Tower Hall Funabori is Tokyo’s short observatory

Tokyo Skytree surrounded by buildings

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.

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!

I have to say one thing, though. Tokyo Skytree is close to Funabori, so it gets more attention. But, if the weather is fine, most visitors will look at Mount Fuji. It might be small in the distance, but it is important in Japan. When the snow-capped mountain appears above the city, it looks majestic.

Tokyo with Naka and Ara rivers

And under you, two rivers, the enormous Ara and the smaller Naka meander 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.

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.

Look east and looks like a sea of apartment buildings

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.

suburban Tokyo with Ara and Naka Rivers

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.

What can you photograph from Tower Hall Funabori

  • Disneyland/Sea
  • The Ferris Wheel at Kasai Rinkai Park
  • Mount Fuji
  • Mount Tsukuba
  • Rainbow Bridge
  • Shinjuku skyscrapers
  • Tokyo Skytree
  • Tokyo Tower

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 need longer lenses.
  • 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!

Other photo spots in the area

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

Tokyo cityscape with Ara and Naka rivers

Tower Hall Funabori details

See the observatory’s location, opening hours, and other details on the official website.

suburban Tokyo

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.

Funabori area

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.

Looking over Naka and Ara rivers

For more observatory articles, look at:

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