some of the photographs may be out of focus. Taking plenty of photos mitigates this risk. Another solution is to hold the camera steady, or lean on something while taking the shot.
  • Try to find something of interest in the foreground (e.g. a freeway, or another building).
  • Reflections: Beware of reflections when taking pictures through glass as they can spoil a good photo. It's usually easier to take pictures if you're standing in the corner of a window. Also try to ensure there aren't too many bright lights behind you.

Fuji Television Building, Odaiba

Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba has a few interesting attractions to warrant an afternoon's exploration. The best way to visit Odaiba is via the Rainbow Bridge. Although it's possible to get a bus, taxi, or even walk across, the best way for a tourist is probably via the Yurikamome train line from Shimbashi (which itself is on the Yamanote line). This is a futuristic new train line that strongly resembles the Docklands Light Railway in London. The train itself performs a 360 degree loop as it gains sufficient height to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Near to Daiba station is the Headquarters of Fuji Television. The building is one of the most distinctive in Tokyo, having a large ball in the middle:

The Fuji Building, Odaiba, Tokyo

Although the building isn't a skyscraper as such, there is an observatory in the ball part of the building. The observatory has some great views of the Rainbow Bridge over the river Sumida. On the opposite river bank the views stretch toward Ginza, and the Tokyo Tower beyond.

The view from the Fuji Building, Odaiba, Tokyo

Good points: There is a good view of the river and the rainbow bridge. Sometimes they film TV shows in the observatory!

Bad points: Expensive admission charge. Not easy to take good photos through the windows.

I'd rate this observatory a 6 out of 10.

Landmark Tower, Yokohama

OK, so this skyscraper isn't in Tokyo but it's easily accessible on a daytrip from the capital.

Yokohama's Landmark Tower

Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan. It is situated to the South West of Tokyo, but given the amount of urban sprawl it's difficult to determine where Tokyo ends and Yokohama begins. There are a multitude of different ways to get to Yokohama. The Landmark Tower is closest to Minato Mirai station on the Minatomirai line. Direct services to Minato Mirai run on the Tokyu private railway line from Shibuya. Alternatively take a JR line train from Shinagawa (which is on the Yamanote line) and change onto the Minatomirai line at Yokohama's central station.

After visiting the Landmark Tower, it is worth continuing travelling on the Minatomirai line to Motomachi-Chukagai. This station is located near Yokohama's famous China Town, which is reputed to be the largest China Town in Japan.

Like London's Docklands, Minato Mirai is an area of Yokohama that was once occupied by part of the port, but is now being redeveloped to house modern hi-rise shops and office buildings. A notable building is the Landmark Tower, which at the time of my visiting was Japan's tallest building. The ride up to the 69th floor Sky Garden in Japan's fastest lift took just 40 ear-popping seconds. The lift had a rather nice speedometer in it.

The views over Yokohama and the bay are very nice:

View from the top of Yokohama's Landmark Tower 69th floor observatory

View from the top of Yokohama's Landmark Tower 69th floor observatory

The Nippon-Maru from the top of Yokohama's Landmark Tower 69th floor observatory

Good points: Fantastic views of Yokohama bay. Good for taking photographs. The observatory doesn't get too crowded.

Bad points: Expensive admission charge. The Yokohama curried hot dog from the café was a big disappointment.

I'd rate this observatory a 7 out of 10.

Carrot Tower, Setagaya

The Carrot Tower is a 26 storey tower in Sangen-jaya, Setagaya, in the western suburbs of Tokyo. It is within walking distance of Sangen-Jaya station on the Tokyu line. The Tokyu Den-en-toshi streetcar line station is next door to the Carrot Tower. The tower itself has an observatory on the top floor. There is also a restaurant and a radio station recording studio.

The Carrot Tower in Western Tokyo

View from the Carrot Tower observatory

If you are in the vicinity of the Carrot Tower, the fabulous Gotoku-ji temple is a few stops away on the Den-en-toshi line.

Good points: The observatory doesn't get too crowded. Free admission.

Bad points: I found it difficult to find the elevator to the observtory. The view isn't that interesting.

I'd rate this observatory a 5 out of 10.

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