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Tokyo Tower – a short photography guide

In the middle of Tokyo is one of its oldest icons, Tokyo Tower.  It opened in 1958 and has been a popular photographer’s attraction ever since.  So many sights and scenes are visible from its observation decks.  It is a fabulous place to shoot the city.

Zojoji seen from Tokyo Tower
You can see Zojoji Temple in the middle.

If you don’t know, Tokyo Tower has two observation floors.  One of them is 150 meters above the ground and another at 250 meters.  This article is only concerned with the lower one.  One day, I’ll get to the upper one!

skyscrapers near Tokyo Tower

But the views?  They are excellent.  In some directions, you can see very far.  But in others, not so.  When the tower opened, it was the tallest structure in the city, but the area kept evolving.  Taller and taller buildings have gone up over the years.  There are many clusters of them throughout the city.  At times it reminds me of the Deathstar from Star Wars.  Concrete, steel, and glass cover the landscape. 

The skyscrapers around the tower make the views more attractive.  In some areas, they are so close together they block views completely.  While in other places, there are gaps through which to shoot.  It has created photo opportunities.  Tokyo has a sci-fi look.  Not everyone likes it, but I do.

Tokyo skyscrapers
Tokyo skyscrapers near Tokyo Tower

A brief history of Tokyo Tower

In 1953 the government broadcaster NHK started operations.  Private companies soon followed suit.  As airwaves filled, the Japanese government believed they’d need many transmitters.  That was something it wanted to avoid.  The solution was to construct one large tower that covered the entire region.  It would also be a monument to the country’s growing economic prosperity.  And they’d base it on the most cultured of structures, the Eiffel Tower.

Atago Green Hills Mori Tower and Tokyo Skytree
Atago Green Hills Mori Tower and Tokyo Skytree

What can you see from the tower?

Photography Tips

  • The observation decks can get quite crowded, but that is something you have to deal with at places like this;
  • Depending on the time of day, the reflections in some of the windows can be pretty bad;
  • If you want to photograph the tower itself, the colors can change depending on the day and season.  You can get more information about lighting here;
  • The ledges along the windows are narrow.  Some people use them to place their cameras for long exposures.  Smaller cameras are better here, and;
  • The western areas have no large obstructions, so photographing Mount Fuji is possible.  The eastern area overlooking Rainbow Bridge towards Chiba is similar.
skyscrapers and Shinjuku area
You can see the Shinjuku skyscrapers in the distance.

Where is Tokyo Tower?

Six train and subway stations are nearby!  They include Akebanebashi, Daimon, Hamamatsucho, Kamiyacho, Onarimon, and Shibakoen.

Here is a Google map: 

Opening hours

The main deck is open from 9:30 am to 11 pm, with last admission at 10.30 pm;

The top deck is open from 9 pm to 10:45 pm with last entry at 10:15 pm, and;

Before any visit, it would be advisable to check the website for complete details.

Roppongi Hills seen from Tokyo Tower

Admission costs

The main deck is ¥1200, while the top one is ¥3000. For full details, please consult the Tokyo Tower website.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge.
Izumi Garden Tower

Other photo spots near Tokyo Tower

After you have finished at Tokyo Tower, you could easily walk to these:

  • Hamarikyu Gardens
  • Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens
  • Rainbow Bridge
  • Roppongi Hills
  • Shiba Park (especially in spring for its plum blossoms)
  • Shinbashi (and the Sky View observatory)
  • Zojoji (temple)

Wrapping up

Tokyo Tower has some flaws, but it is a great place as far as I’m concerned.  It’s fantastic for those who enjoy skyscrapers and cityscapes.  And considering the price (for the main deck), it’s good value.  Even after over fifty years of service, it is still going strong.

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