Nishi Shinjuku(West) is a business district

Shinjuku (新宿) is a central ward of Tokyo, known as the metropolis' second center (副都心, fukutoshin). The area surrounding Shinjuku Station is a huge business, commercial, and entertainment center located atop the world's busiest railway station complex. To the north lies Takadanobaba, where students from nearby Waseda University cross paths. The residential areas of Yotsuya and Ichigaya, with their many small restaurants and drinking establishments, lie to the east. Kagurazaka, one of Tokyo's last remaining hanamachi (geisha districts), is also home to some of the city's most authentic French and Italian restaurants. Over 300,000 people including nearly 30,000 foreign residents call Shinjuku their home, and the city offers a wide variety of options for work or play.


The west side of Shinjuku, a seismically stable area that escaped the last earthquake with nary a scratch, is Tokyo's skyscraper district featuring (among others) the gargantuan Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices and the curved form and webbed façade of the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower.

The east side of Shinjuku is devoted to shopping and nightlife, including Tokyo's largest red-light district Kabukicho (歌舞伎町) and gay nightlife central Shinjuku ni-chōme (新宿2丁目).

Nearby Ōkubo (大久保), one stop west of Shinjuku on the Chuo line (also Shin-Ōkubo, on the Yamanote), has many Korean-owned restaurants and grocery stores. Takadanobaba (高田馬場), the next stop on the Yamanote Line after Shin-Ōkubo, is popular with students from nearby Waseda University.

Kabukicho is an entertainment district

Get in

By plane

The fastest way to reach Shinjuku from Narita Airport is to take the Keisei Skyliner train and change at Nippori to the JR Yamanote Line (which can be very crowded at peak hours, making it inconvenient to haul luggage). This takes approximately 65 minutes with transfer and costs ¥2590. JR's Narita Express offers a one-seat ride to Shinjuku, but it takes longer (85 minutes) and costs more (¥3110), although for foreigners the cost can be brought down to ¥2000 each way by purchasing a N'EX Tokyo Round-Trip Ticket.

Budget travelers can use the regular Keisei Line commuter train to Nippori and change to the Yamanote Line (Approx. 105 minutes, ¥1190). In the evenings, faster Access Tokkyu trains from Narita Airport to Nippori shave 20 minutes off the overall travel time against an extra charge of ¥200. The JR Yokosuka-Sōbu Line also has stations at both Narita terminals.

Limousine buses run frequently from Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station's west exit and to area hotels (Approx. 2 hours, ¥3000).

Passengers coming from Haneda Airport can take trains on the Keikyu and Yamanote lines, changing at Shinagawa (45 minutes, ¥590). Limousine buses also run on this route (50 minutes, ¥1230).

By train

Train is the obvious option for arrival, as Shinjuku Station is on the JR Yamanote, Chuo, Sobu, Saikyo, and Shonan-Shinjuku lines. Subway service is provided by the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi and Fukutoshin lines and the Toei Shinjuku and Ōedo lines. There are also terminal stations for the Keio, Odakyu and Seibu Shinjuku private railway lines.

Guinness World Records recognises Shinjuku Station as the busiest railway station in the world: More than 3.8 million passengers pass through each day. If you doubt this, try to board the Marunouchi line towards Tokyo Station at 8:00 on a Monday morning. The station is a sight in itself, effectively forming a giant multi-level warren of department stores, restaurants, commercial buildings, railway facilities and underground shopping malls which radiate out for kilometers under the surrounding area.

By bus

Keio, JR, and Odakyu operate highway buses from Shinjuku. There are also a large variety of night buses that arrive from all over Honshu. JR buses are centered around the New South Exit (新南口 shin-minami-guchi). Odakyu buses arrive and depart in front of Odakyu Halc, and Keio buses arrive and depart in front of Yodobashi Camera's main branch. Various other highway and tour buses stop near the Subaru building.

