Around 38 million people live in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, making it the largest metro area in the world. Perhaps it comes as no surprise to learn that it is also home to more than 160 skyscrapers. These are buildings that are taller than 492 feet (150 meters) high. But that’s not all; Tokyo also boasts several structures even higher, including Tokyo Tower and the unsurpassed Tokyo Skytree!
Tokyo’s top five tallest buildings and structures are, from the tallest, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Toranomon Hills complex, Midtown Tower, and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1.
What better way to get to know a city than by observing it from above? Any trip to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to at least one of the city’s breathtaking skyscrapers or towers, and this list will surely help inspire you to choose the one that’s best for you. Perhaps you will even explore all five!
1. Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
Tokyo’s two tallest structures are not actual buildings, but rather towers. The tallest is Tokyo Skytree, which is an icon of the city’s crowded skyline.
It stands an incredible 2,080 feet (634 meters) tall. Not only is it Tokyo’s highest structure, but it is also the second-highest in the world behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Located in Tokyo’s Sumida ward, it was built in stages between 2009, when the three main legs were completed, and 2011 when the tower reached its final height.
Tokyo Skytree is a television and radio broadcast site for Tokyo’s Kanto region and its height is needed to broadcast over the surrounding skyscrapers.
It was built with three concepts in mind:
1. As a fusion of Japan’s traditional beauty and neo-futuristic design
2. It will be a catalyst to bring excitement back to the area
3. It will help prevent disasters through its earthquake-resistant design
The tower’s base is a tripod, while the bulk of the tower is cylindrical in shape. There are ‘skypod’ observation decks at 1,150 feet (350 meters) and 1,480 feet (450 meters) high.
Not for the faint-hearted, the upper observatory allows thrill-seekers to walk on a platform of glass so that can look at the city directly below.
The Skytree was designed and manufactured using the latest earthquake-resistant technology. It has seismic proofing, including dampers that cushion the frame during tremors.
Thanks to its modern architectural design, you have nothing to fear from a visit to one of its two spectacular observations decks. At these heights, this view of Tokyo is unsurpassed.
2. Tokyo Tower (東京タワー)
Before the Tokyo Skytree was built, the city’s tallest structure was the Tokyo Tower. Today, it is Tokyo’s second tallest tower and it stands 1,092 feet (332.9 meters) tall.
Located in Tokyo’s Shiba-ken district of Minato, it was built way back in 1958 to support a broadcasting antenna.
With an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice frame and white and orange paintwork, it is hard to miss and arguably Tokyo’s most conspicuous structure. The paintwork is a requirement to comply with aviation safety regulations.
Like the Tokyo Skytree, you can visit the tower’s two observation decks.
There is the two-story Main Deck which is 490 feet (150 meters) high or the smaller Top Deck which is 819 feet (249.6 meters) high. Both offer spectacular views of the city.
The tower is repainted every five years and it takes almost a whole year to finish the job!
3. Toranomon Hills complex (虎ノ門ヒルズ)
Toranomon Hills is the first building on the list and it stands 838 feet (255.5 meters) high. It is a skyscraper complex rather than a single building and at 838 feet (255.5 meters) tall, it is Tokyo’s tallest building, and the highest building in Japan. The tip is even higher, standing 846 feet (258 meters) tall.
Named for the Toranomon district in Minato, it was completed in 2014 and is home to the Andaz Hyatt Tokyo Toranomon Hills boutique hotel, 127 private offices, conference spaces, retail spaces, and parking for 544 cars.
If you have no fear of heights, you can even sit back and relax with a drink at the rooftop bar. It’s the perfect place to see out the day with a sip of your favorite beverage and a beautiful sunset.
Toranomon Hills was built straddling Loop Road No. 2, one of Tokyo’s main thoroughfares. Many people were forced to leave their homes to make way for the road, but a large number moved into the tower’s residential spaces.
4. Midtown Tower (ミッドタウンタワー)
This 54-story skyscraper was Tokyo’s tallest building between 2007 and 2014, at which point it was overtaken by its neighbor, the Toranomon Hills complex.
Standing 814 feet (248 meters) tall, it has several conference rooms, a gallery and exhibition space, a medical facility, and office spaces.
Unlike several other buildings in the area, including Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, its top floor is not an observation deck but a space for maintenance facilities.
5. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁舎)
Tokyo’s fifth-tallest building is the headquarters for its Metropolitan Government. It held the title for Tokyo’s tallest building between 1991 and 2007, at which point it was surpassed by Midtown Tower.
For those of you whose interests lean towards politics, it boasts the title of being the world’s tallest city hall!
Standing at 798 feet (243 meters) high, it is still the tallest building in Shinjuku ward, towering over many of Tokyo’s tallest skyscrapers. It is actually comprised of three structures, each of which is as large as a city block!
The design is reminiscent of medieval gothic cathedrals such as Paris’ Notre Dame, with a solid base and two identical towers which split on the 33rd floor.
You can enjoy panoramic views of Tokyo at one of its two observations decks and both can be found on the 45th floor of each tower. They are 663 feet (202 meters) high.
And do you want to know the best part? Both are free to use and a great way to experience Tokyo.