“The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G.K. Chesterton
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve arrived in Japan to be a tourist or a traveller.
When you have boarded the flight to Japan, you’d already know that this is going to be a never-ending love affair. No matter if you’re solo or coupled up, Japan will always keep you entertained and mesmerised.
The land of impeccable manners, ingenious inventions and gastronomical delights beckon globetrotters around the world to return time after time – very possibly to gaze again at the cityscape from a favourite vantage point. And what satisfaction! Under the night skies, you’ll feel like the luckiest person alive, yet also utterly insignificant, compared to the dazzling metropolis laid out beneath.
Here are three cities in Japan that know how to put on a show when the night falls.
Offering possibly the most spectacular night views in Japan, Nagasaki’s Mount Inasa (Inasa-yama), is a mountain with a height of 333 meters above sea level, and a popular landmark. It is also a mountain-top recreation park, featuring a glass observatory dome, gift shop, restaurants, hiking trails and public amenities.
The glass observatory dome at the top of Mount Inasa offers a 360-degree view of the city surrounded by the mountains and the sea.
Take the 5-minute ropeway ride to the summit in the evening and watch Nagasaki bay transformed into a shimmering ocean of lights.
Try to get there before the sunset, as there is usually a long queue. The ropeway ride departs every 15 to 20 minutes.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can trek up the mountain via the hiking trails.
Public Transport (Bus) from JR Nagasaki station:
Nagasaki Bus 3 or 4 (bound for Shimohashi) approximately 7 minutes journey and alight at Nagasaki Ropeway Bus Stop. Walk to the Fuchi Shrine Station to take the ropeway ride.
Nagasaki Ropeway Ride Tickets (Fuchi Shrine Station to Inasa Dake Station)
- Return ticket: 1,230 yen (adult)
- One-way ticket: 720 yen (adult)
Operating Hours: 09:00 – 22:00
*Operating hours may change subject to weather or other conditions.
Parking is available at the summit of Mount Inasa (100 yen).
The car ride from Nagasaki Station takes roughly 15 minutes, while a taxi ride costs around 2,000 yen one way.
Before you embark on a trip to Mt Inasa, check the weather forecast to avoid disappointment. On a fine day, the outdoor observatory gets crowded despite the inhospitable wind, so do bring along a jacket to keep warm.
When in Tokyo, you’d be spoilt for choices on where to catch the sunset and witness its magnificent night views and of course, the classic Mt. Fuji. If you follow the crowds, you’re apt to end up at Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and Sky Circus Sunshine 60 Observatory.
These are popular choices for shutterbugs, but for truly spectacular shots that encompass more landmarks – including Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, and the Ferris Wheel amidst the urban sprawl – we recommend these three vantage points in Southern Tokyo.
Telecom Observatory Tower
Tokyo Bay is a futuristic, man-made island and Odaiba is the shopping and entertainment district of said island. The Odaiba’s Rainbow Bridge and the Ferris Wheel are the two iconic structures which make up the Tokyo Bay’s skyline.
The Telecom Center in Odaiba houses an observatory at the 21st floor. Treat yourself to a glittering view of the skyline at Telecom Center Observatory in the evening. You can see Odaiba’s Rainbow Bridge and Ferris Wheel, as well as the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, all set to a backdrop of the glittering lights of Tokyo city.
• The nearest station to Telecom Center Observatory is Telecom Center Station on the Yurikamome Line from Shimbashi Station (17 minutes).
• If you’re visiting Odaiba, take Rinkai Line and alight at Tokyo Teleport Station followed by a 10-minute walk to the Telecom Center Observatory.
15:00 to 21:00 (weekdays)
11:00 to 21:00 (weekends and national holidays)
Closed: Mondays (following day if Monday is a holiday)
Admission fee: 500 yen
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
Roppongi is a vibrant neighbourhood peppered with affluent mixed-use developments such as luxury hotels, offices, art galleries and restaurants. The locals call it “a city within a city’’ and it’s the go-to district if you’re looking to party all night. It has since undergone a cultural renaissance to become Tokyo’s art and design hub with some of the world’s finest museums and art centres.
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower is a mixed-use skyscraper featuring Mori Art Museum and Tokyo City View Observatory from the 52nd floor onwards. If you think the view from the Tokyo Skytree is nice, try going to Tokyo City View and Sky Deck Observatory in the evening, and it is times ten.
There are two observation decks within Roppongi Hills Mori Tower namely the Tokyo City View (Indoor) and the Rooftop Sky Deck (Outdoor).
