3 Free Ways to Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Shinjuku and Beyond

Even as a long-term Tokyo resident, gazing across the endless metropolis from a perch high above the ground never gets old. When it comes to partaking in this pastime for free, there’s no better place than Nishi-shinjuku.
Most tourists and residents are familiar with the more popular Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and Roppongi Hills, all of which come with high admission fees and long lines. However, if you want to avoid most of the crowds and high prices, Nishi-shinjuku can’t be beat. Read on to find out where to go and what you can see.

2019-06-06   Visit: Modern Japan, Shinjuku, Tokyo,

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

When it comes to observatories, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (“Tocho” for short) is simply the best deal in town. Each of the building’s towers has a free observatory complete with shopping stalls and cafes to compliment stunning panoramic views of Tokyo.
Visit both observatories, and you’ll get an unparalleled sense of perspective on the city. From Odaiba to Tokyo Skytree, you can see it all. In fact, on a clear day you can even view sights such as the monolithic Landmark Tower in Yokohama and Mt. Fuji, jutting out from among the mountains on the western horizon.

The southern tower of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a great place to see just how tall Tokyo Skytree is. Search the scenery and you can also spot Tokyo Dome.

If you are an aspiring photographer, try to arrive just before sunset to catch the breathtaking ways in which the evening sun reflects off of the endless sea of buildings that make up the Tokyo-Yokohama Metropolitan area.

The Shinjuku Nomura Building

Several of the skyscrapers in Nishi-shinjuku have restaurants on their upper floors, and the Nomura Building is no exception. Many of these buildings used to have small observatories as well, but as of this writing, the Sumitomo Building has closed its observatory, and the Center Building has closed its Sky Restaurants and the observatory that they surrounded.

The Shinjuku Nomura Building features a small westward-facing observatory on the 50th floor. Although the view is somewhat limited, at 200 meters, it’s one of the highest places you can get in Nishi-shinjuku without sprouting wings and taking to the skies. Here you can enjoy amazing views of Nishi-shinjuku, Nakano, and distant mountain ranges (including Mt. Fuji). Or, you can simply kick back and watch the ebb and flow of people, cars, and trains as they seamlessly flow through the city below.

If you’d like to experience views in different directions, you’ll need to dine at one of the restaurants on the 49th or 50th floors. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as the lunch deals at these high-quality restaurants are unbeatable. Arrive as early as possible (typically 11:30 a.m.) and ask for a window seat for an unforgettable (and affordable) dining experience.

The Shinjuku NS Building

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the Shinjuku NS Building is its interior.

What this building lacks in height, it makes up for in uniqueness. Famous for its hollowed-out interior and for housing one of the world’s largest pendulum clocks, the NS Building is one of Tokyo’s architectural wonders. Head to the 29th floor and look for small alcoves on the north and south sides of the building for some great photo ops. The north side offers a picture-perfect view of the historic Shinjuku Sumitomo Building and its surroundings, while the south side offers glimpses of Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi Park, Shibuya, and more.

The Shinjuku Sumitomo Building (left), Shinjuku I-Land Tower (center), and the Shinjuku Mitsui Building (right) as seen from the Shinjuku NS Building.

Make a day of it

The beauty of Nishi-shinjuku and its observatories is that they are all within easy walking distance of each other. At a brisk pace, you could cover everything in this article in under three hours. I’d recommend taking your time, though. Do some souvenir shopping in Tocho, have a delicious lunch in the Nomura Building, and swing by the NS Building for a coffee break. The Tokyo cityscape is a feast for the eyes—an experience not to be rushed, but savored.

Lunch with a view: my first round of the all-you-can eat salad bar at Hibiki on the 49th floor of the Nomura Building. Not pictured: the chicken nanban main course that follows.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
3 Free Ways to Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Shinjuku and Beyond

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


Address 2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 163-8001
Hours 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.*
Times and operating hours vary—see website for details.
Price free
Close -
Access Exit Tochomae Station on the Toei Oedo Line or five-minute walk from Nishi-shinjuku Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line.
Phone +81-(0)3-3342-4510
Language Japanese
Website http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/english/offices/observat.html