Want unobstructed views of Tokyo Tower and 360 degree views of the entire city? Then look no further than Roppongi Hills’ Mori Tower in central Tokyo.
When I first came to Tokyo, this was one of the first places I visited, and I’ve been back countless times as there is always something new to shoot - whether it’s a special light-up event for Tokyo Tower, Mt. Fuji, or the seasonal changes of the weather itself!
Where is Mori Tower?
You can take either the Toei Oedo subway or the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway lines to Roppongi Station. When you arrive, look for the yellow sign on the platform and follow the arrows to Roppongi Hills.
Mori Tower in Google Maps
If you take the Oedo Line, you'll have to take a lot escalators to the exit gate.
(Oedo Line is one of Tokyo's newest subway lines, so it had to be built under the existing subway lines.)
When using the escalator in Tokyo, stand on the left-hand side, leaving a clear lane for people who want to pass or walk up. When in Osaka, the opposite applies - stand on the right-hand side.
Make sure to check out the giant spider by French artist Louise Bourgeois in front of Mori Tower. Stand directly beneath and notice the spider is carrying eggs (well, marble eggs)!
This is the outside entrance to the building. There is an elevator, but it's very slow and small. Take the winding stairs on the right - it's only about 2 floors up.
After taking the elevator or stairs, you'll arrive here. Once you enter the building, you'll have to buy a ticket. Depending on the time of day, it can be very crowded, so be prepared for a little wait - especially just before sunset. I always try to arrive about an hour before sunset, so I can get my ticket and find a good spot to set up my gear.
Current admission prices at the time of this writing are:
Adult: 1,800 yen
University/high school student: 1,200 yen
Child: (age 4 up to junior high school student) 600 yen
Senior: (ages 65 & over) 1,500 yen
* Please check before your visit
Tokyo City View
Leave the elevator on the 52nd floor and and present your ticket to the staff. You'll be greeted with fantastic views of the city.
Main viewing point for Tokyo Tower.
Large windows and plenty of space until...
When you've decided on your position and are all set up, it’s nice to relax and watch the city come to life. It’s amazing how many people come to view the sunset and the light-up of Tokyo Tower. Be sure to arrive early, and if you have a tripod - which really is a must - set it up early. Later, it will very difficult, if not impossible...
Mori Tower is very friendly to photographers, and allows the use of tripods - it’s pretty rare for Tokyo, so make the most of it.
When I first visited Mori Tower, I took my regular heavy tripod (which was fine) and I got some nice, long exposures. But since this is inside, a light mini-tripod is way better. It saves room in your bag, and your back will appreciate the lighter load. Think about that if you're walking around Tokyo all day.
The other point to remember is that you are shooting through a window, and that can cause some problems. Mainly, the problem of unwanted reflections. I’ve used several products to beat this, but probably the easiest thing to use is a dark, lightweight towel over the end of your lens.
It can be a little tricky to set up at first, but really do it in advance and be sure to check the edges of your frame in your test shots. You don’t want the edge of your towel ruining your shot! The last thing you want to be doing is adjusting it when it gets darker - or even worse, missing sunset and the blue hour!
I usually focus on shooting 10 minutes after sunset until the end of the blue hour. For that short period of time, I’m concentrating on different exposure times, adjusting white balance, and checking for sharpness and noise.
I often walk away with more than 100 images on my SD card. After that, it’s just a matter of choosing my best shots, then beginning the editing process.
Set up for the above photo was:
Mori Tower Sky Deck
There is an outdoor observation deck on the roof, which you have to pay an extra 500 yen to visit.
Before you take the elevator to the roof, you'll have to put your bags in lockers.
The lockers cost 100 yen, but you get it back when you return to pick up your bags. You can only take cameras up to the observation deck.
When the elevator doors open, you will suddenly find yourself standing outside. But you're not at the top yet. Follow the maze-like path up to the deck.
Standing on the rooftop with the wind blowing on your face, next to giant helipad, is quite amazing. And the views are the same.
Of course, no tripods are allowed up here, so for those long exposures Tokyo City View is the best place. Still, it's a great place for some stunning selfies!
At a Glance:
Location: Mori Tower Building, Roppongi Hills
Station: Toei Oedo or the Tokyo Metro Hibiya subway lines to Roppongi Station
Ease of Access: Easy
Admission (at time of writing): Adult 1,800 yen; University/ high school student1,200 yen; Child (age 4 up to junior high school student) 600 yen; Senior (ages 65 & over) 1,500 yen
Hours (at time of writing): 10:00 - 23:00 (Last admission: 22:30); Fridays, Saturdays, Days before holidays 10:00 - 25:00 (Last admission: 24:00)
Skydeck when open: 11:00 - 20:00 (Last admission: 19:30)
Views: 360 degrees of Tokyo
Tip: Very crowded at sunset (definitely come early!)
Tokyo Tower from Mori Building's Tokyo City View is more than impressive, especially after sunset. Combine that with 360-degree views and an open-air deck 250 meters above sea level, and you'll soon see why this is best place to photograph Tokyo Tower - you can't help but get some great photos!
If you are interested in seeing other twilight and blue hour photos of Tokyo, please feel free to visit my Flickr feed.