Tourist spots to reopen with social distancing measures around Tokyo

ByJason Gatewood
May 28, 2020

Tourist spots to reopen with social distancing measures around Tokyo

With the last of Japan’s COVID-19 State of Emergency measures lifted May 26, many of Tokyo’s tourist attractions, shopping centers, and amusement districts are starting to spring back to life, but what you will find upon closer inspection will be very different from a few months ago for the time being. For starters, there is a Three-Stage Plan announced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. As such, reopening will not happen overnight in the capital, especially places like nightclubs, karaoke boxes, and gyms. But certain “low risk” zones have begun to come out of lockdown; some museums, parks, and libraries for example, but you’ll want to check their individual websites first; when and how they open up shop is entirely at their discretion.

Restaurants can remain open until 10pm, extended by 2 hours. Capacity, however, initially will be capped by 65 to 80% depending on the floor space available. That means a restaurant normally seating 100 may only allow 20 to 45 guests at a time.

Tokyo Tower is our barometer

I tend to gauge what’s happening with the Tokyo tourism market by checking out a few of the “Big Daddy” attractions — the ones that people near and far would know at first glance “that’s Tokyo alright.” Tokyo Tower is definitely in this category, and its sheer longevity (built 62 years ago!) usually means it can be a reliable barometer, and as such can give a window into what our “new normal” will look like.

They will reopen May 28 under shortened hours and special precautions as follows through mid-June:
Main Deck (150m)

They have made climbing the outdoor stairway (which was previously only used for maintenance and for emergencies) into part of the tour, touting “Even a preschooler can make the climb in about 15 minutes.” The stairway itself was open for those needing the exercise throughout the State of Emergency, by the way. Those making the ascension of all 600 steps will receive a commemorative one-of-a-kind certificate, which is actually a good keepsake of the times we’re living in, no? Oh, and you’ll be making your way back downstairs via the elevators.

9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (last entry at 07:30 p.m.)

Closed during foul weather conditions

Top Deck (250m)

Access via the “Special Elevator Tour” which must be booked in person on the day of admission for ¥8000 per group of up to 4 people. There will be no binocular or multilingual guide machine rentals, and time slots must be strictly adhered to.

9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (last tickets issued at 8:15 p.m.)

Official Shops

• Ground Building 3F “GALAXY”: 09:00 a.m. – 08:30 p.m.

• Main Deck 2F “THE SKY”: Temporarily closed

What about other spots?

The taller, newer, and sleeker Skytree situated across town in Sumida Ward is still closed, and hasn’t yet announced a reopening date as of this writing. Shibuya Sky, The brand new observation deck on the rooftop of the Shibuya Scramble building is also closed without any reopening plans so far. The happiest place in Tokyo, Disneyland/DisneySea, is also still evaluating plans to reopen.

All of this is, as stated before, new territory for all of us. Our advice is to take things slow, make sure you have your masks and sanitizer and plan accordingly.

Tokyo Night Skyline by Jason L Gatewood
Koinobori 20170428” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by hatake_s
Tokyo Tower Stairwell via Tokyo Tower Ltd

About the author

Jason Gatewood subscriber

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at ·