Tourist Spots

23 WardsShibuyaTourist SpotsViewing Spots

Yebisu Garden Place Tower Sky Lounge (Top of Yebisu)

Yebisu Garden Place Sky LoungeYebisu Garden Place Sky Lounge

恵比寿ガーデンプレイスタワースカイラウンジ
Yebisu gādenpureisutawā sukairaunji

Yebisu Garden Place (also called Ebisu Garden Place) is a virtual city of delights located in the Ebisu district of Shibuya. This multi-block complex is ripe with entertainments, fancy retail shops, and gastronomical diversions. And within the shining tower resides a romantic’s visual delight: Yebisu Garden Place Tower Sky Lounge, also known as Top of Yebisu

To find Top of Yebisu, you’ll have to head into Yebisu Garden Place Tower – don’t worry, there are plenty of signs and the elevators are clearly marked. Looking out the halls of the 38th and 39th floors, you’ll get unobstructed views of the Tokyo skyline.  Although it’s not a proper observatory, it does have east-facing windows with views of Minato ward, Roppongi Hills and the iconic Tokyo Tower. Shinjuku and Shibuya can be seen from the northside, while to the west is Mt. Fuji but only on a very clear day.

To make the most of your visit, I suggest visiting during the winter illuminations (November through January), when the grounds are dressed in twinkling splendor while you shop at the annual Christmas Bazaar. If you can’t make it during the holiday season, try attending the Yebisu Marche (Ebisu Marche), a farmer’s market held every Sunday throughout the rest of the year.

Regardless of the season, go for a tour of the Museum of Yebisu Beer or the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum before heading up Ebisu Garden Place Tower for a fantastic meal. For extra fun, stop by Cat Cafe Nyafe Melange for cats and coffee in a trendy setting, right next to Ebisu Station.

BTW: The 38th Floor mostly contains some of the best Japanese restaurants in Tokyo, while the 39th floor has an international selection with cuisines from China, Thailand, and Italy. It’s all delightful really and you can’t go wrong with whatever choice you make.



Yebisu Garden Place Tower
Yebisu Garden Place Tower
Yebisu Garden Tower Sky Lounge View toward the east
Yebisu Garden Tower Sky Lounge View toward the east
Yebisu Garden Square Decorated for the Holidays
Yebisu Garden Square Decorated for the holidays
Yebisu Garden Place in Mid Spring
Yebisu Garden Place in Mid Spring
Nyafe melange
Take a Cat Break at Nyafe melange Cafe
23 WardsSetagayaTourist SpotsViewing Spots

Sky Carrot Observation Lobby

View from Carrot TowerView from Carrot Tower

スカイキャロット展望ロビー
Sukai Kyarotto tenbō robī

In Setagaya City, nine minutes from Shibuya Station lives a lesser-known place to view the Tokyo skyline. It’s not a sparkling highrise made of steel and glass like the ones found in Shibuya or Shinjuku. In fact, it looks very orange with its brick facade. This is why the building is called Carrot Tower. According to the story, a contest among local children gave the commercial building its name. The winning child probably named it Carrot Tower due is garish color.

The Observation Lobby is located on the 26th floor and 126 meters high, with east-side views of Tokyo. This means you see much of Shibuya, Tokyo Skytree, and Tokyo Tower. To the west, there are views of Kanagawa and of course Mt. Fuji on a super clear day.

Carrot Tower is fantastic for tripod users. I’ve seen quite a few photographers use the housed ventilation near the windows as a place to set up their cameras. Due to the glass windows, I highly suggest using an adjustable lens hood. Modern technology is grand and they now sell silicone lens hoods that are perfect for reflection reduction when photographing through windows.

On weekday evenings you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself and you can take the time to set up your city night shot of Shibuya with both Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower in the same shot. If you want additional views, visit the Sky Carrot Bar and pay for a set lunch and slightly overpriced beer.

Finding the elevators to the Sky Carrot Tower Observation Lobby is a bit awkward. After you exit Sangenjaya station via the west gates just follow the signs toward Carrot Tower (キャロットタワー). As soon as you enter the building, go up the escalators to the 2nd Floor. From there you’ll find a pair of elevators which will lead you up to the 26th Floor. Just look for blue signs that say “26F展望ロビー レストラン” (26F Observation Lobby Restaurant).

