15 things to see and do in Shinjuku, Tokyo’s neon district

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what to see and do in shinjuku

In the Shinjuku district, everything that one has in mind when thinking of the futuristic metropolis of Tokyo is concentrated: a world of neon, colors, noise and places that never sleep. It is simply another universe, where everything seems possible. You want to know everything to see and do in Shinjuku? Keep reading!

Things to see and do in Shinjuku

1. The first stop that we recommend is before setting foot on its streets: the Shinjuku station. This place has an amazing record: more than 3.5 million people pass through here every day! But what is even more incredible is that, even at rush hour and with the craziest crowds, everything is perfectly organized. Everything but you! Because while the Japanese seem to follow imaginary lines, which never intersect or collide, you will find yourself standing there, not knowing exactly where to shoot without breaking that organized chaos.

2. When you leave, go to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (“Billet“) And go up to the viewpoint on the 45th floor, where one of the best panoramic views of Tokyo awaits you. Up there you will see the immensity of this city, one of the largest in the world, which seems to never end. If the day is clear (and pollution allows it) you will be able to see even the silhouette of Mt Fuji. The building is made up of two towers, and paths have a free viewpoint, although with different hours. If you can visit both, and better if it is at sunset.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Lookout

3. And now yes, let’s get into the middle of the thick: the streets of Shinjuku are a constant madness, they seem to never sleep since the first neon lights up. And neon is the thing, you can not leave this neighborhood without taking the typical photo with the hundreds of neons that illuminate it. There is no other place like it in the world, not even Times Square in New York can compete with the lights of Shinjuku.

4. You must have seen the movie of Lost in translation which spends most of the time in the Park Hyatt hotel. You know what? Yes, if you know: it is in this neighborhood! Staying in it is quite expensive, but you can always go for a drink at its bar, the New York Bar. The prices are high (drinks are around € 20), but the views make up for it: it is located on the 52nd floor of the building! Keep in mind that it is an elegant place, so you better not go in flip flops and a tracksuit. At night they do jazz sessions and charge an extra entrance fee to attend (2,500 ¥, about € 20).

5. If you want to live an authentic Japanese culinary experience, go to the beautiful and photogenic Omoide Yokocho Alley, packed with tiny restaurants specializing in yakitori (Japanese skewers) and traditional izakayas. Don’t you know what an izakaya is? They are the typical Japanese taverns where people usually go to drink sake (or beer or higballs) and have a snack.

6. One of the areas with the most personality in Shinjuku is the labyrinthine Golden gai, with an underground roll that is very cool. There are several narrow streets with tiny places (some where no more than 4 or 5 people fit) where you can let yourself go no matter what time you return to your accommodation, or the shots of sake that you carry with you.

Omoide Yokocho Shinjuku Alley

7. Did you know that within Shinjuku is the Tokyo red light district? We talk about Kabukicho, full of love hotels (hotels by the hour where couples go to … get to know each other better) and shops not suitable for prudes XD In the past it was a somewhat murky area, but today it is super safe so do not hesitate to take a walk around there.

8. Another thing to see and do in Shinjuku is to look for the godzilla head popping up between the rooftops of skyscrapers (although don’t be afraid, it’s not dangerous!). Do you want a clue? Look for the Toho Cinema …

9. Dinner in a theme restaurant. One of the most famous is the Robot Restaurant It does not have the best gastronomy in the city but it is quite an experience thanks to the laser shows and robots! Keep in mind that it is expensive and a maximum touristy, but if you want to experience it … why not?

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10. The ideal is to visit the neighborhood at night and hallucinate with its lighting, but if for any reason you pass through here during the day, we recommend you visit the Shinjuku Gyoen Park, one of the most beautiful in Tokyo (and even more so if you visit the city during the spring, when the cherry trees are in bloom). The downside is that it is not free: 500 ¥. If you prefer a free alternative, almost better go to Shinjuku Central Park, which is located right in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

what to see and do in Shinjuku

11. Not everyone is neon in Shinjuku, there is also room for spirituality. Two places to check them are the Buddhist temple Taisoji Temple and the shinto shrine Hanazono Shrine.

12. Go to I-Land Tower and take a picture with the famous LO-VE sculpture.

13. The Shinjuku area also has a good handful of museums interesting We recommend two:

  • The Samurai Museum is a good place to learn more about these legendary figures. Price: 1,900 ¥.
  • The Yayoi Kusama Museum is a must for fans of this Japanese artist. Be careful, you have to book tickets online here (well in advance). The ticket costs 1,100 ¥.

14. To the north, near Kabukicho, is the neighborhood of Shin-Okubo, or for friends, the Korea-Town from Tokyo. Its appearance at first glance does not change much from the rest of the streets of Shinjuku, but as soon as you look you will see that it is full of Korean cosmetics stores, K-pop merchandising, and of course, typical restaurants from the neighboring country. It will be like taking an instant flight to Seoul.

15. And to top it off, we do it with another of the experiences to live in Japan: stay, at least one night, in a capsule hotel! In addition, Shinjuku is a good neighborhood to base yourself in Tokyo: its position is central and the gastronomy and leisure options, as you have seen, are almost endless. Here we tell you about our experience in a capsule hotel in Tokyo. These can be good alternatives:

what to see and do in Shinjuku

Shinjuku Map

We leave you a interactive map so you can see the locations and don’t miss anything:

We hope that our guide to things to see and do in Shinjuku you liked it and, although in the distance and through the screen, you have enjoyed this virtual tour of one of the most exciting neighborhoods in Tokyo.

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what to see and do in shinjuku

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