Many large facilities line the streets of Shinjuku, known to be one of Japan's most famous amusement quarters, and some areas of Shinjuku allow you to enjoy shopping, and have great nighttime fun in places such as Kabukicho and Shinjuku Ni-chome. Let us introduce you to the many attractive sides of Shinjuku.
What is Shinjuku?
As you can see, there is the word “juku (lodging)” in the name, meaning the area originally flourished as a post town. Shinjuku started to develop as a post town during the Edo period when the Koshu-kaido Road, the fundamental road of the town, was improved, and it gradually became an entertainment district as well as a general lodging place.
It is said that Shinjuku started to become the unique terminal railroad station like it is now when the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred in 1923. The grounds of Ginza and downtown areas such as Asakusa were soft, resulting in the collapse of the areas, but Shinjuku was on elevated ground, so there was very little damage. This lead to many people moving to Shinjuku, and thus the area became a terminal station. Later, more people moved to the area, and the number of department stores and restaurants increased.
This trend was the same even after WWII, and along with the emerging of Kabukicho, many movie theaters and theaters for shows and plays opened, making Shinjuku a popular trendsetting area of subcultures. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office moved to Shinjuku, and many more skyscrapers were built in the 1990's. This is how Shinjuku became a business district as well. Shinjuku has become a place where various people and cultures gather, and it is now known as being popular among foreign tourists.
How to go to Shinjuku (Station)
Many different trains run straight through Shinjuku Station, one of Japan's leading terminal stations. Yamanote Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan Shinjuku Line, Chuo Line, and Sobu Line are all JR, and subways would be Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Toei (Metropolitan Subway) Shinjuku Line, and Oedo Line. Others are Keio Line and Odakyu Line. You can go to various places within Tokyo using Shinjuku as a base, and if you want to go to Shinjuku, there are a myriad of ways to go.
For example, if you want to go to Shinjuku Station from Narita International Airport, you can use the JR Narita Express from Narita Airport Terminal 2, 3 Station, and it will be an hour and a half ride. If you are going to Shinjuku Station from Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport, you can use the Keikyu Airport Line and reach Shinagawa Station, then take the JR Yamanote Line, which will take about 40 minutes.
Since Shinjuku Station is the terminal station, there are many direct bus services going there. You may want to use this service. Since you can access many places, you can conveniently use Shinjuku as a base of your tour of Tokyo.
How to walk in Shinjuku
characteristics. It is no exaggeration to say that you can fully enjoy your visit to Japan just by staying in Shinjuku alone because shopping, eating, and a nightlife unique to Japan and more are available right here.
Unique to Shinjuku are the changing aspects of the area depending on the time of day. You may want to experience fun in various ways, such as having fun shopping and engaging in activities during the day, and at nighttime, you can enjoy dinner and drinking in bars. Most areas are within a 10-minute walking distance, so being able to easily walk around is an advantage.
1. Shopping at shops of Shibuya
■Isetan Shinjuku Store
It is a long-established department store, staring business in 1931. Under the concept of providing the world's best hospitality and the world's best fashion museum, they have a great collection of men's and women's wear and children's goods. On the “fashion floor,” they have the best domestic and foreign brand name goods, and on the “food floor,” they have famous and popular restaurants, where you can enjoy various gourmet food. Many areas have staff that speak English for foreign tourists. There are many shops that are duty-free, great for choosing souvenirs.
“Isetan Shinjuku Store”
●3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●Irregular store holidays
*subject to changes
Newly opened in 2016, it is the new symbol of Shinjuku. Access is great, since you can go directly from JR Shinjuku Station. Some shops open at 7 in the morning, so you can eat breakfast here, which is a nice feature. On the “fashion floor,” you will find many popular brand name shops, and there are over 100 kinds of miscellaneous goods and cosmetics! Some items can only be found here, such as items made by Japan's traditional craftsmen.
●4-1-6, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●Irregular store holidays
*Depends on each floor and shops
■Sekaido Shinjuku Main Store
Known for its catch phrase “Mona Lisa mo Bikkuri (Even Mona Lisa is surprised),” it is perhaps the largest painting and stationary specialty store in the industry. Overflowing with painting materials and stationaries, the store is popular among foreign tourists. Great place for tourists who want to paint a beautiful Japanese scenery. Carrying around art supplies and a sketch book, and painting while traveling sounds wonderful.