Airport limousine buses from Narita (¥3,100, roughly 100 min.) and Haneda (¥1,200, 50 min) stop at the station and at all major hotels in Shinjuku, but are prone to traffic delays.


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden





Department Stores



Major discount camera stores are concentrated on both sides of Shinjuku station, although there is a particularly large cluster just outside the West Exit. The undisputed king Yodobashi has branches on practically every block; note that the branches specialize, so you may have to look for the right branch to find what interests you (digital cameras, video cameras, medium-format photography, etc.). The other major name is Bic camera. This store have been transformed by computers and the Internet, and their computer departments match Akihabara in volume, price, and selection.

Variety Goods




A great way to get by in Tokyo on a budget is to make lunch your main meal. Many restaurants cater to the business lunch crowd and offer an excellent two or three course meal for between ¥800-1300. Going to the same places for dinner would be up to three times more expensive.





The gate to Kabukichō at night

The Kabukichō (歌舞伎町) district, to the northeast of JR Shinjuku station, is Tokyo's most notorious red-light district - although during the daytime you might not even notice, especially if you can't decode the elaborate Japanese codewords on the billboards. At night it's a different story though, as sharkskin-suited junior yakuza gangsters hustle and girls in miniskirts beckon customers amid the adults-only vending machines. Night or day, it's always packed with people, and until recently quite a bit of gangland violence went on in the vicinity (though at any rate outsiders are generally not involved).

To the south of Kabuki-cho is Shinjuku ni-chome (新宿2丁目), Tokyo's largest gay district.

Golden Gai (ゴールデン街) is the name given to a few narrow alleys in a block on the east edge of Kabukicho. It's packed with tiny aging "hole-in-the-wall" bars and started as a red light district some decades ago; morphing into some sort of a subversive hangout; and finally now into an odd assortment of tiny bars (some up very steep steps.) The irony of the place is that while it has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, many of the bars rely on regulars, so strangers wandering in may receive either a frosty reception, cover charge or both. If the door is open and you get a smile go in, it's an experience not to be had anywhere else. Many of the bars have karaoke and ancient mama-sans, while one has an old man who speaks Spanish and plays flamenco videos on a tiny black and white TV, and who occasionally plays guitar; another has a great collection of jazz music. Some places charge extra for karaoke with coin machines or a surcharge added to the bill while others, such as Bar K, have it available for free. Be aware that commercial photography in some parts of the Golden Gai is prohibited without permission.

On the west side of the Yamanote tracks, Omoide Yokochō (思い出横丁, "Memory Lane") is a small alley filled with yakitori joints. Omoide Yokochō is also sometimes referred to as gokiburi yokochō (cockroach alley) or shomben yokochō (piss alley - no prizes for guessing why).

Once you get beyond Omoide Yokochō into the skyscrapers of West Shinjuku, the nightlife pretty much dies out, with the solitary exception of what is probably Tokyo's best-known bar among foreigners:


Oddly, there are few nightclubs left in Shinjuku, perhaps due to the price of real estate. Liquid Room, once one of the Tokyo's best-known party places, decamped to Ebisu several years ago.


Pubs and taverns





The western side of Shinjuku has a notable concentration of luxury hotels and great views over the city. Most hotels cater for business travellers and their needs.

Night view Club on the Park on 47th floor of Park Hyatt Tokyo



Go next

Routes through Shinjuku

Nagoya Tokyo/Nakano  W  E  END
Tokyo/Suginami Tokyo/Nakano  W  E  Tokyo/Shibuya Tokyo/Chiyoda
Hon-Kawagoe TokorozawaTanashi  W  E  END
Ogikuo Nakano-Sakaue  W  E  Akasaka Mituke Ginza
Hashimoto Tama center ← into Sasazuka  W  E  JinbochoIwamotocho Sumiyoshi
Toshimaen NerimaHigashi Nakano  W  E  RoppongiShiodome Tsukiji Market

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.