Tokyo Government Building, the landmark of Shinjuku skyscrapers
Upon its completion in 1990, people were astounded to see this towering ultra-modern building, appearing to pierce the sky. People felt like they had accidently come to the future. But no, this was the new Tokyo Government Building – the central administration building for the government of Tokyo.
Planning for the construction began at the height of the Japanese bubble economy. The highest building in Tokyo at the time, the Tokyo Government Building was designed by a world famous architect, Kenzo Tange. At the time of its completion, there were some criticisms that the building was an unnecessarily large facility built at the expense of the metropolitan taxpayers. However, today it serves an important role as the strikingly high landmark among the Shinjuku skyscrapers.
The free observation deck 200m above ground
If you have the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Government Building, make sure to go to the observation deck.
Use the elevator to get up to the 45th floor and enjoy the view of Tokyo from a deck 202 meters above ground. You will be able to see many of the famous Tokyo tourist spots including the Tokyo Skytree in the northeast direction, the Tokyo Tower in the southeast direction, and the skyscrapers of the Shinjuku subcenter in the southwest direction. When the weather is good and the view is clear, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.
Inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the building was designed to have two towers at the south and the north. Each tower has an observation deck. Both observatories are open to the public but be sure to check the operating schedule as they are closed alternatively on different days. The observatories are open until 23:00; still giving you plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful nightscape of Tokyo after a full day of enjoying sightseeing and shopping in the Shinjuku area. Stop by casually as no fee is required. Enjoy the amazing view of Tokyo from the observation deck while feeling the energy of the city with a population of 13.35 million people. There are several restaurants in the government building that deserve mention. The dining hall for government staff on the 32nd floor is open to tourists during lunch time (11:30 to 14:00). This dining hall serves items typical of a Japanese workplace cafeteria such as ramen noodles and set meals with rice and miso soup; having your lunch here may provide a good opportunity to experience the daily life of Japanese people. Here are the workplace cafeteria/dining hall rules. Most Japanese workplace dining halls are set up in a cafeteria style. You buy lunch tickets at a vending machine, get in a line, and then pick up your dish. While the cafeteria is crowded with staff at noon since lunch break starts for most of the staff around 12:00, it would be fun to go around that time to check out the bustling cafeteria. The government building offers other dining options as well. At the South Observatory is Tokyo Café 202, and at the North Observatory is Good View Tokyo. Notably, Good View Tokyo at the North Observatory is open until 23:00. (On days when the north tower Good View Tokyo is closed, the south tower Tokyo Café 202 stays open until 23:00.)
Visitors are more than welcome to drop by just to enjoy one or two drinks. Top off your day of Tokyo sightseeing with a beautiful nightscape; looking out the window of a café 202 meters above the ground, perhaps over a glass of wine, having a relaxing pleasant time.