“Sekaido Shinjuku Main Store”
●Sekaido Building floors 1-5, 3-1-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●Closed during end of year and New Year's holiday
2. Sightseeing in Shinjuku
Shinjuku Gyoen is an oasis in Shinjuku, where there are many skyscrapers. It was originally the residence of the Naito family of the Takato Domain located in Shinano Province, who was devoted to the development of the area during the Edo period, and it has become a public park after WWII. On the vast land of approximately 58 hectares, there is a Japanese garden, an English landscape style garden, and a French formal garden. There are more than 10,000 trees planted on the site. Above all, their cherry trees are a must-see. They have been chosen as “Japan's top 100 cherry blossom spots,” and during the best season, many people gather to see the flowers.
●11, Naitomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
■Shinjuku Golden Gai
It is a bar district, recently popular among foreign tourists. Within a mere 2,000 tsubo (1 tsubo=approx. 3.3 square meters) area, approximately 200 small bars are crammed in. A lot of the bars have their own unique concept, such as good music or dishes, so you may want to enjoy more than one bar. Foreigners as well as Japanese come to this district, so you can relax and have fun. The customers get along well, and you can easily talk to each other. You can say that the Golden Gai is the trendsetting area of subcultures.
“Shinjuku Golden Gai”
●1, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
■Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho
Along with Shinjuku Golden Gai, this area is also Shinjuku's representative bar and eatery district. Their history is longer than Golden Gai, probably having its origin in the black market, which was established around 1946. For that reason, there is an atmosphere of old-fashioned Japan. Many of the bars mainly serve meat dishes such as roast chicken meat and giblets, so if you aren't into raw food such as sashimi and sushi, this place is highly recommended.
“Shinjuku Omoide Yoko-cho”
●1-2, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
3. Restaurants in Shinjuku
Even in Shinjuku, where different cultures blend, this restaurant where there are giant robots, is quite conspicuous. Their biggest attraction is their show using robots that cost ten billion yen altogether. They also have programs arranging Japanese culture using Japanese drums and Kabuki. You should go for the show, rather than expecting a restaurant. You are sure to become addicted to a special world you can experience only at the Robot Restaurant.
●Shinjuku Robot Building B2 floor, 1-7-7, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku,Tokyo
*4 programs per day. For details, please refer to their official website.
●Open all year
■Tsuribune-jaya (fishing restaurant) Zauo Shinjuku Branch
The point of sashimi, a representative Japanese food, is its freshness. “Zauo” is the place for you, if you want to enjoy fishing. Here, as an attraction, you can rent a fishing rod and fish your own fish, and you can have your fish cooked into sashimi or sushi. If you are not into raw food, you can have broiled fish, boiled fish in soy sauce, or deep-fried fish. How about trying fishing in the middle of Tokyo?
“Fishing Restaurant Zauo Shinjuku Branch”
●Shinjuku Washington Hotel 1st floor, 3-2-9, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●11:30-14:30 / 17:00-23:00
*Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays: 11:30-14:30 / 16:00-23:00
●Closed: year end and New Year's holiday
■NIKKO KANAYA HOTEL CRAFT GRILL
In Japan, you can enjoy various food from different cultures as well as Japanese food, and we especially recommend this restaurant. Under the theme “tradition and innovation,” the dishes they serve are Western, but arranged to make them Japanese-style. You can choose from different kinds of alcoholic beverages such as craft beer. If you find Japanese food such as raw fish a bit difficult to eat, this place is the one for you.
“NIKKO KANAYA HOTEL CRAFT GRILL”
●B1F, 3-32-6, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●11:30-15:00 / 17:00-23:00
*Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays: 11:30-23:00
●Open all year
4. Hotels in Shinjuku
■Hotel Wing International Shinjuku
This is a hotel located in Kabukicho, a district of nightlife, a six-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station. Nearby are tourist spots such as Shinjuku Gyoen and Hanazono Jinja Shrine, and shopping malls in various places, allowing a convenient shopping experience. The front desk is open 24 hours, so you can rest assured in cases of emergencies. In the rooms, the beds have original pocket coil mattresses, allowing you a comfortable sleep.
“Hotel Wing International Shinjuku”
●1-21-7, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
■Park Hyatt Tokyo
It is a luxury hotel in Shinjuku Park Tower, which is near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The best part is that you can get a great view of Tokyo. There are 177 rooms, including 23 suites. You are sure to feel comfortable with a wonderful view and relaxing interiors. Aside from restaurants, there are spas and gyms. Recommended for a long-term stay.