Other than the observation lobby, there really isn’t much to Carrot Tower. Like many Tokyo buildings, it has shopping and food on the lower floors and business offices up in the tower. I suggest visiting interesting locations if you find yourself in Setagaya. One such place is Setagaya park, a great place if you have young kids in tow. On weekends and Wednesdays, they have Mini Steam Locomotive rides. There are also pedal go-carts where kids can drive around in a mini-traffic park with working traffic signals.

If you want additional views of Tokyo, hop back on the train toward Shibuya and stop at Ikejiri-ōhashi Station and follow signs for Meguro Sky Garden. Meguro Sky Garden is rather special: it is a garden constructed on a sloping roof solely to cover the intersection of two major expressways. For more adult fun, head back to Shibuya to see the hustle and bustle of Scramble Crossing and take selfies in front of Hachiko, the famous dog statue.


Carrot Tower
Sunset view from Carrot Tower
Sunset view from Carrot Tower
Model of Meguro Sky Garden
Model of Meguro Sky Garden
Hachiko at Shibuya
Hachiko at Shibuya
Miniature Train at Setagaya park
Miniature Train at Setagaya park
23 WardsShinjukuTourist SpotsViewing Spots

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Rooms

TachoTokyo Metropolitan Government Building

東京都庁舎観察室展望室
Tōkyō-to Chōsha kansatsu shitsu

If you are a Godzilla fan, you’ll recognize this building. I certainly did! This building is from when the king lizard himself crashes right through the mid-section in the 1991 film “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (also known by locals as Tocho “都庁”) is home to two observation decks: South Tower and North Tower – Each having their own elevator entrance but both on the 45th floor. As of 2019, the North Tower Observation room is going under renovations but will reopen sometime mid-January 2020. Meanwhile, the South Tower Observation room is open and occasionally hosts live musical performances during your viewing pleasure.

At a height of 202 meters and favorable weather conditions, you can spy Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Dome, Mount Fuji, Tokyo Bay, and Tokyo Skytree. You can even get a glimpse of Yokohama to the west and Chiba to the east. Best time to view is early morning in Autumn or Winter when the air is less hazy. Sorry photographers leave your tripods at the hotel.

To enter the Observation deck, you’ll need to go down to the Observation elevators on the first floor, where security will check your bags before entry. Both towers have a café where you get reasonably priced refreshments and snacks. And of course, there are souvenirs available for purchase to commemorate your visit.

Since Tocho is a government building, the observation deck will be closed on certain holidays. On December 29th and January 3rd, both towers are closed but open on Jan 1st to welcome in the New Year. Because of the holiday period, there is less traffic and factory pollution in the Tokyo area, and you’ll be able to see fantastic views of Mount Fuji. Maybe snap some good pics with a sizable zoom lens.

Last time I checked the South Observation deck closes every first and third Tuesday of the month. Be sure to check the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s twitter account for updates and any closures when you’re in town.

Shinjuku is rife with delights, so if you’ll be making your way down to the Tocho, you might as well make a day trip out of it. I suggest visiting Shinjuku Central Park right next door, or Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden on the other side of Shinjuku Station. For some light family-friendly amusement, visit the TOTO Tokyo Center Show Room to marvel at Japanese toilet and washlet technology. For late-night fun, have your pick from hundreds of themed izakayas or Japanese bars in Golden Gai, but do make a quick stop at the ever instagramable Hanazono Shrine beforehand.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building gets high marks for being a really pretty building where you can really get some nice street photography shots with a decent 55mm lens or just a smartphone camera. The Observation rooms are nice, but not a target destination in themselves since there isn’t much else to do there except take in the views. It’s best as a side destination when visiting Shinjuku for the day.



Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
View of Yoyogi Park from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
View of Yoyogi Park from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Bright likes of Shinjuku Nights`
Bright likes of Shinjuku Nights
Golden Gai
Hanazono Jinja
23 WardsMinatoTourist SpotsViewing Spots

Caretta Shiodome Sky View

Carretta Shiodome Illuminations 2019Carretta Shiodome Illuminations 2019

カレッタ汐留 SKY VIEW
Caretta Shiodome Sky View

While not a proper observation deck, Caretta Shiodome Sky View does offer some fine views of the Odaiba, Rainbow bridge, the old Tsukiji fish market, the Harumi passenger ship terminal, Hama-Rikyu Gardens, the Imperial Palace, and Shinjuku. More of a lounge, Caretta is located on 46th and 47th floors and serves as a waiting area for the many restaurants on the same floor. I do have to warn you, there are a few windows and the field of view limited when compared to a real observation deck. The best views are located at the stairwells between the two floors. Caretta does, however, have the best elevator ride with pretty Tokyo views as you’re going up. The views overall are pretty good, but the best time to go is at night when Tokyo is blazing with city lights.

If you want to view Tokyo city proper along with the Imperial Palace and Shinjuku clearly visible, you’ll have to order a beer or meal at one of the restaurants there. Don’t worry it’s all good and tasty! If you go between November to January, you’ll get to see the Caretta light and sound illumination show in the courtyard below – a real romantic treat especially when you combo it with a fancy meal.

Also, in the area is the Hamarikyu Gardens – a beautiful public park built on the site of a 17th-century villa belonging to the Shōgun Tokugawa family. For a mere 300 yen ($2.80 USD) you enjoy perfect peonies, a sweet plum tree grove, and fields filled with flowers for every season. I also suggest visiting Tsukiji Outer Market for some lunchtime grazing. If you’re up for some iconic Tokyo scenery stop by Zōjōji Temple which is an easy 25 minutes walk from Caretta.

Honestly, Caretta Shiodome Sky View is best at night and during the winter illumination season. I just enjoyed bundling up and strolling through the pretty lights, thankful that I remembered to bring my hand warmers. Then heading up to the Sky View lounge to warm up with a warm drink and a light meal. *sigh*



View from Caretta Shiodome at Night
View from Caretta Shiodome at Night
Anne at Carretta Shiodome Illuminations
Obligatory Selfie at Carretta Shiodome Illuminations
Hamarikyu Gardens
View of Hamarikyu Gardens from the moat
Jizō-sama of Zōjōji Temple
Jizō-sama of Zōjōji Temple
23 WardsEdogawaTourist SpotsViewing Spots

Tower Hall Funabori Observation Deck

Night View of Tokyo from  Tower Hall FunaboriNight View of Tokyo

タワーホール船堀 展望室
Tawāhōru Funabori tenbō-shitsu

In the Edogawa ward, beyond the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo is a little-known observation deck. I assume it’s hardly known because many people refuse to take the trip out to the far side of Edogawa. Those who do head out in that direction are most likely going to Tokyo Disney, passing up this viewing spot for more frenzied delights.

Standing at only 115 meters, Tower Hall Funabori is considered small. However, it does boast a full 360 view and one best sunset views in the Tokyo area thanks to it being located east of central Tokyo. On a fantastic day, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Metro Building, and the multitude of skyscrapers just beyond the river are bathed in the pure golden light of sunset. And yes, on a clear day you can see a very distant Mt. Fuji. At night around 20:00 and toward the south, skies above Tokyo Disney light up with fireworks.

If you do decide to visit, I suggest that you also explore the area to fill out your day. Nearby is Ojima Komatsugawa Park located one stop before Funabori Station at Higashi-Ojima station. During spring Ojima Komatsugawa Park comes alive with a flurry of blossoms thanks to its prized collection of cherry trees. Within a 20 minute walk is the Edogawa Natural Zoo, a small and free zoo filled with adorable animals. Back toward central Tokyo, the Edo-Tokyo Museum and Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena are also worth visiting and only takes a 20-minute train ride to reach.

Tower Hall Funabori is possibly the smallest observatory tower in Tokyo that I know of. For good photographs, a smartphone isn’t going to cut it, zoom lenses are the way to go. Since tripods are not allowed, long exposers can get tricky but last time I checked there are a few flat places to set your camera on. A photography support bean bag might help. Regardless of its remote location and photo finagles, I like Tower Hall Funabori because of cozy quiet atmosphere.



