Like the current pancake craze in Tokyo at the moment, Japan is crazy for donuts. There are so many cool donuts in Japan it’s hard to know where to start.
The real donut crazes hit around Halloween + Christmas – 2 major holdays in Japan. Halloween especially is huge. Spring is also a big donut time in Japan – mostly with all kinds of Sakura donuts everywhere.
Jack In The Donuts: Just outside Yodobashi Akihabara is a small donut shop called Jack In The Donuts. You can watch workers prepare donuts live + they have a great variety of donuts including matcha donuts. The shop is hidden in a small shopping tunnel just on the south side of Yodobashi Camera. Well worth a stop.
Tokyo Sky Tree is a massive 635m tall multiuse tower in Tokyo’s eastern town of Oshiagé (pronounced Oh-she-a-geh). We highly recommend it. The tower was completed in 2012 to serve as a new terrestrial TV + radio broadcast tower because Tokyo had expanded so much that the old tower used for that purpose – Tokyo Tower – could no longer reach the outskirts of the city.
Sky Tree includes a 635m tall steel-truss/core tower, a side multiuse shopping/restaurant complex called Solamachi, and an office tower. There are also two observation decks, an indoor circular walkway, a restaurant level on floors 30-31, and a flat surface on the very top for helicopters/emergencies, and maintenance.
In the multiuse complex there is a giant food/gift floor, shops, lots of restaurants, and a postal museum and Sumida Aquarium. The ground floor has two food courts with eateries + gift shops.
Just to the left of the aquarium are a row of shops + restaurants including a Cold Stone Creamery.
There is also a large car parking garage + a bicycle parking garage in the complex (see below).
2 train lines service the complex: The Metro Subway Hanzomon Line and the TOBU Sky Tree Line. The Hanzomon line is more direct + stops at more important stops than the TOBU line.
The complex is huge and is ringed by sidewalks. Its official civic name is Sumida Oshinari-koen Park (this is actually a bit redundant because koen means “park” in Japanese). Sumida is the large river which runs North-South to the west through the middle of Tokyo. You can easily walk from to Sky Tree to Asakusa near the Sumida River. The Yokojiken River also runs near Sky Tree – north to south.
You want to try to avoid weekends @ Sky Treebecause the place is a mob scene of 1000’s of screaming kids everywhere. Lines for the observation deck tickets can be quite long on weekends – even into the 1000’s of people. So you shoud plan your Sky Tree trip on a weekday. 2-3 nights will be more than enough – you should be able to see everything in + around Sky Tree in 2 full days.
Head up out of the Oshiagé/SKYTREE station to the TOKYO SKYTREE TOWN mezzanine, then hang a left here to get to the escalators up to the lobby.There are lots of stores and vending machines here.There is also a huge map. Note the color-coded Metro exit sign in yellow.
There’s also a mini-Lawson inside the station.
The massive escalators from the station mezzanine area up to the Solamachi Bldg. lobby. A Family Mart conbini is straight ahead.Also note the small bank of coin lockers just to the right – you can stash your stuff there for a few ¥ – if you can find one that is not in use.There is another larger bank of coin lockers on the outdoor roof patio of the Solamachi Bldg.
Also nearby on the Hanzomon Metro Subway Line is Sumiyoshi. There is also another train line called the TOBU Line which has its own station on the other side of the complex to the northwest – The TOBU Tokyo Sky Tree Station. Either line works fine, but the Hanzomon Line is generally quicker + more direct.
The TOBU Tokyo Sky Tree Station.
There is also an airport shuttle from Sky Tree – but only to Haneda airport, and not to Narita.
Sky Tree sits in the middle of the small town ofOshiagé east of the Sumida River. To the west are Asakusa, and over the river, Ueno. In fact, you can walk to Ueno easily from Sky Tree by heading west on Rt. 453 (Asakusa Dori). Total distance is only about 2 miles.
