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Shinjuku, Tokyo

Like Shibuya, Shinjuku is another of Tokyo’s city wards, but the name itself most commonly refers to the busy entertainment, shopping, and business district surrounding Shinjuku station. There are electronics stores, underground malls, and department stores on all four sides of the train station. Additionally, there is an extensive selection of shops inside the station building. Very close by, you will find the newly redeveloped Southern Terrace, which is a pleasant pedestrian zone surrounded by businesses, department stores and eateries.

With over three million passengers passing through it every day, Shinjuku station itself is registered in the Guinness World Records as the busiest train station in the world. It has 36 platforms, and connects 12 different subway and railway lines. There are also more than 200 exits to take you outside, should you wish to connect your rail journey with one of several city or highway buses.

To the west of the station, you will find Shinjuku’s commercial district. This has some of Tokyo’s tallest skyscrapers, as well as luxury hotels. The Metropolitan Government Office is also here, which has public observation decks accessible for free. To the northeast, you’ll find Kabukicho, which is the biggest red light district in Japan.

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Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku districts
Skyscraper District
Restaurants typically open between 11:00 and 23:00. Some close for a short time in the afternoon.

You’ll find some of the tallest buildings in Japan just to the west of Shinjuku station. Many have luxury restaurants located on the top floor, with stunning views of the city. You’ll also find several top class hotels here, including the Park Hyatt, which was one of the locations featured in the movie, “Lost in Translation.”

Kabukicho
Some restaurants open 24 hours, with most open between 11:00 and 24:00.
Bars usually open from around 19:30 until the next morning.
Some places are closed on Sundays.

This is Japan’s biggest red light district. It was given its name because of a plan to build a kabuki theater in the area in the 1940s, although this never came to fruition. Here, you’ll find a large number of bars, love hotels and pachinko parlors, along with red light establishments catering to pretty much any persuasion. Be aware that some clubs in Kabukicho charge a very hefty cover fee.

Golden Gai
Bars usually open from around 19:30 until the next morning, often with a cover charge between 500 and 1000 yen.
Most places are closed on Sundays.

Golden Gai is an amazing little nightlife district within Kabukicho. It consists of six small alleyways, which are packed with over 200 tiny bars. Each building is only a few feet wide. Some of the bars display English menus to encourage foreigners to stop in. Golden Gai looks quite run-down, but the crime rate is very low in Japan, so the area is generally safer than it might look.

Omoide Yokocho
Restaurants typically open between 17:00 and 24:00. Some also open for lunch.

“Omoide Yokocho” means “Memory Lane,” but the place is commonly known as “Piss Alley,” both to outsiders and the Japanese. This little area is located to the northwest of Shinjuku station, and is famous for excellent yakitori. You can also find soba, ramen, sushi, and kushiyaki, among other dishes. The restaurants here are as tiny the bars of Golden Gai, and there is a similar, run-down feel, which is all part of the charm.

Shin-Okubo Koreatown
Opening hours vary.

Located near Shin-Okubo station, this is a section of Shinjuku that is almost exclusively dedicated to Korean restaurants and shops. Many of these are owned by Korean immigrants. The stores sell a range of wares from Korea, including K-Pop CDs and videos, as well as groceries.

Shinjuku Attractions
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Open between 9:30 and 23:00 (South Observatory closes at 17:30)
Closures: December 29 to January 3 (except January 1); North Observatory closed on 2nd and 4th Monday of the month (except holidays); South Observatory closed on 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month (except holidays). Also closed for occasional inspections.
Free Admission

These twin skyscrapers are each 243 meters tall. Together with the surrounding buildings, they house Tokyo’s government offices and city hall. There is also a public observatory on level 45 of each building, although the view from the south tower is generally regarded as the better one.

Central Park
Free admission; open 24/7

Central Park is situated directly behind the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It houses a Shinto shrine, along with a large part of Tokyo’s homeless population.

Sword Museum
Open between 10:00 and 16:30
Closed on Mondays and during the New Year period.
Admission: 600 yen.

