Tokyo: An Architecture Lover’s Dream
From old buildings that have stayed relatively intact for hundreds of years to the most modern and innovative new creations, you can find it all in Tokyo in terms of architectural wonders.
You can find dozens of buildings in all pockets of Tokyo that you’ll want to see in person in order to truly grasp their beauty and allure.
Sightseeing is certainly plentiful in Tokyo, as the iconic buildings that you must see to believe are simply just a snapshot of what you can visit in Tokyo. There are also plenty of green spaces, natural wonders, and so much more.
It’s truly remarkable to make your way through Tokyo to get a look at all the iconic buildings in the very large city knowing that some buildings have been in place for centuries while others have only been built in the last hundred years or so.
The iconic landmarks contain some of the most fascinating buildings and exhibit the incredible skyline of Tokyo in others.
The architectural style of these landmarks range from ancient to ultra modern. Here’s our list of the top 30 iconic buildings to see across Tokyo’s urban landscape.
You don’t have to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower; the Tokyo Tower resembles one of the most iconic structures in the world.
You can go inside the tower as well, which is highly recommended to get an incredible view of the Tokyo Skytree from the observation deck.
The tower is easily one of the most recognized buildings in Japan.
Although not the tallest structure in Tokyo its definitely one of the most well known central Tokyo attractions. The height of Tokyo tower is 1092 feet.
The Tokyo Skytree is a marvel in architecture in many ways, and incorporates a combination of traditional and modern Japanese elements. What’s more, it happens to be the tallest tower of its kind in the world.
You are likely to see the skytree in the distance from various parts of Tokyo, but you can also take a look down at the beauty of Tokyo from the skytree’s observation deck.
It’s well known as Tokyo’s tallest building at 2080 feet. The Tokyo skyline is a breathtaking thing to see at skytrees top decks.
Tokyo Station is not just a place to catch a train; it’s a building that truly stands out in contrast to the typical buildings you see in Tokyo.
You can’t miss the station with its signature red brick facade and European influence. Inside you’ll find several train platforms, an entrance to the opulent Shangri-la Hotel, and even a gallery filled with stunning art.
Sensoji Temple is an important spiritual haven for Buddhists, but you don’t have to be spiritual to find this temple marvelous.
It’s nestled within an older part of Tokyo, and is surrounded by a traditional gate and a nearby pagoda.
It also happens to be the oldest temple you can find in Tokyo, as it’s been in place for centuries.
Tokyo Imperial Palace
Even if you can’t go inside, taking a leisurely stroll around the palace grounds makes you feel as though you’re stepping on royal land.
Tokyo International Forum
Some major events have been held in the Tokyo International Forum, which is an expansive convention and event space in Japan.
There are dozens of rooms and spaces available for all kinds of gatherings, as well as various exhibits and restaurants.
Even if you’re not attending an event, it’s worth visiting the forum, even if you just admire the architecture from the outside.
The Tokyo Dome is a must-see space in Tokyo. As the name would imply, the building is shaped like a half dome that is larger than life, and inside you can enjoy the occasional sports game or play inside the amusement park.
When you’re looking to take a break from all the fun, you can sit down and watch a movie inside the dome’s theater.
There’s something powerful about being able to step inside a place that has been admired by people for centuries.
The shrine itself has been kept in immaculate condition, as is the surrounding outdoor area.
Kanda Myojin Shrine
If you want to be able to admire a structure that has been in Japan for a long time, you have several to choose from, including the Kanda Myojin Shrine.
You feel transported back to old Japan with the mixture of gold and vermillion hues that make up this traditional pagoda-style shrine.
The classic torii gate outside of the shrine welcomes you to a truly picturesque piece of history.
Akasaka Palace truly is a palace, and even just glancing at it from afar will take your breath away.
The space is reserved for special visitors from foreign countries as a state house, so you’re not able to just walk inside.
However, the construction design and building can still be adequately admired from the outside.
Daikanransha is not a building; it’s actually a Ferris wheel that was once the biggest Ferris wheel in the entire world.
You can find this architectural wonder in Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, and it’s part of the incredibly fun and exciting Palette Town entertainment area. It’s a great place to spend a beautiful day or evening.
The Docomo Tower recently underwent a name change; it used to be known as NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building.
It’s one of the many skyscrapers that can be found throughout Tokyo, and is easily distinguished by the large clock built into its facade.
This shrine might not be the biggest or most elaborate in Tokyo, but Hanazono Shrine encapsulates a lot of signature features of Japanese building design.
From the red exterior to the gold accents to the cherry blossom trees that surround it, the shrine gives you a look at what buildings were often like during the Edo period of Japan.
Gotokuji Temple has a special place in historical storytelling and is also a place of spiritual significance.
It’s also purported to be the birthplace of the famous waving cat, also known as mani-neko.
You can purchase yourself a mani-neko to bring home or set it amongst the temple’s collection to bring some good luck to yourself.
Fuji TV Network Headquarters Building
The headquarters of the famous Fuji TV network is quite fascinating to look at, and may even be considered a bit confusing in design which is part of its appeal.
