Sky High

Sky High

Originally published on on May 2009 It’s easy to see why rooftops are all the rage in Tokyo. In a city where space is at a constant premium, sticking a few aerials and an air-conditioning unit on the top of a building just won’t cut it. Look towards the heavens here and you’ll find […]


Originally published on on May 2009

The Tokyo City View "Sky Deck" atop Mori Tower offers a 360-degree panorama

The Tokyo City View "Sky Deck" atop Mori Tower offers a 360-degree panorama

It’s easy to see why rooftops are all the rage in Tokyo. In a city where space is at a constant premium, sticking a few aerials and an air-conditioning unit on the top of a building just won’t cut it. Look towards the heavens here and you’ll find everything from gardens (beer or otherwise) to sports grounds. With cool breezes helping to ease the summer heat, getting high in the sky has never been more appealing. So whether you want a bit of meditation, a few drinks with friends, or a chance to exercise your green thumb, here are some ideas for hitting the roof in style this summer.

department stores

Tamagawa Takashimaya S. C.

Courtesy of Tamagawa Takashimaya S.C.

Courtesy of Tamagawa Takashimaya S.C.

The bustling shopping hub of Futako-Tamagawa has so much happening on the ground that many visitors don’t bother to look up. But next time you’re in Niko-Tama, head on over to the Tamagawa Takashimaya Shopping Center, where the “Forest Garden” on top of the main building boasts fruit trees, a herb garden, a waterfall and a sculpture garden. Then cross the bridge over to the South Building to enjoy a modern, wa-inspired relaxation space with bamboo, moss and lots of leafy green.
3-17-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3709-2222. Main Bldg open daily 10am-8pm, South Bldg 10am-9pm. Nearest stn: Futako-Tamagawa.

Marui Honkan

Courtesy of Marui Group

Courtesy of Marui Group

Billed as the “city’s largest rooftop garden,” Q-Court opened on April 24 atop the trendy Marui Honkan, a new depato near the east exit of Shinjuku station. The English-style garden, filled with greenery and seasonal flowers, includes an arch festooned with roses and grape leaves, banana-shaped benches, and a cascading wall of water that gurgles soothingly. The project came about after a survey of Marui customers revealed that they needed time (and space) to forget about their hectic, shopping-filled lives.
3-30-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3354-0101. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm; Sun & hols 11am-8:30pm. Nearest stn: Shinjuku.

And keep in mind…

Also worth a trip is the spacious Taiyou no Hiroba atop the Sogo department store’s Yokohama branch (; open daily 10am-7pm). In addition to lush greenery and a view of the ocean, this rooftop retreat also boasts a sculpture by renowned artist Taro Okamoto. If you’re looking for one of the highest-altitude shrines in the city, pay a visit to Mitsui Jinja, located on the rooftop of the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi store (; open daily 10am-7pm). There’s also a bonsai garden, greenhouses and an outdoor stage.

beer garden

Kudan Kaikan

The site of Metropolis’ annual office summer party, Kudan Kaikan is everything a rooftop beer garden should be: vast, raucous and staffed with dedicated servers who make sure the pitchers keep flowing. Situated in the shadow of the renowned Budokan concert hall, the fourth-floor space features a view of Chiyoda-ku’s abundant greenery, and is just high enough to catch cooling breezes after sunset. If you go, don’t expect gourmet fare—the beer is strictly mass-produced Kirin, and most of the food is fried. But for full-on Japanese-style summertime partying, Kudan Kaikan can’t be beat. Note the early closing times.
Open May-Sep. Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30-10pm (LO 9:15pm), Sun & hols 5-9pm. 1-6-5 Kudanshita, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3261-5521. Nearest stn: Kudanshita, exit 4.



