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Bunkyo Civic Center Observatory is almost perfect

The Bunkyo Civic Center is one of my favorite observatories in Tokyo.  With its round shape, it looks like a flying saucer (at least half of one) has landed on a building.  And considering that it is only twenty-five floors up, the views are excellent.  I’ve been there many, many times and love it.

Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree seen from the Bunkyo Civic Center Observatory

If I’m not mistaken, most photographers go there for two views.  One is the Shinjuku skyline.  The other is Tokyo Skytree.  Both are fantastic. 

Shinjuku skyscrapers and Mount Fuji at sunset

The Shinjuku views are good during the day.  You can see its skyscrapers and even Mount Fuji, weather permitting.  But it is the sunsets, which can be incredible.  With the sun behind the buildings, the sight can be magnificent.  On fine days, you’ll often see a line of photographers at the windows.


You can also see Tokyo Skytree, which also offers good opportunities for photography.  During the day, it looks impressive, towering above everything else in the area.  But, at night, it is spectacular – like a lighthouse in an ocean of lights.

If you walk around the viewing deck, you’ll see a lot.  Among the sites are Ikebukuro, Tokyo University’s famous clock tower, and Koishikawa-Korakuen.  Sadly, a new building close to the observatory blocks the views to the north.

Tokyo city skyline

Another thing is that the observatory is spacious.  You won’t be bumping into people.  And it has some bar tables, chairs, and drink machines.  If you need a rest, you can do that!

At Bunkyo Civic Center, you’ll learn something interesting about the city.  Most of the buildings are relatively low.  Skyscrapers cluster in specific areas; they aren’t everywhere.  Shinjuku is one, as is Ikebukuro, but between them are none.  And then, from Ikebukuro across to Akihabara, there are hardly any again.  Tokyo seems to be flat in many places!

Ikebukuro skyline
The Ikebukuro skyline in the early evening.

As for problems, the Center has two small ones.  It is a bit far from most of Tokyo’s major tourist sites.  Only Tokyo Dome, with its amusement park and Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, are near.

The other is that the observatory has only a 330⁰ view.  That is due to a restaurant at the back of the floor.  And you also need to enter it if you want to see Tokyo Tower. For a 360⁰ view, you need to go somewhere else.

Koishikawa Botanical Gardens
The trees in the middle is Koishikawa Botanical Garden.

What can you photograph from the Bunkyo Civic Center Observatory?

Photography tips

  • Most of the windows have ledges.  You can put a camera on them for long exposure photography.  That is useful as monopods and tripods are banned.
  • The windows are large and angled out, so it is possible to get a good view down.
  • Before sunset, it is possible to find some great shadows on the buildings.
Tokyo afternoon sun on buildings

Where is the Bunkyo Civic Center?

The closest station is Korakuen on the Marunouchi and Nanboku lines.  It is a one or two-minute walk from either.  Leave via exit 6.  If you use the Mita/Oedo line’s Kasuga station, leave via the “Bunkyo Civic Center” exit. 

Here is a Google Map:

Admission costs

Free

Tokyo buildings

Observatory opening hours

<Temporarily closed due to coronavirus>

Usually, Bunkyo Civic Center is open from 9 am to 8:30 pm seven days a week.  It closed on the third Sunday in May and over the New Year period, from December 29 to January 3.

Other photo spots near Bunkyo Civic Center Observatory

Wrapping up

Bunkyo Civic Center observatory is great for cityscape photographs. It isn’t perfect, but it comes close.  And it is rarely crowded. Photographers should enjoy it, especially at sunset. You can see its Japanese website here.

pedestrian crossing

To see the Bunkyo Civic Center’s Japanese language website, click here. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

3 thoughts on “Bunkyo Civic Center Observatory is almost perfect”

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