The complex is a long rectangular shape running from west to east. On the east side is a street-level Metro exit, a Life Supermarket + mixed-use complex across the street, restaurants, a small post office to the south east, and various stores and residences along side streets. The intersection of Asakusa-Dori + Yotsumé-Dori marks the southeast corner. Just to the west of this intersection is a large Mr. Donut shop. The Solamachi Bldg. is at the southeast end of the complex with its entrance on the same side.
The intersection of Asakusa-Dori + Yotsumé-Dori – where there’s a large Mr. Donut shop.
Also across from the Life Supermarket complex is another surface Metro entrance/exit, as well as a bus/taxi stop. There is a public Sumida City sightseeing bus which stops here. You can board it for free + take a quick tour around the city.
Just across the street on the other (east) side of the Solamachi complex is a small elevated walkway where you can get a great view of Sky Tree and the trains. It’s popular with families to take their kids.
Enter on the stairs at the left in this photo for the walkway and elevated viewing area. Sky Tree/Solamachi is just to the left, out of frame.
Southeast corner of the Solamachi Bldg. at night.Entrance is just around the left:
This entrance leads to one of the food/gift courts. The info desk is at the far end.
If the Richmond Hotel is a bit out of your price range, head one more block east, then turn northeast (left) down Rt. 465. 2 blocks up the street on the right is the excellent ONE @ Tokyo Hotel. We highly recommend it.
As you turn left here, you’ll also see a great MOS Burger – also worth checking out. MOS Burger prides itself on natural ingredients, and their sandwiches are incredibly cheap – 280¥ (about $3 US) for a burger with trimmings and sauce. Can’t go wrong. Just across the street from the MOS Burger is a Family Mart.
As you turn left up Rt. 465, you’ll be in one of 2 main parts of the town – the other part is on Rt. 453 heading west towards Sumida. You can get a feel for small-town life in Tokyo here. There’s a Star Dust Pachinko parlor here (if you can stand the smoke-filled room), and lots of other little diversions. There’s also a great natural supermarket just up on the left past the pachinko parlor called AEON. Very inexpensive and fresh. If you stay at the ONE @ Tokyo Hotel, it’s a lifesaver. Just beyong that is a big 2-story noodle house worth checking out. See our review of ONE @ Tokyo Hotel.
If you make a right on the side street directly across from the pachinko parlor, a few blocks down you’ll find a small clean coin laundry where you can wash clothes if you need to. They also sell small boxes of laundry detergent. Turn down this side street and it’s up on your right a few blocks:
Sky Tree itself is attached to the Solamachi Bldg. on the west (left) side. To purchase tickets, take the escalators up to the 4th floor. But be ready: the ticket lines can be insanely long on busy days – especially on weekends. Tickets to the observatories run around $34 per adult. You may have to stand in line for hours to wait to purchase. There’s a huge mezzanine on the 4th floor where a crowd lines up for tickets.
Just inside the Solamachi entrance. The entrance to the food/gift hallway is through the door to the left.
Solamachi 4th floor ticket floor. There is also an express ticket counter up the escalator, but it costs more. This is also the entrance to Sky Restaurant 634.On busy days this floor is packed with people.
At the Tokyo Solamachi Bldg. there’s more to do: 2 long food court hallways, an aquarium, an info desk, a rooftop terrace outside Sky Tree itself, coffee shops, and various other attractions – and tickets to the Sky Tree‘s 2 spectacular observatories (floors 350 + 450). Cost for the observatories is around $50 per adult as of 2019. Be sure to check out the glass floor in the 1st observatory – for a dizzying view of the ground 340 floors below.
Tembo Deck is on floor 340 and houses both the glass floor and the Sky Tree Cafe´– both must-sees. There’s also a photo service on this floor. Tembo Deck also contains the Official Sky Tree Shop. There is also another official Sky Tree Shop on the ground floor on the south side of the complex.
Floor 450 is called Tembo Galleria. It has an enclosed glass walkway (Tembo Shuttle) which slowly arches upwards to floor 454 (Sorakara Point). Floor 454 is the highest user-accessible floor in the tower.From this height, you can see the curvature of the earth out the windows.
