Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s most famous districts, and for many reasons. From iconic skyscrapers, unique shops and restaurants, narrow alleyways full of bars and so much more; Shinjuku is a must-visit for anyone going to Tokyo for the first time.
When thinking about Tokyo, neon-drenched streets with vibrant nightlife will probably pop into your mind at some point. Shinjuku is the reason for this! This district of Tokyo has become very renowned for its bright lights, the buzzing atmosphere no matter the time of evening, unique restaurants, crazy shops, towering skyscrapers and so much more.
With this all being said, I put together an in-depth article on all of the reasons why you should visit Shinjuku when going to Tokyo. Whether it’s your first time visiting the district or your 5th, it’s well worth reading as there may be something you didn’t know!
So, then what are the reasons for you to visit Shinjuku?
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1. The Large Amount Of Entertainment Options
Shinjuku behind Akihabara, is probably one of Tokyo’s districts with the most amount of entertainment options going for it. The reason it is slightly behind Akihabara is simply that Akihabara has so many arcades, anime-themed establishments, maid cafes and in general, so many options for entertainment.
However, this is not to say that Shinjuku doesn’t have any entertainment options available. In fact, it has a large number of fun things to do! From traditional storytelling, a robot restaurant, arcades and so much more, you really don’t have to be worried about getting bored here at all.
Let’s take a little look in slightly more detail at just some of the entertainment options on offer at one of Tokyo’s most famous districts…
Private Karaoke Booths, To Sing Your Heart Out
If you’re anything like me, the thought of karaoke can almost make you feel sick. Why would you want to sing terribly in front of everyone? Even when intoxicated I would definitely give this a miss! However, with karaoke bars, you are given a nice little private room for you to enjoy with your friends, or even by yourself if you’d prefer.
This is a perfect activity to do if you have never really given karaoke a try or if you don’t have the confidence to perform in a larger number of people. It’s definitely worth a try, trust me. It might just be more fun than you think. After all, there is a reason why the Japanese love the activity of singing their hearts out so much!
The best option in Shinjuku for a genuinely ‘fun’ karaoke experience, would be Pasela Resorts. This place is a chilled restaurant with a variety of different foods and drinks to try. The atmosphere is very chilled out, providing for a nice entertaining evening with little to no pressure for you to do anything at all!
To book a table or a private karaoke booth at Pasela Resorts Shinjuku, click here.
The desire for arcades in Tokyo is obviously massive, and Shinjuku holds no exception to this! The love and passion for gaming in Japan have been massive for years now. This is exactly why there are some arcades located around the city that are simply ‘crazy’.
The best arcade in Shinjuku hands down has to go to Taito Station Shinjuku! With a variety of video & prize games available to visitors, it’s definitely a great time killer. Within this multistory arcade, you can expect to find many famous arcade games that you grew up to love; and some, that you may have never heard of before at all.
Practise Your Swinging At Shinjuku Batting Centre!
If you’re a fan of baseball, or just fancy swinging a wooden bat at a ball; then this activity is a great option for you to kill some time. Located in the area of Kubikicho, this establishment provides a great amount of fun starting from just ¥300($2.75). This is great value for money as this price includes 26 balls for you to hit until your heart’s content!
Enjoy Some Company At A Host/Hostess Club
This one is a slightly strange activity, as nowhere else in the world really has these clubs. People come to these clubs to sit back, relax, drink and chat with the hosts/hostesses that work there. It provides a chilled out environment where men or women can talk and drink with the employees. No physical contact is included! It’s not that type of establishment…
Host & Hostess clubs are insanely huge in Tokyo, and especially in Shinjuku. Expect to see signs advertising the clubs and their employees. In fact, some of these hosts and hostesses’ have actually reached a famous status within the city due to their popularity and demand! There are way too many clubs on offer in Shinjuku for me to possibly advise you on which one to go to. However, to find out more about them check out the video below.
Enjoy A Traditional Verbal Performance Of Rakugo
Rakugo is an extremely traditional Japanese performance that must be experienced. Suehirotei in Shinjuku is exactly the place you should go to for the optimal experience. Built way back in 1946, this building is definitely an exception to the modern architecture that is found in Shinjuku, therefore making the building almost impossible to miss.
2. Get Lost At The Worlds Busiest Railway Station
Okay, maybe don’t get lost, but definitely take a visit! Shinjuku has been rated the worlds most busiest railway station, period. It is estimated that over 3.5 million people pass through the station each and every single day. Crazy right?
The station has a massive number of 20 railway lines, accompanying trains from 5 different rail companies. There are many things to buy and see in the station so if you’re going through, why not take a good look at what’s on offer?
I obviously don’t advise checking every store or railway line, as you are bound to get lost. Not only this but to get from one end of the station to the other takes about a 45-minute walk, and the station has over 200 exits! In fact, I’d recommend getting to know your exit route while on the train before arriving at the station. This allows you to know just exactly what exit route to take, to avoid any surprises when you get there.
Visiting this place can be intimidating, but with the correct precautions in place, you can easily avoid getting lost. Planning is key when visiting this railway station, and failure to do so will result in a lot of walking!
For an in-depth guide on how to navigate Shinjuku Station, click here.
3. Visit The Metropolitan Government Office For An Amazing View
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building is one of the more famous buildings in Shinjuku, and Tokyo as a whole. At first, when hearing the name of the building, you may think that it sounds boring and isn’t very tourist-friendly. And, although this is true for the most part, there are two particular sections of the building that is literally made for tourists!