“Park Hyatt Tokyo”
●3-7-1-2, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
This hotel is for those who want to stay at a reasonable price. The good point about it is that it is only 3 minutes away from JR Shinjuku Station. The rooms are simply decorated, but the pillows and comforters are carefully chosen to secure a pleasant sleep. All rooms have internet access, so it is convenient that you can collect information while on your trip. Breakfast is offered in buffet style, and on a clear day, the terraces are made available for you, so you can enjoy breakfast bathing in the relaxing morning sun.
●1-23-1, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
5. Other Attractions
■Ninja Trick House in Tokyo
The “Ninja” is Japan's leading hero, and is a boom all over the world. Although located in Kabukicho, it is an experience-type Ninja house, made using a traditional Japanese-style house as motif, where you can wear a Ninja costume and throw shuriken (dirks) of your dreams and hold up Ninja swords. Especially recommended for men.
“Ninja Trick House in Tokyo”
●Daiichi Wako Bld. 4F, 2-28-13, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Along with Ninjas, samurais are representatives of Japanese heroes. Inside the building which resembles a traditional Japanese house, you will find a genuine armor, which was actually used 450 years ago, allowing you to experience the samurai spirit. On the second floor, there is a spot where you can take pictures wearing a real samurai armor.
●2-25-6, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Shinjuku nightlife and recommended places to go in Kabukicho
Shinjuku is known to be a thriving night spot. Above all, you can find many restaurants and bars in Kabukicho. Since it is known to be one of Asia's largest entertainment districts, and many eateries and bars are open until very late at night, Kabukicho is called “a town that never sleeps.”
In Kabukicho, a lot of restaurants and bars open at night, so things are slow during the day, since most of them are closed. We recommend going to Kabukicho at nighttime.
Shinjuku Ni-chome, a district of “New Half”
One of the cultures unique to Shinjuku is the entertainment district of “New Half (transgender women)” in Shinjuku Ni-chome. It is thriving every night as a gay town that represents not only Tokyo, but the whole nation. Shinjuku Ni-chome was originally a thriving “Yukaku (Japanese geisha house district)”, (*) and after the Great Kanto Earthquake that burned other such districts like Yoshiwara and Susaki, Ni-chome was left virtually unscathed and thus prospered.
After WWII in 1958, geisha house districts were abolished, and later on, “New Half” started to gather in Ni-chome, starting businesses by opening up saloons and bars. “New Half” bars are mostly concentrated in Shinjuku Ni-chome, and “New Half” come to have fun every night. Many of them are cheerful and can have a lighthearted conversation, sometimes speaking their minds outright, so men and women who want to have a good conversation with them gather here. Ni-chome has gradually become a popular tourist spot.
(*) Yukaku: a district with mostly geisha houses, surrounded by fences and moats
Recommended places to go in Shinjuku Ni-chome
They are a long-established pioneer of Japan's “New Half” saloon. Strictly speaking, they are not located in Shinjuku Ni-chome, but you can enjoy various shows every night. The dance shows by the “New Half” ladies are popular, and you can talk with them after the show at your own table. Some staff members can only speak Japanese, so the saloon is probably for those who can speak at least a little Japanese.
●Daini Wizard Seven Building 5th fl. 1-2-8, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●18:00-1:00 of the next day
●Closed on Sundays
*Open when Monday falls on a holiday, and the next Monday will be closed.
Located right in the middle of Shinjuku Ni-chome, they are a mainstream “New Half” bar. It's a popular drinking while standing type bar, crowded with customers every night, and you can enjoy alcoholic beverages from around the world. Many foreign tourists go there as well, so even if you are a first timer, you can join in without hesitation, which is a good point. Have fun mingling with others while having drinks from around the world.
●Dainana TENKA BLD 1F, 2-18-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
●18:00-2:00 of the next day
*Fridays and Saturdays: 18:00-5:00 of the next day; Sundays: 18:00-24:00
Summary of Shinjuku
Shinjuku has many different sides depending on night or day, and depending on which area you are in. You can have various experiences unique to Shinjuku, so you may want to add the area as a travel destination candidate. If you come to Japan for travel, please try Shinjuku.
*The above information was last updated April 26, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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