In Japan, swords are considered not only weapons, but significant cultural artifacts. The Japanese Sword museum has an excellent collection of blades, armor and sword mountings. The information provided to English-speaking visitors is comprehensive.

Shinjuku Gyoen
Open between 9:00 and 16:30 (last entry at 16:00)
Closed on Mondays (or Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday) and from December 29 to January 3.
No closure days during cherry blossom season (late March – late April) or chrysanthemum season (first half of November)
Admission: 200 yen.

Widely regarded as one of the best spots to view cherry blossoms, this is a large public park within easy access of Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku Department Stores

Isetan
Open between 10:00 and 20:00
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 22:00

This is the flagship branch of a leading Japanese department store. It has ten floors, with eateries located on the top levels, as well as a full food hall in the basement.  

Takashimaya
Open between 10:00 and 20:00
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 23:00
Closed on January 1 (Restaurants remain open)

This Takashimaya branch has fifteen floors, three of which are given over to restaurants. There is also a complete food hall in the basement. It also contains branches of Kinokuniya (book store) and Tokyu Hands (hobby, DIY and variety store). It is worth noting that the Kinokuniya branch here has a comprehensive foreign language section.

Odakyu
Open between 10:00 and 20:30 (20:00 on Sundays)
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 22:30

The 16 storey Odakyu Department store has a fantastic Food Hall in the basement, along with restaurants on its upper levels. “Odakyu” is a shortened form of “Odawara Express,” as the Odakyu group also operates the railway line between Odawara and Shinjuku.

Keio
Open between 10:00 and 20:00
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 22:00

Like most of the department stores in the area, Keio has a Food Hall in the basement, and several other restaurants inside the store. The Keio group also operates the rail line between Western Tokyo and Shinjuku.

Lumine
Open between 11:00 and 22:00
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 23:00

Owned by the Japan Railways company, JR East, Lumine is situated near the South and East exits of Shinjuku station. It is mainly a fashion department store, aimed at women in their 20s and older, and is split into three different malls: Lumine 1, Lumine 2 and Lumine Est.

MyLord
Open between 11:00 and 21:00
Restaurants open between 11:00 and 23:00

MyLord has ten levels in total: three restaurant floors and seven boutique shopping floors. There is also a convenient pedestrian walkway called “Mosaic Dori,” linking it with the Odakyu and Keio department stores.

Electronics Shopping in Shinjuku
Yodobashi Camera
Open between 9:30 and 22:00

This is one of the leading discount stores for electronics, and particularly cameras, in Japan. It has a number of branches throughout Tokyo. The main Yodobashi Camera store in Shinjuku is divided between six buildings and situated near Shinjuku station’s West exit. In addition to this, there is a smaller store near the East exit.

Bic Camera
Open between 10:00 and 22:00 (Western branch closes at 21:00)

Another of Japan’s leading retailers for discount electronics, Bic Camera has two Shinjuku branches. One is near the West exit of Shinjuku station (inside the Odakyu Halc building) and the other is near the East exit (near Isetan).

Yamada Denki
Open between 10:30 and 22:30 (10:00 to 22:00 on Sundays and public holidays)

Yamada Denki is a well-known electronics chain in Japan, and has two Shinjuku stores. One is situated near the Kabukicho entrance, and the other is near Yodobashi Camera.

Getting to Shinjuku
Shinjuku station is a connecting station for about 12 different rail lines. To travel to Shinjuku from Tokyo station, take the Rapid Service on the JR Chuo line. This takes under 15 minutes. From Ueno station, you can travel on the JR Yamanote line, which takes around 25 minutes, or via Kanda station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line for a slightly shorter trip. The fare for all of these journeys is 190 yen.

Accommodation
There are plenty of options for all budgets in Shinjuku. It’s a popular place to stay because of the sheer amount of entertainment and shopping options. There are a number of high-end hotels towards the western side of Shinjuku (among the skyscrapers). For cheaper digs, try the area to the east, near Kabukicho. The crime rate is very low in Japan, so it is quite safe to stay there.

Before booking your stay you should definitely check out the page on Shinjuku hotels.