Tokyo From Above

Tokyo Tower Shadow

Being a metropolitan city, Tokyo has many skyscrapers, a few of which provides tourists access to an observation deck where they can take in the city view from a high vantage point. I’ve always loved going up tall buildings and other structures when I get the chance to, as I loved viewing a place from high up. It lets me see far and wide (assuming the weather is good of course.)

During my short trip to Tokyo last year, I managed to go up to a few of the popular observation decks. The opening shot was taken from the main observatory of Tokyo Tower, which is 150m above sea level. It was an excellent day and the sun has cast a shadow of the tower onto the ground below, giving an alternate view of the iconic tower.

The great weather also meant that I was able to see Mt. Fuji in the distance. This was my first sighting of Japan’s most famous volcano.

View of Mt. Fuji and Tokyo City from Tokyo Tower
The Zojoji Temple nearby among the colourful fall foliage.

Even taller at 350m is the newly-built Tokyo Sky Tree, which is also a television broadcasting tower of Tokyo. I had originally wanted to get an evening shot from the tower before it turned dark, but queue times were long, and by the time we got in, the sky has already turned pitch black. It doesn’t help that it was autumn and the sun set much earlier at around 5pm local time.

Fortunately, unlike the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation deck (more on that later), the interior of the Skytree’s observation deck is much dimmer. This lets visitors see the city view much more clearly without annoying reflections. As it was dark, I used a Gorillapod SLR Zoom to stablise the camera.

View of Tokyo from the Tokyo Sky Tree. Tokyo Tower can be seen in the distance.

I also tried doing a panoramic shot and was pleased it turned out reasonably well.

Panoramic view of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree

For those who doesn’t want to pay an entrance fee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has an observation deck where visitors can enter for free. However, the deck has several bright lights, causing reflections on the glass panels which ruin any attempt to shoot the scene outside. To make things worse, the panels are made of double-layer glass, so even if you tried to hold your camera up against the glass, there’s still a chance of reflection from the outer pane.

To get a shot, I put the camera on the Gorillapod SLR Zoom on the ledge and shielded the camera + window with my jacket, then using the Nikon ML-L3 wireless remote, triggered the camera with my other hand inside the jacket. After a few attempts, I got the following.

View from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observatory.

Nikon Plaza in Shinjuku also offers a free view of the city from their 28th floor showroom.

View from Nikon Plaza Shinjuku. The Tokyo Sky Tree can just barely be seen in the distance.

Lastly, although not as tall as the above locations, Ricoh’s headquarters/showroom/gallery in Ginza offers a view of the streets and the Wako Building and Hattori Clock Tower.

Wako Building + Hattori Clock Tower


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