Cruisin’ Neo-Tokyo on the Hato Bus Night TourActivity
One of the best ways to see Tokyo, the Hato bus tours offer a range of options: Dynamic Tokyo, that runs to Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace, and between stops for the tea ceremony, the Panoramic Tokyo tour, a daytime run through the city, as well as the Tokyo Bay Night Panoramic Drive, a moonlit tour that runs across the Rainbow Bridge, and for independent travelers looking for a quick taste of Tokyo by bus, the Panoramic Tokyo Drive that runs every half an hour from Tokyo Station Marunouchi South Exit is recommended.
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Night time is the best time to see the city. There’s no beating the bump and grind of a ride on a Tokyo Metro line, or joining the school of commuters on a Shinjuku sidewalk, but there’s something particularly cinematic about the view from 14 feet off the tarmac in one of the Hato Buses. Unless you’re Planning to take a taxi or rent a car, there’s not much chance to cruise around Tokyo, so the Hato Bus is perfect. The city comes alive at night.
For a deluxe experience, board the Tokyo Bay Night Panoramic Drive from Hamamatsucho. The 8800 yen ticket pays for a run to Tokyo Tower, down through Ginza, dinner at Seascape Terrace, and then a trip through Yokohama and back over the Rainbow Bridge, with a stop at Roppongi Hills for a view of the city. The Panoramic Tokyo Drive is the easiest option, if you’d like to get the view but skip the extras. The ‘O Sola Mio departs from Tokyo Station every half an hour (first tour is from 9:30am and the final tour is from 7pm).
There is a dedicated once-daily at 6:30 pm Tokyo Night View that takes passengers on a 2-hour tour of the city, but the basic ‘O Sola Mio takes about the same route as the deluxe tours, and runs in the evenings, as well. Leaving from Tokyo Station, the bus skims Hibiya Park, hitting the National Diet Building on the way to a fly-by of Tokyo Tower, across the Rainbow Bridge, and back, all in about an hour. The array of tour options can be confusing, but stick with the basic route and try to get tickets for a drive just after dusk, which comes very early in the late summer.
The tour is all-killer-no-filler, managing to snag most of central Tokyo’s streetside highlights. The tour offers an English-language narration of what’s slipping alongside you, but it can be just as valuable to kick back, cue up a vaporwave or ‘80s city pop mix, and let the wind blow through your hair.
Tickets are 1800 yen per adults and 900 yen per child under 11. Reservations can be made by phone or through travel agencies, but, as long as you’re willing to potentially wait for an open spot (why not go grab lunch in Marunouchi while you wait?), you can simply arrive at the Hato Bus sales office at the southern side of Tokyo Station.