Shinjuku is one of the most famous districts in Tokyo, best known for its entertainment attractions and lavish nightlife scenes. The Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than three million passengers every day. Tokyo’s most famous department stores are clustered around Shinjuku Station’s exits meaning you have access to high-class shopping as soon as you set foot off the train. West of the station is Shinjuku’s skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo’s tallest buildings including several luxurious hotels and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. Northeast of the station lies Kabukicho, Japan’s largest and wildest red-light district. In Shinjuku, it is all business in the day and entertainment at night.
The west side of Shinjuku Station is called “Skyscraper District” and home to numerous tall buildings. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings is an iconic building within the area, and it has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo for the past decade. The twin buildings have observation decks offering the panoramic city view of the city and surroundings. Skyscraper Districts also includes several leading hotels such as the Keio Plaza, Hilton Tokyo, Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Activities: Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Originally named after a kabuki theatre that was never actually built, Kabukicho is Japan’s largest red-light district features countless restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pachinko parlors, love hotels, and a wide variety of red light establishments for all sexes and sexual orientations. It is also popular as a night photography spot as the streets are lit up by colorful neon lights all night long. Kabukicho’s Robot Restaurant is famed among locals and tourists for its unusual, multi-colored, and flashing show.
Activities: Shopping, eating Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Golden Gai is a tiny yet atmospheric nightlife alley near Kabukicho area, packed with over 200 small bars and eateries. Most establishments only seat a few customers, and typically cater to regular visitors. Although the buildings are generally ramshackle, and the alleys are dimly lit, giving the area a run-down appearance, Golden Gai’s is not a cheap place to drink. Many of the bars have a particular theme, such as jazz, R&B, karaoke, punk rock, and their walls are sometimes liberally plastered with movie and concert posters. The alleys are private roads, therefore shooting photographs is prohibited without the permission of the area's business promotion association. Activities: Eating Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Omoide Yokocho (literally translates to “memory lane”) is a narrow and rustic alley packed with tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi, yakitori, and a typical izakaya menu. This smokey alley with red lanterns is a popular spot for foreign tourists as they can experience the old-fashioned Japanese drinking culture with authentic pub food and drink like locals. Some establishments even offer menus in English. Omoide Yokocho is also one of the most popular photo spots in Tokyo today.
Activities: Eating Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
One-stop north or 15 mins walk from Shinjuku Station is Shin-Okubo, the largest Korean town in Tokyo where hundreds of Korean restaurants and shops gather. This district is trending among the young generation nowadays due to the K-pop boom. Many of the shops and restaurants are operated by Koreans and offer a variety of Korean goods, including K-Pop music, beauty products, and groceries. You can enjoy many kinds of Korean food in restaurants and on the streets of Shin Okubo. The most popular dishes include Korean hot dogs (hatogu) and Korean pancake (hotteok).
Activities: Eating, shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Located just a short walk from Shinjuku station, Shinjuku Gyoen offers a massive green space with a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. This park is one of Tokyo’s largest and most pleasant parks, and one of the city’s best cherry blossom viewing spots. Originally a garden for the Imperial Family, Shinjuku Gyoen is now a public park and provides a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it. The park is comprised of three different types of gardens: Japanese, French, and English landscape gardens.
Activities: Relaxing, walking Fee: JPY 500 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
There is a multitude of restaurants serving sushi in Shinjuku. One of the most recommended ones includes Sushidokoro Yachiyo, which has 3 branches in Shinjuku alone (Yotsuya, Ushigome, and Iidabashi). A variety of sushi is served (the price starts from JPY 110/piece). Additionally, you can sign up for a sushi-making experience where you will be taught three types of basic sushi (nigiri, gunkan-maki and hand-rolled sushi). Afterwards, you will be able to taste it, along with sushi prepared by the chefs. Should you want to experience it, please sign up in advance. (Image via Official Website)
A renowned izakaya franchise with about 91 stores throughout the nation. With their own poultry farms in Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Hokkaido, the restaurants ensure the freshness and quality of the ingredients. The classic popular menu includes grilled chicken, teppanyaki and especially nabe (Japanese hotpot). The speciality stock is made by stewing the chicken bones for more than 8 hours and promises to boost your health and beauty. The nabe comes with a variety of fresh vegetables, prawns and chickens. (Image via Official Website)
Kani Doraku is a franchised crab restaurant from Osaka city. It is one of the most recognisable restaurants in Japan, with a gigantic moving crab display outside of most of the branches. Serving various kinds of Japanese high-quality crabs in every tasty way such as fresh, boil and grill in traditional Japanese dining. The Shinjuku ekimae branch is a direct connection from Shinjuku station, east exit. It is a sukiya style of building and at the dinner timer, there is koto music performance in the centre stage. (Image via Official Website)
This Shinjuku’s most unusual and talked-about theme restaurant is a popular show that combines robots, dragons, ninjas, blue-haired dancers, drums, a whole lot of neon lights, and loud music. Opened in 2012, the show covers everything from traditional Japanese culture to futuristic robot empire, all in sparkly fun. The entrance fee JPY 8,000/person, with an optional meal fee of JPY 1,000. Due to high demand, it is advised to purchase tickets in advance as soon as possible. Potential visitors should also take note that the show includes many bright, flashing lights, as well as some loud, and potentially startling noises. (Image via Timeout)
Located in Kabukicho, the Samurai Museum features samurai armours, swords, weapons, including guns, and many others. Most of these are reproductions, accurately modelled after genuine articles from Kamakura and Edo periods. It is recommended for foreign tourists who not armed with exhaustive samurai knowledge and would like to see and learn something more, but maybe not in the context of a huge museum like the National Museum in Ueno. Besides an interesting guided tour and an exhilarating sword demonstration, visitors have the opportunity to put on samurai armour and helmets and take amusing photos. (Image via Official Website)
This highly popular and Tokyo’s official souvenir sweet is a Japanese banana-shaped sponge cake with cream filling. Tokyo Bananas come in many different flavours and are usually packaged individually in plastic. The original flavour is known as Tokyo Banana Miitsuketa) and is filled with banana custard cream. The cream filling uses strained banana puree. After baking, the sponge cake is steamed to bring out a soft texture. Tokyo Bananas are sold across stores in Tokyo and several major Japanese airports. (Image via Official Website)
Kabuki Face Mask
Kabuki is a classical form of Japanese dance-drama and most renowned for its elaborate kumadori make-up worn by some of its performers to reveal the personality of a character at a glance. The Kabuki Face Mask includes a sheet printed with a Kabuki makeup expression that makes you look like a Kabuki actor. Not only it is fun to put a kabuki mask on your face, but it also moisturizes your skin. If you are looking for something unique and very Japanese, the Kabuki Face Mask must be the one. (Image via OMG Japan)
Omamuri is Japanese amulets commonly sold at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, dedicated to particular Shinto kami as well as Buddhist figures, and are said to provide various forms of luck or protection. Omamori is available at both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples with few exceptions and is available for sale, regardless of one's religious affiliation. Visitors often give omamori as a gift to another person as a physical form of well-wishing. (Image via Sugoii-Japan)