When you think of Tokyo, words like sushi, samurai, robots, and bullet trains probably come to mind. But this mega city has so much more to offer, especially if you’re into photography!

From a photographer’s perspective, there is something for every photographic style, whether it be capturing the trendy fashions of Harajuku, or photographing scenes of cherry blossoms.

 

For me, it’s the blue hour, the time just after sunset and before it truly gets dark. It’s magical to watch the city come to life during this time. Skyscrapers light up, car light trails are everywhere, and buildings reflect in various waterways.

 

So, after visiting all the obvious places, such as Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing, Shinjuku’s Golden Gai, Tokyo Skytree, and various temples and shrines, how about viewing the city from the lesser known places?

 

This blog is about introducing these photo spots, giving you directions to the location and suggestions for your camera setup.

Here is a glimpse of what’s inside…

 

 

The World Trade Center Building

 

Fantastic views of the entire city from the 40th-floor observation await you here. Views of Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Bay, Shiodome skyscrapers and shinkasen (bullet train) lines can all be seen from this 360-degree deck and, as an added bonus, tripods are welcome.

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Odaiba

 

There are many photographic opportunities in Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. To capture Tokyo Bay, Rainbow Bridge and the skyline of Tokyo in one shot, a high shooting point is essential. One of the best places for such a view is from the Fuji TV observation deck.

 

Designed by Kenzo Tange, the building itself is very photographic and is easily recognizable with it’s huge silver sphere. The observation deck is actually inside this sphere!

For more detailed information, read this post.

 

The second spot I want to introduce is Rainbow Bridge, one of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks. And it’s just a short walk from the Fuji TV building. 

 

Spanning Tokyo Bay, Rainbow Bridge is a 2-deck bridge carrying the Shuto expressway and the Yurikamome train line. It really comes to life in the evening, and on occasions there are special light-up events.

 

The standard photo of Rainbow Bridge is usually taken from beach in front of the Decks shopping complex. But there is a free place where you can get very close, almost under the bridge, which allows for a shot with Tokyo Tower positioned beneath the bridge. Two iconic landmarks in one shot! 

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Sumida River Light Trails

 

Not really the first place you would think of for night photography, but with it’s many bridges, a futuristic backdrop of skyscrapers, and yakatabune (beautifully colorful boats), it is the perfect place for capturing long exposure light trails.

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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

 

Another amazing building designed by Kenzo Tange, this gothic-looking skyscraper looks as though it belongs in Gotham City.

There are plenty of places both inside and out to take some incredible photos of this landmark.

 

With its 2 towers and 2 free observation decks, you can have a birds-eye view of Tokyo. From here you’ll be able see Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Shinjuku’s skyscraper district, and on clear days, even Mt. Fuji. 

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Mt. Fuji And Shinjuku

 

You don’t have to go all the way to Mt. Fuji to see Mt. Fuji. One of the best, and perhaps most iconic views can be enjoyed for free at Bunkyoku Civic Center, a ward office in Tokyo.

 

The beauty of this place is that it allows you to include Shinjuku’s skyline in the foreground. And when the stars line up for Diamond Fuji (when the sun sets directly behind Mt. Fuji, creating the appearance of a diamond), it can truly turn your shot into a masterpiece.

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Views Of Tokyo Station

 

Yet another iconic landmark in Tokyo dating back to 1914. Not just a station, but a symbol of Japan. When the brick facade is lit up in the evening, the warm colors really enhance the building’s features. Discover the 3 free locations where you can capture this scene, all within walking distance of each other.

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Tokyo Tower

 

Learn one of the best locations to shoot Tokyo Tower where tripods are allowed, all from a spacious 52nd-floor observation deck.

This centrally located skyscraper also offers an open rooftop sky deck. At 270 meters above sea level, feel the wind while enjoying the view. 

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Shinjuku Secret Spot

 

After shooting Shinjuku’s Golden Gai, why not visit a free space to take in Shinjuku’s dynamic skyline? From this spot, you have an impressive view from Shinjuku Station’s west exit. From here, you’ll be able to capture Mode Gakuen and the whole skyscraper district.

 

The beautiful curving roads make for dramatic light trails from this high-vantage point, and being Shinjuku, you are guaranteed a lot of traffic!

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Yokohama

 

Not technically Tokyo, but it’s so near and easy to get to. Do yourself a favor and go! There are so many great places to take photos, but I want to introduce you to 3 of the best free spots. With directions from the nearest train station, learn where to take photos of Minato Mirai’s Cosmo World amusement park from the roof of a department store (tripods are OK to use).

 

Then, walk 5 minutes to capture Landmark Tower and the Minato Mirai skyline reflecting in a canal. From here, walk a further 15-20 minutes to Japan’s busiest International Passenger terminal called Osanbashi. It’s a whale-shaped building with an incredible green area on the roof. From this spot, you can see all of Yokohama’s skyline, and on a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji in the background.

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Lesser Known Tokyo Skyline Spot

 

This spot is literally just for photographers. This tower has 2 floors, one for the general public, and one for photographers where you are free to use tripods. It’s hard to believe it’s free! Combine that with 360-degree views, and you can’t help but walk away with some amazing shots.

 

This is a great place to capture Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and Tokyo Skytree all in the same shot. It’s not so centrally located, but still easy to get to. I’ll tell you how to get here, how to get to the correct floor, and offer some advice on setting up your shot.

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I hope you find the information helpful, and if you have questions or want some advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

April 17, 2018

Shinjuku. So many photo opportunities. But where can you capture a photo of West Shinjuku's iconic skyscrapers with looping light trails from a high vantage point... for free?

March 20, 2018

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.

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Planning a trip to Tokyo and want some more information? 

Feel free to contact me!

Hi I'm Duane, a foreigner living in Tokyo, Japan.

Welcome to my blog.

In 2013, I moved to Tokyo and became obsessed with taking blue hour photos of this incredible city. For the last few years I've been discovering new places, new angles, and working on my technique. There's nothing more satisfying than spending an evening behind the camera, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, focusing on taking that one perfect shot as the city comes to life.

 

When I arrived, it was frustrating not knowing how to get to these places. After years of living here, through trial and error, I now know the best locations. I'll share some of the places and tips in this blog. I hope you find it helpful.

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