This is our comprehensive walkthrough of the Tokyo Skytree. The views are amazing, but is it really worth it? Read this and decide if you want to visit - and check out our tips for beating the ticket queues.
View from 350 meters at Tokyo Skytree. - image © Florentyna Leow
Tokyo Skytree Overview
Tokyo Skytree might not be the tallest building in the world anymore - that honour belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - but at 634 meters tall, it is a landmark to rival landmarks across the world. And like any tall tower worth its salt, there are several observation decks boasting panoramic views open to the public. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo for a reason: the views are second to none, and being up there is a very special (and occasionally nerve-wracking) experience.
This guide is divided into the following sections:
- Buying Tickets
- Getting Here
- Redeeming Your Tickets
- At 350 Meters: Tembo Deck
- At 450 Meters: Tembo Galleria
- Should You Go?
Prices for Skytree Tickets if purchased on the same day. - image © Florentyna Leow
Buying Tickets For Tokyo Skytree
You have two choices when it comes to the Skytree: you could buy tickets on the day, or you can buy them online before you go. We usually suggest purchasing them online to save you time on the day.
Perhaps you're considering simply buying them when you get to the SkyTree. After all, the same-day tickets for the 350 metre observation deck cost JPY2,060 per adult, whereas the online tickets cost JPY2,600 for the same.
The queue for same-day tickets. - image © Florentyna Leow
However, consider the time you'll spend standing in line. This is what the ticket queue on a Saturday afternoon looked like. There is literally no reason for you to queue for tickets when you can breeze past everyone else instead. Do you want to be standing in line with several hundred people for close to an hour? I didn't think so. Skip the queues. Buy your tickets online.
A counter just for tourists. You'll need to show your passport. - image © Florentyna Leow
To be fair, there is a counter specifically for international tourists, tucked away at the back of the building on the same floor next to the escalators. The queues here are likely to be much, much shorter.
Tickets are more expensive at this counter. - image © Florentyna Leow
But you will still pay a small premium if you decide to buy tickets on the day at this counter: going up to 350 meters will set you back JPY3,000, and to 450 meters it is JPY4,000. The online tickets are JPY2,600 and JPY3,600 respectively, AND you get to skip the queues. All you need is 5 minutes to buy a ticket beforehand and print it out. Buying your ticket online is a no-brainer.
You will want to make sure you've purchased your ticket at least a week before you plan on going. The useful thing about purchasing the ticket online is that even if you can't visit on the specified date, you can visit within 29 days from that day. For instance, my ticket was for 15 December, but I could have used the same ticket to visit on 30 December if I hadn't made it there on the correct date. In this case, though, I couldn't have visited on 14 December.
The Skytree from below. - image © Florentyna Leow
Getting To Tokyo Skytree
You'll begin at Tokyo Station. You'll be taking the subway, so head underground and find your way to the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, which is the red line on the map. Tokyo Station only has a stop along the Marunouchi line. Board any train bound for Ikebukuro.
You'll arrive at Otemachi Station after one stop. Alight here and transfer to the Hanzomon Line. Take the train bound for Oshiage.
Oshiage Station. If you needed to be absolutely sure you were at the right place, it even says SKYTREE. - image © Florentyna Leow
After about 15 minutes and 6 stops, you'll arrive at Oshiage Station (Z-14). Alight here.
Exiting Oshiage Station. - image © Florentyna Leow
Head upstairs and towards the Oshiage Gate, pictured above. You'll see Tokyo Skytree Town clearly signposted.
The way there is clearly sign-posted. - image © Florentyna Leow
Veer left and head up the escalators. You'll want to head to the 4th floor where the SkyTree Ticket Counter is. The SkyTree is its own separate building - naturally - but you will be walking through a mall to get there.
Incidentally, Tokyo SkyTree Town is full of shops selling a mix of Japanese foods, toys, cosmetics, and other branded products - perfect if you want to get all your souvenir shopping done in one place. On the other hand, if you hate shopping, you'll definitely want to run through it as fast as you can.
Follow the yellow signed... road? - image © Florentyna Leow
Keep following the large arrows with the yellow signs for the SkyTree Ticket Counter.
At the bottom of the SkyTree. - image © Florentyna Leow
You're heading the right way when you find yourself outdoors. Look up and you'll see the SkyTree.
A separate entrance for reserved ticket holders! - image © Florentyna Leow
Redeeming Your Tokyo Skytree Tickets
We'll assume that you've done the smart thing and purchased your tickets online. There's a separate entrance for people who have reserved tickets. Walk in. Wait about 2 minutes if there are people in front of you.
Your print-out will look something like this. Don't worry if it's in Mandarin. - image © Florentyna Leow
Hand your print-out to the lovely people behind the counter.
Tickets! - image © Florentyna Leow
You'll receive the appropriate tickets.
