When visiting Tokyo, planning which areas and districts you will go to while on your trip is essential. The main thing that people ask when researching a foreign area is “is it safe?” We’ve all done it before, it’s completely natural. So that being said, with it being in the 5th safest city in the world, is the Shinjuku district safe?
Shinjuku is a safe place to visit. Despite it being the district with the highest amount of crime in Tokyo each year (averaging 2700 incidents), it is the biggest district in Tokyo, so numbers will always be higher. 12-14% of these crimes consist of violence, most crimes are shoplifting or thievery.
In any other city, knowing that a certain district is known for having the most crime, would normally be enough to put someone off going there completely. However, Tokyo and Shinjuku are different. In this article, we are going to dig into just how safe Shinjuku is and why you should visit, even after knowing these statistics.
Is Shinjuku Safe?
Shinjuku is a district located just slightly west of the centre of the city. It is one of the most attractive places for tourists to visit, mainly due to its sheer amount of things to do and see.
Amazing views from the Tokyo metropolitan building to the bustling nightlife of Kabukicho. The beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen Garden to the traditional narrow street alleys of Golden Gai. Shinjuku truly has a lot in its pocket.
However, sometimes everything that glitters is not gold (see what I did there?). Thankfully, this is not the case with Shinjuku!
It is important to note though, that Shinjuku does have the highest average amount of crimes every year. In fact, it has an increase in crime of 49% compared to second place in the list, Ikebukuro. (Source)
So, if Shinjuku has the highest amount of crime incidents each year, how is it considered safe?
Shinjuku is the largest district in Tokyo, having many neighbourhoods within it. Therefore, this explains how the amount of crime that takes place is higher than anywhere else in the city.
A bigger area means more people, more people means more vulnerability to a percentage of criminals; which in turn, means more likelihood of crimes being committed.
Not only should we take this into account, but Tokyo itself is an extremely safe city. It is ranked 5th in the world for the safest cities; yet, it is the biggest and most populated in the world also.
Just let that sink in…
With a crime index of only 23.57 out of 100(Source), Japan’s massive metropolis isn’t actually doing too bad with preventing crime from taking place.
So, Why Do People Think Shinjuku Is Unsafe?
One of the reasons people think Shinjuku is unsafe is due to it having the highest crime rate in Tokyo. The other reason is because of the media and how they have portrayed Shinjuku in the past.
Let’s take a look at two famous examples. The ‘Yakuza’ game series and the ‘Shinjuku Incident’ movie both show sides of the criminal underworld within the area. Despite this ‘underworld’ actually existing in real life, it’s not as common or as big as it used to be. I go into this in more detail later on in this article.
Is Shinjuku Safe To Travel On Your Own?
Shinjuku is definitely safe for travelling on your own. Tokyo has an average of 13.5 million tourists who visit the city each and every year, and a very high percentage of these people have Shinjuku on their list of places to see. (Source)
Click here to read ‘7 reasons why you should visit Shinjuku ASAP’
If you have ever travelled solo before then you know how it works; don’t wander down dark alleys, stay where the crowd is, have a secret spot for extra money in case you are robbed etc…
It’s all the same principles in Shinjuku.
Shinjuku is a very busy place which has both an advantage and a disadvantage.
The advantage is that there are always witnesses around, therefore meaning it is very unlikely anyone will commit any serious crimes.
The disadvantage, however, is that it provides a very easy way for pickpockets being able to commit their crimes. Due to the huge number of people, you don’t think twice about someone being right behind you in your personal space; and then before you even realise you have been robbed, they will be hiding in the crowd.
Unfortunately, this has to be mentioned due to the majority of crimes in Shinjuku being either pickpocketing or shoplifting. Still, though, it is much better than having extremely violent crimes take place.
Also, with basic precautions being taken, you can avoid being robbed.
Is It Safe To Walk Around Shinjuku At Night?
One of the most famous things about Shinjuku is in fact its bustling nightlife. With dazzling neon lights, highly rated clubs and bars, and atmospheric karaoke bars; Shinjuku is arguably worth visiting even more at night time.
Due to Shinjuku’s reputation for being amazing at night, this means that it is always busy. The Japanese people love to party and have fun after a hard day or week of work. The more people there are around, the more safe the area is; this rule is especially important when visiting somewhere at night.
Check out this Shinjuku night walk video, to get a better idea of how it looks of an evening!
What Is The Least Safest Area In Shinjuku?
Shinjuku as a whole is considered ‘safe’. However, there is an area within Shinjuku where the majority of its crimes take place. This place is called Kabukicho.
Kabukicho is the red light district of Tokyo and is known for being somewhat shady and slightly mysterious. This neighbourhood of Shinjuku in particular is susceptible to having pickpockets about; though it has gotten better in recent years.
Click here to read ‘Is Kabukicho Safe?’
Another thing to look out for when in Kabukicho is dodgy bar owners. If you get invited into a bar or club and they speak perfect English, they are most likely trying to take advantage of you or charge you crazy sky-high prices.
This doesn’t go for all English-speaking business owners, but it is something to be wary of.
Kabukicho is still an amazing place and you should definitely still visit.
Shinjuku is home to some of the best attractions, bars, restaurants and much more. Despite the statistics going against it, Shinjuku still shines as a plethora of pure ambience and fun.
Statistics do not always tell the full story…
If you were to ask me “should I visit Shinjuku?” I would simply say yes a million times over. I would even strongly recommend visiting Kabukicho and its famous Golden Gai.
There is nowhere else like Shinjuku in the world, period.