Billed as a “resort restaurant,” Aoyama’s Casita is a surefire date spot—and a favorite hangout of Tokyo celebrities. Though you might find it difficult to tear yourself away from the spacious, moodily lit interior, Casita’s rooftop deck and terrace are worth it. The outdoor space is open year-round—heated during winter—with an array of secluded tables shaded by greenery. During summer and fall, the chefs fire up the barbeque grill, adding knee-weakening smells to the seductive view. If you visit Casita, bring your wallet—course menus start at ¥8,400, and all à la carte main dishes are over ¥3,000. If you’re on a budget, kick back with some wine by the glass, on offer from just ¥1,000.
La Porte Aoyama 3F, 5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5485-7353. Open daily 5pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Omotesando, exit B2.

sports field

Adidas Futsal Square

Courtesy of Adidas Futsal Park Shibuya

Courtesy of Adidas Futsal Park Shibuya

They put some funny things on the rooftops in Tokyo, but for sheer incongruity, the Adidas Futsal Park in Shibuya takes some beating. As shoppers flood the scramble crossing next to the station’s Hachiko exit, few realize that there are teams of people booting a soccer ball around on top of one of the adjacent department stores. It’s a genius bit of urban planning, best appreciated from the top floor of Mark City (though you’ll have to sneak past some overzealous reception staff to get a decent look at it). So “Only in Japan,” it was even immortalized in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. OK, maybe that’s not the best recommendation.
Tokyu Toyoko Department Store, 2-24-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. For booking information, call 03-5728-5599 (Japanese only) or see

observation deck

Tokyo City View “Sky Deck”

Tokyo City View “Sky Deck” Roppongi Hills observation deck

Tokyo City View “Sky Deck” Roppongi Hills observation deck

Since opening in 2003, Roppongi Hills’ Mori Tower has had the “best view in Tokyo” market cornered. The fact that its observatory comes twinned with one of the city’s top art galleries just makes it all the sweeter. So we can only applaud whoever decided last year to take things up a notch and open the building’s helipad to the public. 270 meters above sea level, the Sky Deck is the highest outdoor observatory in the whole of Japan—and the panorama, unsurprisingly, is awesome.
¥1,800 (includes entry to Tokyo City View and Mori Art Museum). Open daily 10am-1am (last entry midnight). May be closed without prior notice due to bad weather or strong winds.

party space


Courtesy of Tamagawa Takashimaya S.C.

An elegant al fresco party with friends, gourmet food and world-class wines? That sounds like the recipe for a perfect summer evening. At Amandine, groups of up to 50 can enjoy a get-together under the stars in one of Tokyo’s most appealing neighborhoods. The terrace sits atop Ebisu’s Elegante Vita Nacora complex, which includes a kitchen studio, café, Californian restaurant and banquet hall. If you can’t scare up enough friends to rent out the space, stop by on May 27 for the “Food & Wine Pairing Vol. 2,” which offers three hours of all-you-can-eat food and wine (women ¥4,500/men ¥5,500).
2-10-10 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5728-4556. Nearest stn: Ebisu or Daikanyama.

vegetable gardens

Ebisu Green Garden

Opened on April 29, Ebisu Green Garden occupies a prime spot atop the Atre shopping and dining complex in Ebisu station. It’s the 23rd—and, at 2,100m2, the most spacious—of JR East’s efforts to create green recreational space on city rooftops. The garden includes the 161m2 “Sorado Farm,” which lets customers rent out plots to harvest their own vegetables and fruits. Prices TBA.
1-5-5 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5475-8500. Open daily 10am-7pm (till 5pm from Nov to Mar; closed on rainy days). Nearest stn: Ebisu.

Agris Seijo

With room being so limited in Tokyo, few city dwellers have a garden of their own. But Agris Seijo makes it possible to practice your green thumb thanks to the garden space it has constructed above train tracks in residential Setagaya-ku. Participants pay an ¥11,000 monthly membership fee that allows them a 6m2 plot of land and all necessary equipment and fertilizer; there’s even a clubhouse where they can hang out with likeminded gardeners.
5-1-1 Seijo, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3482-0831. Open daily 9am-6pm (summer 8am-7pm; winter 9am-5pm), closed first Monday of each month. Nearest stn: Seijo Gakuenmae (Odakyu line). www.agris-seijo.jpp

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