The building also offers an observation deck that gives you an impressive view of the nearby Odaiba waterfront.
The Ghibli Museum is a bit of a strange looking building from the outside, but once you get closer and take a look inside, it truly is something extraordinary.
You can get a glimpse behind the scenes of Studio Ghibli’s animations, let you kids play around in the play area, and get a breath of fresh air atop the rooftop garden.
Yoyogi National Gymnasium
You can find a few cool buildings in Yoyogi Park including the national gymnasium. It’s a fairly new build comparatively, and is home to a very large sports complex.
Its original purpose was to house several games during the 1964 Olympics, and it was also meant to support the 2020 Olympics until they were canceled.
Nakagin Capsule Tower
A capsule hotel concept is an innovative type of accommodation that makes you feel like you’ve been transported into the future, even though the structure has been around since the 70s.
Nakagin Capsule Tower is one such hotel that you can stay in and experience staying in one of these cozy rooms with spectacular views. ( note the capsule tower is no longer part of Tokyo’s skyline. But still worth remembering. )
Asahi Beer Hall
Asahi beer is a favorite in Japan, and so is the eccentric design of the brewery’s headquarters and has large amounts of office spaces.
You can’t walk past the beer hall without noticing the very large gold accent on top of part of the building, which is often referred to as The Golden Poop.
The gold structure is actually meant to be a flame, but the moniker is quite hilarious. Just one of many points of interest along the Sumida river.
Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower
If you’re a fan of modern and conceptual architecture, you’ll want to make your way to the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower in Tokyo.
As the name suggests, the building resembles a butterfly’s cocoon. The tower is home to a couple of education centers, and it’s probably one of the most distinctive buildings you’ll lay your eyes on.
The Kabuki-za Theater has the look of an old theater mixed with Japanese style elements.
The dazzling building pays homage to the art of kabuki, giving tourists an opportunity to learn more about it while also being able to enjoy a few treats and buy some kabuki-themed souvenirs.
What’s more, you can take in a performance of this traditional art form, which is a mixture of dancing, music, and artistic expression.
SunnyHills Minami Aoyama Store
Japan is home to some of the most skilled architects and designers, and the SunnyHills Minami Aoyama Store is a perfect example of that.
The store is actually a cake shop, so you can savor a scrumptious piece of cake while examining the incredibly creative and innovative space.
The building consists of several wooden beams arranged in a diamond-like pattern, and is so distinctive and strange that you might not realize it’s actually a cake shop until you step inside.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
You might not think a Tokyo government building could be interesting, but this cascading tower certainly is.
You’re even able to go inside and look out from one of their observation decks to get one-of-a-kind views of the city of Tokyo and beyond.
The building itself also offers some eateries and shops to browse through.
Japan National Stadium
Tokyo is home to a lot of stadiums and entertainment spaces, and the Japan National Stadium is one of the most interesting to look at.
The stadium is shaped like a circle, with a large open area in the middle. It’s one of the newest buildings in Japan as it was constructed specifically for the 2020 Olympics. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma.
Tokyo Big Sight
Tokyo Big Sight is perhaps one of the most unique buildings you’ll ever see; it’s almost impossible to miss the upside-down pyramids that surround the conference tower.
This building is an event space of epic proportions, hosting a ton of major events throughout the year.
Tokyo National Museum
Not only does the Tokyo National Museum hold several important mementos and artifacts of Japan’s past and present, but the museum in and of itself has great significance.
It’s the oldest museum that exists in Japan. There is so much to see inside this museum; you can take a look at over 100,000 historical items. The surrounding Ueno Park is also just as marvelous.
National Diet Building
The National Diet is the name for Japan’s legislative body, and the building they meet in is incredibly beautiful.
Interestingly enough, the design of the building was carefully curated to participate in an architecture contest.
The stark white building with several columns stands out from a lot of Japanese architecture but it’s still fascinating to see.
As you ascend towards the temple to take a look at its traditional beauty, you can also see the Tokyo Tower in the background.
Roppongi Hills is technically not just an iconic building, but is actually an area filled with beautiful buildings that offer a range of museums, restaurants, and more.
It’s also situated in a high elevation area, so visiting the area lets you get a unique viewpoint of some of Tokyo’s gorgeous buildings.
Sekiguchi Catholic Church
The Sekiguchi Catholic Church is also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, and is one of few Catholic churches in Japan.
From the outside, it’s very hard to tell that this unique building is in fact a church given how futuristic the design is.
The church that once stood in its place was more reminiscent of an old church, but the place had to be rebuilt after World War II and was eventually renovated again.
Tokyos Neverending Attractions
Whether your visiting Tokyo to visit one of its many concert halls, take a stroll across the rainbow bridge or an attempt to see Mount Fuji on a clear day there is a neverendling list of things to see in Japans largest city.
Tokyo’s most famous buildings are definitely worth exploring. Exploring things at street level at Shibuya crossing or making your way to the roppongi hills mori tower.
The top floor of many buildings will have some of the best place to relax and take in an incredible view.