Tokyo City View is the indoor observatory deck which sits on the 52nd floor, and there is a newly furbished all-day dining lounge ‘The Moon’, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows on the same level. A perfect place to enjoy exotic cocktails and escape from the hubbub down below, as the city turns into a dreamy scene of sparkling lights. After a toast to your vacation, head up to the Rooftop Sky Deck for a 360-degree heart-stopping view of the megacity.
We recommend getting the tickets to Mori Art Museum and spend the day admiring some of the finest contemporary art exhibitions in Asia before heading to the Tokyo City View Observatory Deck to catch the sunset.
- From Tokyo Station, take Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki, and transfer to Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line for Roppongi.
- If you’re coming from Shinjuku Station, get on Toei Oedo Line (9 minutes) and alight at Roppongi Station.
Tokyo City View Indoor Observation Deck:
10:00 to 23:00 (weekdays and national holidays)
Last Admission at 22:30
10:00 to 01:00 (Fridays, Saturdays, Eve of Holidays)
Last Admission at 24:00
Admission fee: 1800 yen (adult) *Ticket is valid for Mori Art Museum
Rooftop Sky Deck:
11:00 to 20:00 (Monday to Sunday)
Last Admission at 19:30
Admission fee: 500 yen (adult)
*Ticket holders of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo City View, or Mori Arts Center Gallery may enter the Sky Deck with additional fee.
Access to the Rooftop Sky Deck is subject to inclement weather. It is imperative that you check the weather forecast to avoid disappointment. Do bring along a jacket as it gets chilly at the rooftop sky deck after sunset.
Park Tokyo Hotel
For holidaymakers looking for a hotel with a splendid view, try the 4-star Park Tokyo Hotel – and you won’t be disappointed. Savour a postcard-perfect vista of Tokyo Skyline right in the comfort and privacy of your room. The view is unforgettable, especially at night, when the iconic Tokyo Tower comes on –and you find yourself hypnotized by tiny vehicles rushing along tangled lines of streets creating twisting threads of light like fleeting fireworks. In the morning, you’ll wake up to a sunlit metropolis with Mount Fuji on the horizon.
- The nearest station to Park Hotel Tokyo is Shimbashi Station (JR Yamanote Line).
- If you’re coming from Narita Airport Station, take the Sky Liner to Nippori Station then change to JR Yamanote Line and alight at Shimbashi Station. From there it is a 7-minute walk to Park Hotel Tokyo.
Park Hotel Tokyo is co-located in Shiodome Media Tower, the center of business and culture. The hotel lobby is at the 25th floor of Shiodome Media Tower. There are 270 guest rooms, located from the 26th to 34th floors.
It is not apocryphal when every traveller you meet on the road sing praises of Hakodate’s panoramic vistas from Mount Hakodate (Hakodate-yama). Ranked as the number one must-do when in Hakodate City, Mount Hakodate is a mountain with a height of 334meters above sea level, renowned for its breath-taking views of the port city from its open-air observatory deck.
The world-famous ‘Million Dollar View’ under the inky black sky is an incredible sight to behold. After dusk, the peninsula turns into a map of glittering constellations that will leave you in awe, emerging with a new perspective and a deep sense of gratitude (#blessed).
Take the 3-minute ropeway ride to the summit before sunset. The ropeway ride departs every 15 to 20 minutes. If you love to dine with a view, head to Restaurant Genova. Try to get a table by the windows for the best experience.
And here’s a tip from the locals: there are three katakana letters “ハート” which form the Japanese word for ”Heart” that surfaces on the illuminated skyline. See if you can spot them! Legend has it that couples who have seen them will have their wishes granted.
Public Transport (Bus) from JR Hakodate station:
Go to Bus Stop No. 4. Look for the shuttle bus. It is a one-way journey (approximately 10 minutes) to Hakodate Ropeway station.
Hakodateyama Ropeway Ride Tickets
- Return ticket: 1280 yen (adult)
- One-way ticket: 780 yen (adult)
Operating Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
*Operating hours may change subject to weather or other conditions.
Limited Parking Space at the observatory deck.
The car ride from Hakodate Station takes roughly 20 minutes, while a taxi ride costs around 3,500 yen one way.
Before you embark on a trip to Mount Hakodate, check the weather forecast to avoid disappointment. The open-air observatory can get chilly, so bringing along a jacket is a good idea.
The window seats in Restaurant Genova are usually reserved in advance, so be sure to call ahead for a table at least a week before your trip.
Finally, travel can make and maintain a sense of wonder that drives everything in a better direction. Now, what are you waiting for?