Tokyo skyline: The Shinjuku evening photos

Tokyo skyline Shinjuku skyscrapers evening view
The Shinjuku skyscrapers in fading evening light.

The Tokyo skyline is incredible. I used to photograph the Shinjuku part from my rooftop regularly. Well, I couldn’t believe it. The last time I did that was in 2022. I realized that after checking my photo archives. That surprised me. Well, I needed to start doing it again. It would be a good chance to see if there were any changes. There were a couple.

In April 2024, I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed upstairs. The view of Shinjuku from the eleventh-floor rooftop is amazing. I took two lenses with me, my trustworthy 16-55 mm and the 55-200 mm. The results surprised me. They were a mixed bag.

As always, the 16-55 photos were nice and sharp. I couldn’t say the same for the 55-200 mm. Most of those were blurred. Those shocked me. I had never got so many bad pictures from that lens.

Why? There might have been two causes. One is that I need to put the barrel of the lens through a suicide fence. Yes, they are a real thing. Many years ago, my building was famous. It was once the tallest building in the area and people would jump from it. Sad but true.

Tokyo Skytree evening with surrounding skyscrapers
Tokyo Tower with Azabudai Hills on the left.

Anyway, I can get the lens barrel through the gap in the rails. There is hardly a space between it and the fence rails, though. So in the darkness maybe I didn’t check carefully enough to see they weren’t touching. That is one possibility.

The other reason might be the lens’ Onboard Image Stabilization (OIS). It’s often said that this can cause blur images if shooting from a tripod with it turned on. After checking my gear, that was the case. I didn’t turn it off. Was I lucky in years of previous shoots when I did long-exposures with it? That could be a possibility. Of course, I can’t be sure.

Whatever the case, my efforts were in vain on my first night with the 55-200. I retook the photos in early May when the atmospheric conditions were about the same. I made sure the OIS was off. Finally, the results were good enough.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government building and Shinjuku skyscrapers
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is in the middle.

What were the Tokyo skyline changes?

Please remember I was focused on Shinjuku. In a straight line, it’s about ten kilometers from my apartment. So, I have a good, wide view of the skyscrapers. You can also just see Ikebukuro to the left. Tokyo Tower is on the right. I know the area well, but it might be hard to notice changes with the naked eye for the uninitiated.

Nishi-Shinjuku skyscraper with Tokyo Skytree behind
Tokyo Skytree with Kabukicho Tower topped by white lights.

In 2024, I could see two changes. One of them was a new Shinjuku skyscraper, Kabukicho Tower. This building can be difficult to spot. It is 225 meters, about the same as everything around it.

The other change wasn’t in Shinjuku but in the field of view. It was Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower near Tokyo Tower in Minato City. I’ve photographed from its observation deck before, you can see the pictures here. When it was completed in 2023, it was the tallest building in Japan at 325.2 meters. It will dominate the Tokyo skyline until the monster Tokyo Torch is completed.

Shinjuku Park Tower and Tokyo Opera City
Shinjuku Park Tower (L) and Tokyo Opera City (R).

Conclusion

Yes, I had initial problems with the 55-200 mm lens. Was the OIS or the lens barrel the cause? It’s hard to say. Anyway, I took more care the second time and got good results. I was happy.

Shinjuku skyscrapers evening view
The Shinjuku skyline at night.

I saw changes to the aging Tokyo skyline. They weren’t huge. But it was good to see the new Kabukicho and Azabudai Hills Mori JP Towers. They have added something to the cityscape.

Photographing these changes reminded me of the dynamic nature of Tokyo’s skyline. Shinjuku’s skyscrapers are impressive, particularly in the early evening light. I plan to experiment with long exposures and cloud formations one day! That will be something to see.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have you encountered similar challenges with your equipment? What are your favorite spots to photograph the Tokyo skyline? Please leave your comments and constructive criticisms below.

For more photos taken from my rooftop, look at:

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2 thoughts on “Tokyo skyline: The Shinjuku evening photos”

  1. Intresting! My work place is in Shinjyuku and from windows, I see greens; Toyama Park and Shinjyuku sports park, no highrise buildings. When I go out, I see Kabukicho tower front of me and Ikebukuro Sunshine on my back. I always think my work place is the best embironment sorrounding with green even it sits in heart of big city in Shinjyuku. I was told that the white part of the top of Kabukicho Tower was painted white, and it looks like lace, pretty and unusual design!

    1. Hi MMI. Thanks for dropping by!
      You are lucky working where you are. Yes, you are correct about Kabukicho Tower. It is white at the top and blue below. Actually, the building reminds of Sigourney Weaver’s residence in Ghostbusters! I’m planning on doing an article about it, one day. But I will have to look for some good angles for photos first though.

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