Home » Tower Hall Funabori is Tokyo’s short observatory

Tower Hall Funabori is Tokyo’s short observatory

Tower Hall Funabori is one of Tokyo`s lesser-known observatories.  That shouldn’t be surprising as it is in the lonely east of the city, Edogawa Ward.  Some people might scoff at its height of 115 meters.  You look across the city rather than down on it.  That is refreshing.  It offers a different perspective.

Tokyo Skytree surrounded by buildings

As it is in the eastern part of the city, the bulk of Tokyo is in the west.  All the exciting views are in that direction. An impressive lineup is waiting for your camera! 

suburban Tokyo with Ara and Naka Rivers

I have to say one thing, though.  Tokyo Skytree is close to Funabori, so it gets much attention. But, if the weather is fine, Mount Fuji will appear and steal it back. When the snow-capped mountain appears above the city, it looks majestic.

And under you, two rivers, the enormous Ara and the smaller Naka, meander down from the northwest.  They flow next to each other, separated by a narrow divide with an elevated freeway.  And the added benefit is they provide a welcome break in the endless sea of houses and other buildings in the area.

Tokyo with Naka and Ara rivers

To the south are Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Bay.  Across the water are Chiba and the Boso Peninsula.  It isn’t the most exciting area.

Funabori area

The east has Makuhari Messe and the Kasai area.  Once again, it is a sea of houses punctuated by the occasional cluster of larger buildings.  It is pretty bland until it lights up at night.

In the north is lonely Mt. Tsukuba in Ibaraki prefecture.  I have to be honest here and say the north is the dullest.  It is a sea of monotonous urbanity.  There is nothing here to keep people interested other than to wonder at the size of Tokyo.

suburban Tokyo

Points of interest visible from Tower Hall Funabori

  • Disneyland/Sea

  • The Ferris Wheel at Kasai Rinkai Park

  • Mount Fuji

  • Mount Tsukuba

  • Shinjuku skyscrapers

  • Tokyo Skytree

Photography tips

  • It’s indoor photography. You’ll need to deal with glare on the windows.
  • Space is limited inside (more than ten people will feel crowded).
  • If you don’t have a tripod, there is a ledge around the windows to place your camera for long exposures.
  • If you have a tripod, go to the reception on the 5th floor and fill out the application form to get a photo permit.  By doing this, you’ll be able to use the photographer’s deck below the public one.  It is free to use if you get permission.  If you don’t speak Japanese, don’t worry, the office people are friendly.
  • Most subjects will be several kilometers away, so you might want to take a longer lens.
  • Even though Tower Hall is a minor observatory in Tokyo, it can be crowded on public holidays and Sunday afternoons. I’ve seen lines of people from the entrance back to the elevators. That is about 20 meters!
  • In high winds, the tower will sway. I’ve personally experienced this.
Looking over Naka and Ara rivers

Where is Tower Hall Funabori?

Use the Toei-Shinjuku line to get to Funabori station.  Leave via the north exit, and Tower Hall Funabori will be on the other side of the road.   

Here is a Google map:

Opening hours

Tower Hall is open from 9 am to 8 pm, but operating times can change (e.g., bad weather).

It closes over the New Year period for about a week.  In February and August, it also closes for two days.

Admission costs

Free

Other photo spots near Tower Hall Funabori

If I ever find anything, I’ll let you know.

Tokyo cityscape with Ara and Naka rivers

Wrapping up

Most photographers’ attention will be to the west.  That is where the most interesting scenes are, especially at sunset and night.  And the perspective it gives on the sights of Tokyo is unique.

I doubt Tower Hall Funabori will ever be a threat to Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower. But it does offer a different perspective of the city, which most people will appreciate. In a separate future article, I will post night photos from it.

Tokyo houses and apartment buildings

One last thing. Like many Tokyo tourist spots, you must have a temperature check before entering. Please leave any questions and comments below.

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