Japan has the reputation of being very expensive, which is why it is not a very common destination among backpackers. And to be honest, it’s true – Japan is not cheap, especially in comparison to other countries in (Southeast) Asia. You can still backpack the country without completely breaking the bank though! All it requires is a little research.
One of the things that I wanted to do whilst in Tokyo, was to head up one of the many observation decks. The most famous one is probably Tokyo Skytree, the second tallest tower in the world. There are observation decks on the 350th and 450th floor which are open for visitors to enjoy the view across the city. I’m sure the views must be awesome, but the prices for entering are just as high as the tower. A ticket to the highest observation deck on the 450th floor sets you back a whopping 3090 Yen! Furthermore, if you opt for the Fast Skytree Ticket which allows you to skip the line, it will even cost you 4000 Yen. 4000 Yen!! YIKES.
Paying 25-35€ for only one activity was certainly not in my budget, so I decided to look for a cheaper alternative. As it turns out, there are lots of observation decks in Tokyo that are completely free!
Metropolitan Government Building
As I was spending my day around Shibuya, I decided to go up the Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho) which is very close by in Shinjuku. With a height of 200 metres, the building is fairly small in comparison to Tokyo Skytree, which is about 630 metres high. Still, I really enjoyed the view across Tokyo from the Metropolitan Government Building.
There are two observation decks, which are both are free to visit. From the South Observation Deck, which is open until 5.30pm, you can apparently see the Odaiba district. As I was there in the evening though, I went up the North Observation Deck, which is great for enjoying Tokyo at night.
How to Get to the Metropolitan Government Building?
The building is super easy to reach. You can either take the Oedo Subway Line to Tochomae Station, or alternatively get there from JR Shinjuku Station, which is just a short walk away.
For more information on free observation decks, you can check out this website, which features eight different observation towers in Tokyo.