The Metropolitan Government Office is split into two skyscrapers/towers, each with observation decks at the crazy height of 202 metres. These observation decks actually provide for some of the best views that you can find in all of Tokyo. With views of mt Fuji, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower and many other famous landmarks; this is a perfect way to view Japan’s capital.
The best part about these observation decks? They are completely free to visitors! That’s right, unlike the Tokyo Tower and Skytree, you can admire the views from this building at literally no cost at all.
Each of the observation decks has cafes and shops where you can buy souvenirs to remind you of this amazing, yet low-cost experience!
4. The High-End Hotels
Shinjuku is home to many high-quality hotels that exceed many people’s expectations. Some of them can be expensive, but a lot of them are actually affordable and very good value for money.
Click here to see more on how much a hotel in Shinjuku or Tokyo as a whole can cost.
With famous hotels such as Hyatt Regency Tokyo and Hilton Hotel Tokyo, it can be quite difficult to find which hotel would be best to stay at. Therefore, below I have mentioned my personal picks for when staying in the Shinjuku district.
Hilton Hotel Tokyo
The Hilton Hotel brand is well renowned all across the globe. With over 580 hotels across six continents and roughly 115 countries, the Hilton Hotel brand should be no stranger to you. If you have never tried out a Hilton Hotel before, this may be the perfect option to start with!
With a 5-star rating, the Hilton does come with a fairly high booking price, which is to be expected. However, what is also to be expected is the free sauna, pool, fitness centre and wifi access that is all included for no additional cost. The hotel even has restaurants and shops inside of it, giving you something to do in your evening if you want a nice chilled one staying inside your accommodation.
Check prices for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo here.
Shinjuku Prince Hotel
On a less popular scale, we have the Shinjuku Prince Hotel. Despite this hotel not being as big in scale as the Hilton, it does not lack in its quality. With massage services, a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and free wifi access; you can expect a comfortable and impressive stay at this 4-star establishment.
This hotel is extremely easy to access due to only being a 5-minute walk from the previously mentioned Shinjuku Station. The hotel itself is relatively classy and on the higher-end, making it a luxurious stay for anyone in the area!
Check prices for Shinjuku Prince Hotel here.
Hyatt Regency Tokyo
Hyatt Regency is another one of Tokyo’s famous hotels, and for good reason. This 4-star hotel located next to Shinjuku Central Park is luxurious, high-end and fairly expensive! However, despite the sometimes high booking prices, this hotel is great value for money…
With a 24-hour convenience store, Italian and Chinese food available at the restaurant/cafe, a spa and fitness centre, high-speed wifi and an amazing view; Hyatt Regency is definitely worth the price if you have the cash available.
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Nishi-Shinjuku
On a much more affordable note, this 3-star hotel is a great choice with English speaking staff at the front desk. Don’t be put off by the lower star rating, as this hotel is very highly rated by previous customers.
With high-speed wifi and amazing city views available, the Daiwa Roynet Hotel Nishi-Shinjuku is a perfect option for accommodation when staying in Shinjuku on a tight budget!
5. Visit Kabukicho, The Red Light District Of Tokyo
Although known as a somewhat seedy and sketchy area of Tokyo, Kabukicho is a very popular area for locals and tourists to visit. From many traditional bars, adult entertainment options, crazy restaurants and so much more; Kabukicho is a hub for intriguing sights to see.
Kabukicho is a much smaller district located within Shinjuku. It is a very well known area and probably one of the more famous areas within the city. This district actually inspired the world that the Yakuza games take place in, and there is reasoning for this! Apparently the Yakuza flock and own the streets of Kabukicho, however, it is nothing like the games, so don’t worry!
As previously mentioned, there are an abundant amount of adult entertainment options within Kabukicho. I won’t go majorly into detail on these, but the main choice is host/hostess clubs. Here, you can enjoy company with the person of your choice. The freedom is yours to drink, chat and joke!
6. Explore The Traditional & Narrow Alleys Of Golden Gai!
Located in the smaller district of Kabukicho, we have the very famous Golden Gai. This small area is famous for its narrow alleyways that contain over 200 minibars and restaurants!
When we say minibars and restaurants, we really mean it. Due to them being located in these seriously narrow spaces, the bars themselves only have seats and room for roughly around 4-5 people each! Due to this, there is usually a seating charge for the majority of these establishments within Golden Gai.
However, don’t be expecting to be able to visit any bar or restaurant that you please, as this isn’t the case. Many of the establishments within Golden Gai only accept locals or members. This gives Golden Gai the reputation for seeming so sketchy or seedy, as only the people who go into these buildings know what happens.
Talking of seedy, photography is pretty much frowned upon within this area. You can catch yourself into some trouble if you’re found recording the wrong person. This is all down to Golden Gai’s secrecy and reputation that causes people to not be exposed to being there.
Despite all of this, Kabukicho is actually an awesome palace to visit. You can taste some of the best food in all of the city, take a drink in a bar with only 3 other people being there and so much more. The vibe, feeling and experience of visiting Golden Gai is truly unique, and there is nowhere else like it in the world
7. Omoide Yakocho
Translating into ‘Memory Lane’, Omoide Yakocho gets its name from its many traditional restaurants located within the alleyway. In a sense, it is just like Golden Gai, but with the majority of establishments being restaurants instead of bars. It is also much smaller than Golden Gai, being just one alleyway that takes about a 5-minute walk to reach the end.
However, Omoide Yakocho is undoubtedly a place that you should have on your radar to visit. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this alleyway is its location. Located right outside Shinjuku within the modern Japanese architecture, lays Memory Lane remaining untouched and staying true to that traditional Japanese feel. It feels as if you have travelled back in time while walking down the alley, and it is a truly unique experience you can’t really find anywhere else in the world!