Restaurants+ Food Palaces+ Shops
There are also lots of restaurants on floors 340-350 including the Sky Tree Cafe. You can have a nice meal 1/4 mile up in the sky + take in the breathtaking view as you eat. There are more restaurants on floors 30-31 of the Solamachi tower part of the complex.
There are 3 food “palaces” @ Sky Tree, and boy, do the Japanese love their food palaces. One wonders how they can eat so much and stay thin, but once you walk around Tokyo all day, every day, you’ll find yourself losing weight too. It’s not uncommon in Tokyo to see 90 lb 5’4″ women wolfing down 12-stack high plates of pancakes or giant ice cream sundaes.
The first food palace is a hallway which cuts through the center of the Solamachi Bldg. Both sides are lined with crepé shops, gift shops, ice cream, burger places, and other various food. You can stuff yourself silly if you’re not careful.
The second is a huge floor on the upper floors called Food Marché, which is like an entire mall unto itself. There’s an unbelievable amount of variety here – both restaurants + gift shops. And a large grocery store. There’s even a western Krispy Kreme donuts here. And some higher end stores such as Godiva.
A massive food shop @ one end of the food mall floor.
The “food madness” level – get ready to walk – and to eat.
There is another small food court on the patio roof (East Yard) just before the entrance to the Sumida Aquarium. On the way up the escalator to this level is another smaller food level with various restaurants at one end which leads into the massive mall-like food court. You can spend several hours on this level looking at everything.
At one end of the large food level is Nana’s Green Tea – a must-visit. The first one in America also just opened in Seattle, WA. At Nana’s Green Tea you can feast on a matcha green tea sunday like this one for around $7:
Forget Paris or Italy – Tokyo is the food capital of the world.But then again, you’re probably going to walk this off because you’re going to be walking 15 miles/day when you’re there. There is also a NGT in Tokyo Dome City:
NGT‘s OTT menus.
As shown above, under the initial escalators into the complex, there is a small coin locker bank. On the patio roof (“East Yard”) of the Solamachi Bldg. there is a much larger bank of lockers. It usually has open lockers except on the busiest days. There are also various banks of coin lockers around the town itself hidden down side streets. Some of them are as cheap as 200¥ (about $2) for 8 hours of use. To use them, open one of the locker’s doors, insert your belongings, close the door, insert the coins indicated on the locker, then turn and remove the key. Don’t lose the key or your stuff will be trapped in the locker. You must retrieve your items before the limit is up (usually 8 hours).
On the 5th + 6th floors of the rooftop patio (East Yard) in Solamachi is the Sumida Aquarium. Buy tickets in the lobby, and then head up the elevators or escalators to the roof and turn left once out in the open for the entrance. A big hit with kids.
East Yard patio roof. Sumida Aquarium is in the opposite direction – as is one of the small food courts. The coin locker bank is just up ahead on the right.You don’t really get the scale of Sky Tree until you start to aproach it close to its base. Those large struts at the base are about 25′ in diameter.
East Yard patio roof. From here you can begin to get a sense of Sky Tree’s scale.
On the southwest side of the complex is the West Bicycle Parking lot. It’s expensive – about $20/8 hours. And it has a metal shutter that closes late at night, so if you don’t have your bike out by then it will be trapped overnight. To get to the bike garage, head south along the sidewalk, then right past the Solamachi entrance and head west. You’ll pass the car parking garage, cross a street in the middle, and then see it on the right:
Roll your bike into a stand until it clicks – that’s it. You pay when you take it out, not when you lock it. When it comes time to take it out, head to this machine near the entrance, and enter the rack #. It will display the amount you need to pay. Insert your ¥ and the machine will unlock the bike rack – and your bike will be free:
Inside the bike parking garage.
