Laura Welch

Tokyo's Highrise Secret: Seiyo Food

A meal on high at low prices!

Laura Welch
Laura Welch   - 3 min read

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

Do you know the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku? It's distinctive and hard to miss, and it gives a great view of the city for free. It's also easily accessed via the Tochomae stop on the Toei Oedo subway line.

Well, you can take advantage of that very same building to enjoy a meal with a view at the cafeteria. It's primarily run for the workers, but it's open to the public. Many locals don't even know about it, and if you get there early, it's not even particularly crowded.

Probably the trickiest part of your visit will be the first part. As with many buildings in Japan with a multitude of floors, the elevators are split into sections to avoid frustrating, endless waits. You need to find the right elevator to take you to the 32nd floor (I ended up in elevator H).

Once you've made it up there, head in the direction that leads you towards the center of the building, and you'll find the cafeteria. All of the (numerous) options are displayed in physical form, so you know exactly what you'll be getting. Each one is labeled with a name, a number, the price and how many calories it contains. Make a note of the number, because it will make your life infinitely easier when you go to the vending machines.

The vending machines provide a quick way to pay so that you aren't juggling money and food at the same time. Put your money in, press the button with your number on, and you'll receive a ticket. The ticket will tell you which counter to go to (most counters are labeled with a letter, e.g. A). Hand in your ticket at the counter, take your food (ready in a flash) and put it on a tray. Don't forget your cutlery!

Before you grab your seat-with-a-view, help yourself to a drink from the numerous dispensers - there's water and types of tea at a seasonal temperature. There's also slight air conditioning (not too much because there's still an effort being made to conserve energy), so you can enjoy your meal in comfort.

My meal was the Japanese-style meal of the day: chicken covered in sauce with a side of pasta salad, rice, miso soup and vegetables in soy sauce. It was a satisfying meal, in terms of both portion and price. Don't expect refined cuisine – this is for hungry workers. For everyone else, sacrificing a pinch of quality for the experience, for the view, is completely worth it.

Eating 32 floors up at this price in Shinjuku is almost impossible. But here, there's not only that, but also a great range of satisfying food.

Laura Welch

Laura Welch @laura.welch

One of my favourite things about Japan is the wonderful variety of food, and I love to share what I find. When I'm not eating, you might find me singing karaoke or walking around hoping to make new discoveries!