Skip the queue by buying Skytree tickets online - image © Florentyna Leow
Walk past everyone else still queuing. Head over to the lift that takes you up to the 350m Tembo Observation Deck. The ride is extremely fast, but so smooth that it barely feels like you're in a moving box. The only indication is that your ears are popping. You can't look outside at all, but this is probably a good thing - being able to look outside at the speed at which you're moving would probably cause many people (like myself) to throw up.
Christmas Tree on the Tembo Deck. - image © Florentyna Leow
Tokyo Skytree At 350 Meters: Tembo Deck
I've never really been one for sky-high views or observation decks. I think it is due to having grown up in a tall condominium - views like that are had simply by looking out of the window. But I was genuinely quite taken aback by the view from the SkyTree observation deck. It's one thing to contemplate Tokyo at ground level, and quite another to digest this city top-down.
A mid-afternoon view: barely any clouds in the sky. - image © Florentyna Leow
While I'd wager that the view is impressive any day you go, there is something truly special about a crystal-clear day. The outlines of buildings are stark and sharp, the Sumida River below a deeply moving cerulean blue.
Buildings from above. - image © Florentyna Leow
On an especially clear day you might even see Mt. Fuji in the distance - the holy grail of all views from Tokyo. At the very least, you'll see the faint outline of misty mountains in the distance. It doesn't take a long time to walk around the whole deck, but you'll want to keep looking.
Mascots performing Christmas dances. - image © Florentyna Leow
I visited on a Saturday during the lead-up to Christmas, so they had special performances complete with mascot appearances. It's a good way to keep the kids from running around.
Signs for the Tembo Galleria are clearly marked. - image © Florentyna Leow
Tokyo Skytree At 450 Meters: Tembo Galleria
Once you're ready to head up to the next observation deck, head towards the line for the Tembo Galleria located 450 meters above ground level.
Looking out of the fast-moving elevator. - image © Florentyna Leow
You'll present your ticket to the attendants, who will scan it and hand it back to you. The lift ride takes approximately 30 seconds to whoosh you 100 metres upwards. This time, the ride is significantly scarier: the doors are glass panels and you can see exactly how much higher you're going.
Look above into the bones of the Skytree. - image © Florentyna Leow
There's also a glass panel above where you can see the structure of Tokyo Skytree from the inside - rather like looking into its skeleton.
Tokyo's topography through the glass. - image © Florentyna Leow
The view from up here is nothing short of impressive. If you are anything like me, it is also severely vertigo-inducing. My legs were shaking as I walked towards the windows, even though I knew it was perfectly safe. An extra 100 meters does make a noticeable difference: everything looks that much smaller, and Tokyo's vastness is magnified even further. I almost wanted to run back down to the relative safety of 350 meters.
Follow this corridor. - image © Florentyna Leow
The corridor winds around and upwards.
A fading sky, and mountains in the distance. - image © Florentyna Leow
You'll be rewarded with views like the above on clear days. Once you're done exploring, you can take the elevator back down to the 350 meters.
Visitors looking at the city below. - image © Florentyna Leow
You could head to the Skytree Cafe on the 350th floor, buy a drink and have a seat at the counter overlooking the city. A black coffee will set you back JPY450, but the sweeping vistas you'll enjoy, and the existential crises you'll have looking down at the entirety of Tokyo? Priceless.
Looking down through the glass platform. - image © Florentyna Leow
There's also a glass floor on the 340th floor, located near the elevator which takes you all the way back down to the lobby on the 5th floor.
The sky fading pink into a winter sunset over Tokyo. - image © Florentyna Leow
Should You Go To Tokyo Skytree?
Before I actually visited the Skytree, I was one of those people convinced that it was just another sky-high, overpriced gimmick. I'd always told people that I'd rather look at the tower from afar than be on top of it. Having visited, I still think it's a little gimmicky, but will grudgingly admit that it is a staggering view of Tokyo - especially on a clear day. I actually find myself longing to go again, mostly to sit at the cafe and stare at the city below, nursing an overpriced drink.
The Skytree casting a shadow on buildings below. - image © Florentyna Leow
Anyone with the slightest inclination for aerial city views should put this on their to-go list. Vertigo at 450 meters aside, looking at the entirety of Tokyo from above was an overwhelming experience: the sheer scale of this city gave me no small amount of existential feelings.
The only circumstance under which I would not go again is if I had to stand in that queue. Buy your tickets beforehand or forget about it.
1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045
8:00am - 10:00pm
Closed Sundays, national holidays and some Wednesdays (see calendar)
Starting JPY2,600 online
8-minute walk from Oshiage Station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line or 8-minute walk from Tokyo Skytree Station on the Tobu Skytree Line
Where Is This Place Located?See this place on the Truly Tokyo Google map:
- Open the Tokyo map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world