Though it hasn’t gained the same degree of popularity as Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, also known as Tochō, is a great place to get a free view of the city. In good weather famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and the Meiji Shrine are visible from the towers. As a government building, the wheelchair accessibility is great.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the seat of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The building consists of a complex of three structures, each taking up a city block. The tallest and most prominent of the three is Tokyo Metropolitan Main building No.1, a tower 48 stories tall that splits into two sections at the 33rd floor. Though it is designed to look like a computer chip, it looks more like a Gothic cathedral in shape.
There are two panoramic observation decks, one in each tower on floor 45. Both are free of charge.
The North Observatory has a number of souvenir shops and an Italian restaurant (which takes up part of the floor and half of the windows). It is closed the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month (next day if national holiday). It is open from 9:30-23:00 – this makes it the better observatory for night views.
The South Observatory is much more open and bright and has a large cafe in the middle of the floor as well as a small souvenir shop. It closes earlier than the North Observatory, and is only open from 9:30-17:30. On days when the North Observatory is closed, the South Observatory is open until 23:00. It closes the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month (next day if Tuesday is a National Holiday).
Both towers stop admitting people 30 minutes before closing time. With the exception of January 1st, both observatories close from December 29 to January 3rd for the New Years Holidays.
Tochō-Mae Station on the Oedo Line is located right under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. However, if you are not already on the Oedo Line, Tocho is only a 10-15 minute walk from Shinjuku’s west exits. There is even an underground path from the B1 floor.
- Tochō-Mae (Toei Oedo Line, Exit A4)
- Shinjuku Station (Numerous lines/exits!)
Clicking on the station name will show you a map of station layout, showing exits with elevators and the location of accessible toilets (Shinjuku is too big and complicated to show).
Being a government building, the accessibility of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is very good. It is built like a regular office building, so there is no special fanfare other than a bag check at the bottom of the elevator. It doesn’t get too crowded and it is easy to navigate the stores. Both towers have an accessible toilet near the elevator on the 45th floor. It is roped-off to ensure that it is only used by those who need it. There is a staff member nearby at all times that will remove the rope. Returning to the ground floor, the elevator typically stops on the 2nd floor, however this leads to an escalator so the staff at the top of the elevator will instruct you to get off at the first floor instead.
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Though not as tall or new as Tokyo Skytree nor as iconic as Tokyo tower, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers great views of the city, is free, and has excellent wheelchair accessibility. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth visiting.