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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, The Best Place To Photograph The Bright Lights Of Shinjuku

If you find yourself in Shinjuku, then visiting the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a must, especially if you are a photographer. Designed by Kenzo Tange, it always strikes me as a building that wouldn’t be out of place in Batman’s Gotham City.

There are great options for taking photos both inside and out. With the building's gothic-like architecture and straight lines, there are many angles and spots to shoot from! There are observation decks of course, in fact one in each tower. And at a height of 202 meters, incredible 360 degree views of the city can be enjoyed.It really is one of the best places to photograph the brig ht lights of Shinjuku. And the best part - there is no admission fee!


UPDATE: Due to Covid 19, the observation deck is temporarily being used as a vaccination center


Set up for the above photo was:

  • Lens: 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8

  • ƒ/11.0

  • Focal Length:14.0 mm

  • Shutter: 10

  • ISO 64

  • Camera: Nikon D810


What Can I See From Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building?

On the 45th floor, you can enjoy views of Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi Park, various other skyscrapers - and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji. There are signs at various windows to help point out buildings and mountains of interest.

Where is The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building?

It’s about a 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station’s west exit.

As you’re walking, don’t forget to look up and check out the impressive “mini Manhattan” skyscrapers.

If you prefer an easier route, take the Toei Oedo Line to Tochomae Station. From here, you can enter the building without leaving the station.

When you get off the train, look for this signboard, and find "TMG" (Tokyo Metropolitan Government).

Look for A4 exit and follow the signs and go up the escalators...

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government which governs the city of Tokyo. As you can imagine, there is a lot of security.

When you get to the elevators that take you up to the observatory, you’ll have to go through a quick bag inspection.


If you read on The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's official website that its closed, it means the offices are closed after business hours and on weekends. The observation deck is open everyday, including weekends.

No Tripods At The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building!

If you have a tripod, you’ll be told that you can’t use it in the building, so be ready to stabilize your camera in a different way for long exposure shots.

Notice that there is a ledge on all the windows, which comes in handy for resting cameras on bags. I took a few quick photos to give you an idea of the view from different points of the observation deck.

Does It Get Crowded?

Yes. As with most buildings with observation decks, usually around sunset time is the busiest time. The lines for the elevators can be quite long. I think the longest I’ve waited is around 30 minutes. It really depends on the day and what’s going on in the building. It’s a good idea to be prepared for some kind of wait, so arrive in plenty of time if you want to secure a nice spot for shooting the sunset.

Which Tower Has The Best Views?

The short answer is both. You can’t really make a mistake with either. Here are a few photos from both towers to help confuse you more!

North Tower Views

View looking towards South Tower with Park Hyatt Hotel in the distance, and below, a view looking towards the Nakano area.

South Tower Views

View looking towards Telecom Tower.

If you have a specific tower you want to visit, check to make sure your chosen tower is open. See the operating hours below. And remember, you must enter at least 30 minutes before closing. The staff won’t let you in if you arrive with less than 30 minutes before closing time.

Is It Open On Sundays?

Yes, it’s open on weekends. The government offices are closed, but the observation decks are open. They are even open on New Year's Day, January 1st!

Method For Stabilizing Camera

If you want to quickly and easily stabilize your camera in places such as this, I recommend using a small bean bag. Just make sure to set it up quickly (avoid the roving staff!) and hide the base with a jacket or something similar. Of course, resting your camera on your bag works fine too.

I’ve visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building many times, and here are a couple examples of photos I’ve managed to capture. There are still many new positions and angles I want to shoot.

Cocoon Tower and Skytree

At A Glance:

Location: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, West Shinjuku

Station: Tochomae Station (Oedo Line)

Ease of Access: Easy

Admission: Free

Hours: Everyday 9:00 am to 8:30 pm

Views: 360 degrees

Tripods: Not allowed

Tip: Lines can be long at elevators, so get there early if you want to see the sunset.


Two free observation decks, 360-degree views (including Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and Shinjuku skyscrapers) and a wide ledge to position your camera for long exposures. You can't go wrong here!



dee 1.webp

In March 2019 I visited Tokyo and Kyoto to time the blossoms of the cherry trees. While researching photography opportunities for these 2 cities, I found Duane's website, which had fantastic photos of Tokyo at night. I assumed that these photos were taken by him as he was visiting Tokyo, but when I contacted him, I found out he actually lives in Tokyo. 

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