Tower Hall Funabori Sunset
Tower Hall Funabori Sunset
Cherry Blossoms are always lovely
Sumo at Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Sumo at Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Tower Hall Funabori
Tower Hall Funabori
23 WardsBunkyoTourist Spots

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine North ToriNezu Shrine North Tori

Nezu Shrine (根津神社 – Nezu-jinja) hides well like a precious jewel inside a small pocket of Tokyo’s thick cloak of concrete. Nestled away within the eastern portions of Bunkyo Ward, stands a beautiful set of red painted buildings walled in by verdant greenery.

Since Nezu Shrine is a mere 15-minute walk from where Sig and I were staying, we made it one of our first stops after setting foot in Tokyo.

Tunnel of Torii

From the busy street, the area looks like a simple park, until we wandered deeper into one of the three entrance paths. According to Shinto belief, a tori entrance indicates a transition between the mundane to the sacred.

Although the looming Torii main gate did impress me, I found the path of a hundred or so vermilion torii beautiful — something about repeating patterns feels comforting. This torii tunnel leads me through the hillside just west of the main hall.

Stooping slightly as not to hit my head, the steps took me to a viewing platform with a small shrine and pavilion. From here I could see the main shrine and a koi-filled pond below. Nearby, a cozy Otome Inari Shrine sits guarded by two fox statues.

Otome means “maiden,” and the Inari is the god or spirit of foxes, fertility, rice, tea, sake, and anything agriculture related. I was told that newly wedded ladies often pray here for a good marriage. I’m hardly a maiden, but I did drop a customary five yen coin into the box and make a quick wish.

Tunnel of Torii
Tunnel of Torii

Tower Gate

We make our way down the hill through a shorter path of torii, and then through a rōmon (楼門). Beneath this two-story tower gate, two zuishin or guardian statues sit in alcoves, ready with their bows and arrows. I guess if the shrine came under attack, the warrior-gods would spring to life and ascend the tower to rain arrows upon the enemy.

Court Yard & Lattice Wall

Before we reach the Main Hall, we crossed beneath an embellished karamon (唐門 – Chinese gate) and into a courtyard surrounded by a sukibei (透塀 – latticed wall). Against a sacred camphor tree, lines upon lines of paper fortunes tied to strings swing lightly in the wind. Dozens of small wooden plaques hang in hopeful anticipation of the new year. As we approached the offering box, I noticed two large Komainu or “lion dogs” guarding the shrine, each with a fierce stony gaze.

Main Hall

Also called a honden in Japanese, Nezu’s main hall is ornately designed with golden embossing along its lintels and pillars. Even the steps leading up and into the chamber seem to shimmer. I peek inside the worship hall and see a wall-to-wall tatami floor and a shrine in the back. I am awe-struck that this beautiful structure survived the firebomb attacks during World War II.

According to nearby kiosks, Nezu shrine itself is built in the Ishi-no-ma-zukuri (石の間造) style, where the worship chamber (拝殿 – haiden) and the inner sanctum (本殿 – honden) are connected under a single roof. If you’re wondering, the haiden is where people gather, and service is held. The honden is off limits to the public since this is where the enshrined kami lives, customarily signified by a mirror or statue.

Main Shrine
Main Shrine

The Legend

Although not officially captured in historical texts, legends say that Nezu shrine was founded in Sendagi during the 1st century by Prince Ōsu (also known as Yamato Takeru), son of Emperor Keikō. At that time, the shrine was dedicated to Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the god of the sea and storms. If this legend were proven to be true, it would date Nezu Shrine as the oldest Shinto shrine in Tokyo.

But in full disclosure, nothing of that 1st-century shrine remains. The Nezu Shrine we see today comes from Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. The shogun moved and entirely rebuilt Nezu Shrine in its current location, and what he kept or didn’t keep from the original shrine is hard to say. However, historical records do state that Tsunayoshi undertook the move of Nezu Shrine in 1705 in a successor-naming celebration.

Nezu Shrine Bunkyo Azalea Festival

Every April, the hills to the west of the Torri tunnel comes alive with thousands of Azalia blossoms from over a hundred different varieties. Amid the colorful blooms, performers and food stalls delight any and all. With the various azalea breeds, the blooming can last a well into May or later, resulting in one of Tokyo’s longest running festivals during the spring season.

I should note that Nezu Shrine for much of the year is free to the public, but during the Azalea Festival you have to pay a small fee of ¥200

Otome Inari Shrine
Otome Inari Shrine