Roppongi Hills, one of the Tokyo’s biggest skyscrapers houses two amazing observatories – the indoor Tokyo City View on the fifty-second floor at 250 meters above sea level, and the outdoor Sky Deck on the roof at 270 meters above sea level. If you are looking for some amazing views of Tokyo, this is one of the very best places to go.
For a long time, I’d been a big fan of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building as it is free and located in busy Shinjuku. I am still a fan of the place, but Roppongi Hills takes things to another level. First, it is a major skyscraper that is used for both commercial and retail purposes. TMGB, as the name suggests, is used for the metropolitan government so there is a nothing of interest, for visitors there, other than its observation decks. And while TMGB might be taller, its observation decks are located at a slightly lower height. And as the Roppongi Hills is closer to the central areas of Tokyo, more of the city’s important areas will be closer to you like Tokyo Tower, Odaiba and Tokyo Bay. Lastly, it has a true 360°view, whereas the TMGB to get the full 360 you need to move between the towers.
The actual experience? I think it is excellent. After purchasing your ticket on the lower floors, you take the elevator up to the Tokyo City View indoor viewing deck. It is spacious and has huge windows from which to enjoy the views. If you get up very close to them you can look almost straight down, so be careful if you suffer from a fear of heights! For anyone needing a place to sit and just enjoy the view there are chairs and sofas at several places. On the same floor, you’ll also find two restaurants and a gift shop. Unfortunately, there aren’t even any drink machines on the actual viewing floor. The best part though still lies above, another very short elevator ride and up some stairs, on the Sky Deck!
Sky Deck is amazing. To able to walk outside two-hundred and fifty meters above sea level during the day, or at night is incredible. The view can be breathtaking. You can so much and so very, very far. From the viewing area, you can get a full 360°view of Tokyo. You can see everything in city and as far away, provided the weather is good, Yokohama, Chiba and of course Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. Simply speaking, the view is brilliant and shouldn’t be missed.
One thing you need to know about the Sky Deck before going is that as it can get very windy and very cold outside especially during winter, so make sure you wear something warm during the colder months. Also, some things like bags, hats, scarves aren’t allowed on the outside deck, so put them in the lockers provided (they cost 100 yen, but it is refundable). The other thing to remember is that if you go up to the outside deck you need to stay on the wooden walk boards as the security guards will tell you very strongly to keep out of the central area, which serves as a helipad.
Is there anything I don’t like about Tokyo City View/Sky Deck? Yes, there is one thing. As soon as you get out of the elevator and make your way into the lounge there is a person at the door asking if you would like your picture taken. For me personally, I think the asking price is a little steep, but that is just me and I understand everyone thinks about these things differently. The only other thing I dislike is that some of the windows on Tokyo City View could do with more cleaning as it makes photography hard occasionally.
For some, the price of admission might be a little steep, but if you want a really great view of the city, Tokyo City View/Sky Deck at Roppongi Hills is a must. And after your visit you can also enter the Mori Art Museum which is covered by your ticket and that is good value (and it will get its own article at some point in time!). You can see the website here.
How to get to Roppongi Hills
It is very easy as there are four subway station nearby. The Hibiya line is literally under the building so that is easy as long as you leave via exit 1c. The Ooedo line has two stations nearby, Roppongi station (leave via exit 3) and Azabu-Juban (exit 7). You can also use the Chiyoda line which stops at Nogizaka station (leave via exit 5). Here is a map of the local area:
Tokyo City View is ￥1800 (which also includes admittance to Mori Art Musuem) and Sky Deck is another ￥500.
Sometimes during the year, the observatory will have special campaigns in conjunction with the Mori Art Museum, so it’s usually a good idea to check the website for details to see if there is anything special on offer when you visit.
From Sunday to Thursday and public holidays, Tokyo City View is open from 10 AM to 11 PM (with last entry at 10:30 PM). On Fridays, Saturdays and days before public holidays it is open from 10 AM to 1 AM (with last entry at midnight).
Sky Deck is open from 11 AM to 8 PM (with last entry at 7:30 PM). However, as the deck is outside there maybe some circumstances (e.g. bad weather) which might prevent it from operating.
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy:
Funabori Hall Tower – a small, free observatory that is worth a look
Kiba Park – a big park in Tokyo and a nice place to spend some time
Musashi Imperial Graveyard – burial place of two Japanese Emperors
Railway Museum – learn a little about Japan’s rail history
Tokyo Daibutsu – you don’t need to travel to Kamakura to see a Big Buddha