Azabudai Hills Observation Deck: My first visit

Azabudai Hills view of Tokyo Tower
Azabudai Hills has a great view of Tokyo Tower.

The Azabudai Hills observation deck might be Tokyo’s latest hotspot for photographers. It offers spectacular views of some of the city’s iconic landmarks. It sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, it has a few flaws, too. But if you want a place for free cityscape photography, check it out.

The building isn’t only about photography. It has high-end retail shops and restaurants. You could spend quite a few hours exploring it. Azabudai Hills will attract hordes of people when it fully opens. I was there for photos on its observation deck, though.

Azabudai Hills view of Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji!

What photo gear did I use for these pictures?

Camera body:  Fujifilm X-T3

Lenses: 

  • Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
  • Fujifilm XF 55-200 mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

How was my Azabudai Hills photography experience?

The observation deck has huge windows. They go from floor to ceiling. You can see so many Tokyo landmarks from the northeast to the southwest. It’s a roughly 180° view from thirty-three floors up. So, at first glance, it seems great. There are problems for photographers, though.

Problems on the observation floor

  • The glare can be terrible, depending on the time of day.
  • No tripods allowed.
  • The floor doesn’t give a full 360° view. You won’t be able to see Shibuya or Shinjuku.
  • Being a new building, it can get crowded.
  • There are no maps at the windows to identify landmarks.

What can you see from the observation deck?

Where is Azabudai Hills?

You can see its location and how to get there on the official website.

Has Azabudai Hills killed Tokyo Tower?

Did you notice how close Tokyo Tower is to Azabudai Hills? I’m sure the owners of Tokyo Tower have. They probably aren’t happy. It has a skyscraper next to it of roughly the same height. Why pay for views that are partially obstructed? I’ll probably never go there again.

But I do love Tokyo Tower as it is an iconic city landmark.  It’s a bright spot in a city of grey. So I will go to Azabudai Hills to photograph it. It makes for a fantastic photo.

Wrapping up

You should check out the Azabudai Hills observation deck. It has fantastic views of the city, especially Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji. You don’t get the full 360° view, but it is free. That seems like a good trade to me.

I’ll be back there one day. The evening views should be fantastic. Tokyo Tower will look amazing. I can’t wait for that! Please leave questions and comments below.

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