Also – if you stay at the ONE@Tokyo hotel up the street they have a very small, free outdoor bike locker at the hotel (on the north side). There’s only room for about 6 bikes, but it’s easy and free – just roll your bike onto the rack. You may want to buy a small combination wire lock to lock it there.
The Japanee word for coffee is coheé. If you come out of the bike garage + head right (west) again, on the next corner you’ll find the Unlimited Coffee Bar+ Barista Training Lab Tokyo. Both are excellent. Japanese love coheé too and there are plenty of great cafes all over the city. This one is definitely worth checking out.
There is also an excellent Hoshino’s Coffee in Sky Tree. They also have some pretty wild pancakes. There is another café on the south side of the complex called The Alley which is is very good:
Also along the south side is a somewhat more ice-cream oriented place called Dog Dept. Cafe:
Sagawa Baggage Service
On the south side near the bike parking there is also a Sagawa Baggage Service. This place will store + ship your luggage for a mere $5-$7/bag, usually in 24 hours to most places in Tokyo including the airports. You can drop your bags here, then pick them up at the airport and check them in – no need to carry them with you. The staff is really sharp and it’s easy to do – just fill out a small form and provide your phone number. You can also do the reverse – ship your bags from the airport right to your hotel. There is also a Sagawa office @ Narita airport and @ Tokyo Station. All of them are excellent.
Along the entire south side of the complex is a nice river walk with sidewalks. You can stroll up and down the area and watch the river. A nice little walk. The bike parking garage is at the far end in this photo:
Yokojiken River Walk+ Backstreets
Once you’ve had your fill of Sky Tree/Solamachi, you might want to venture off the beaten path for a while to see a little more of local small-town Tokyo. The roads up + down the Yokojiken River are perfect for that. You can wander down lots of Oshiagé’s backstreets and discover some interesting things. It’s also a great way to get some awesome views of Sky Tree you can’t get any other way.
There’s a small branch of the Yokojiken River that runs south/southeast through the town and a long jogging path that follows it. You can walk for miles down this path and get some great views of Sky Tree.
Hiding on the backstreets… in this case near the Yokojiken River.
View along the Yokojiken River about 5 miles from Sky Tree.
Sometimes when walking around, a simple street scene will strike you so perfectly, you just have to snap a photo. These chances usually appear out of nowhere. This is why backstreet strolls are so worth it.
The Japanese are kings of weird + funny restaurant names.
Well, that’s it. We hope you enjoyed this guide to Sky Tree and we hope you enjoy your trip there. Sky Tree is one of Tokyo’s most exciting and memorable destinations. It’s a must-see on any trip to Japan. Enjoy!
In the event you find any of the hotels mentioned out of your budget, hop back west a few stops on the Hanzomon Line to Suitengumae – and stay at First Cabin Suitengumae. It’s about $42/night and it’s very clean. The staff is helpful and speaks English, Japanese, and other languages, and they have a free breakfast + a small lobby lounge. It’s off the beaten path back in a side neighborhood near the Sumida River, but it’s excellent for the price. Walk is only a few minutes to the Metro so you can shoot into Sky Tree in under 20 minutes (see vid below).
Stepping out of the First Cabin you face Etai-Dori, straight ahead. This photo is facing south. Proceed south 2-3 blocks, then turn right and Suitengumae Station + T-CAT are just a few blocks down on the right.
Q + A
Can you buy Sky Tree tickets online?
Answer: Yes and no – not from Sky Tree itself., but several sites sell them, such as Klook and others.
How is Sky Tree earthquake proof?
Answer: Its lattice system allows great flexibility and the ability to twist. It also allows wind loading forces to pass through the structure instead of putting stress on the sides. Sky Tree also uses a large counterweight at the top which offsets the forces of any swaying due to earthquakes. This design was copied from ancient wooden pagodas which used the same design – and are still standing today after centuries.
How tall is Sky Tree?
Answer: 635 meters or about 2083.33 feet – close to half a mile.
How do I get to Sky Tree?
Answer: See our section on trains above. You can also walk or bicycle to Sky Tree from many parts of Tokyo.