When you feel like you want to call a timeout on Tokyo’s intense urban environment, a quick natural antidote may be closer at hand than you think. Forget that distant patch of park with a plastic slide and hobo-proof benches, head to these Tokyo rooftops instead!
Built on the site of the old Matsuzakaya Department Store in Ginza, Ginza 6 is Tokyo’s latest grand temple to hyper-consumerism. Even the Starbucks inside is one of those Starbucks Reserve places (which to me is like putting a speed stripe on a donkey and calling it a race horse). So despite ‘luxury this’ and ‘premium that’, Ginza 6 has a huge rooftop space with ample seating and impressive views that is free to all (Tokyo Tower, anyone?). There is a champagne cafe as you exit the elevator, but you could easily bring your own bottle of bubbly and decadently sip away right next to the poor souls paying ¥1,800 per glass.
The rooftop of the NEWoMan shopping center above the recently opened Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal has awesome views and a lush green parklet. Sadly, you can’t roam around in it—just stand next to it and soak up those negative ions. Even though you can’t spread out your picnic blanket here, there is a terrace with seating open to the public right next to it which is a nice spot to get away from the Shinjuku hubbub.
Seibu Ikebukuro Rooftop
Until a few years ago, the rooftop of Seibu’s Ikebukuro department store was a desolate place filled with metal beer garden furniture and air conditioning units. A redesign in 2015 transformed it into a resort-like space with grass lawns, decks, trees, stylish garden furniture and a pond surrounded with a counter. While there are stores in the warmer months with reasonably priced pizza, french fries and other pub food, you can also grab a bento from the basement supermarket. Seibu Ikebukuro can be a real rabbit warren and a simple task like getting to the roof can be more complex than you might imagine. Our advice is to access the garden from the top floor of Ikebukuro Loft
Meguro Sky Garden
Featured in our Best Tokyo Sunsets article, Meguro Sky Garden is an undulating, terraced river of green located in an unlikely spot on top of a freeway traffic interchange. Despite the name, it’s not actually very close to Meguro Station, but is right next to Ikejiri Ohashi Station. It’s also an easy 15-minute walk from Shibuya Station.
Famed for it’s trippy kaleidoscope entrance on the corner of Omotesando and Meiji Dori, the rooftop of the Tokyu Plaza building is also a marvel of modern urban design. Bring your own food and drink or grab something from the neighboring Starbucks and relax on the wooden decking or on one of the loungers sprinkled around the space.
Atré Meguro Rooftop Garden
The garden on top of Atré Meguro (connected to JR Meguro Station) predates all the other spots on this list and is by far the most low key. Taking the escalator to the 5th floor and then the stairs to the roof, it’s like teleporting into a suburban backyard. A patch of grass, tables and vegetable planters make this a lovely spot to enjoy a bento.
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno:
Recommended hotels located nearby
Gotanda, from ¥7,100
Meguro, from ¥27,780
Shirokane, from ¥5,200
Gotanda, from ¥7,260