Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s – and Japan’s – busiest areas, acting as an office town, a shopping district, a center for urban culture and lifestyle, and thus a prime tourist destination. In the center of all of this is Shinjuku Station, a massive hub that connects five railroads and people from all over the country.
Giant shopping malls border the enormous station, as well as Kabukicho, Tokyo’s most famous red-light district. Towering home electronics stores sell state-of-the-art electronics to locals and tourists alike - and everything is connected by a vast underground network of exits, arcades, and tunnels, all belonging to Shinjuku Station. The hub deserves its reputation as a labyrinth of over 200 exits that, at times, can be seemingly impossible to navigate.
Let's start to unravel this large spiderweb that is Shinjuku Station's structure and directions first.
1) Shinjuku Station - Overview
―― Guinness World Record Holder as The Busiest Station in the World
Shinjuku Station is officially the busiest station in the entire world. With a daily average of roughly 3.42 million passengers in 2015, the station is certified in the Guinness Book of World Records.
―― Over 200 Exits and Ticket Gates
On the east side of Shinjuku JR Station are the Odakyu lines and the Keio lines. They are the prime lines that take Tokyoites and tourists to famous sightseeing areas in Kanagawa, such as Hakone and Odawara.
Furthermore, the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line can be found on the north side of the station, while the Toei Oedo Line and the Shinjuku Line are on its southwest side. All of those sub-stations are connected by passageways.
Above ground are a total of 7 station buildings, including the JR Lumine Department Store, the Odakyu Department Store, and the Keio Department Store. Various malls are situated underground, along with souvenir stores, station concourses, and numerous restaurants. Ticket gates and exits are scattered throughout the entire complex, and including the exits from underground to above ground, station buildings and more, the number of Shinjuku Station's exits is said to be over 200.
―― Over 30 Platforms, 16 at JR Alone
Shinjuku Station is located in the southwestern part of the Shinjuku area and is only 800 meters away from Shibuya's Yoyogi Station. If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear Yoyogi Station's announcements on the JR platforms 5 and 6.
Next to the Yamanote and Chuo Line, the JR lines include the Sobu Line, the Saikyo Line, the Shonan Shinjuku Line, the Narita Express, and much more. In total, 16 platforms make up the Shinjuku JR Station.
Between the ticket gates and platforms, it is possible to walk four main streets: the North Passage (underground), the Central Passage (underground) the South Concourse (above ground), and the Busta Shinjuku (Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal) / JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower Overpass.
2) Shinjuku Station's Main Lines and their Platforms and Destinations
The lines going to and from Shinjuku Station are the JR lines, the Odakyu lines, the Keio lines, the Tokyo Metro lines, and the Toei lines. Shinjuku Station is a prime hub for getting to other destinations within Tokyo, for going to the greater area and neighboring prefectures, and for transferring.
■ JR East's lines, platforms, and destinations ↓
■ Odakyu, Keio, Tokyo Metro, and Toei lines, platforms, and destinations ↓
3) East, South, West - Shinjuku Statin's Three Main Exits
- Shinjuku East Exit: for Studio ALTA and Kabukicho.
- Shinjuku South Exit: for Busta Shinjuku, Shinjuku Takashimaya, and more.
- Shinjuku West Exit: for Yodobashi Camera and other electronic and home appliance stores.
4) Station Exit and Destination List
If you arrive at Shinjuku Station via any JR line and you want to go towards the east or west exit, go underground from the platform and pass through the ticket gates via the North Passage or the Central Passage.
If you are headed for the South Exit, go up the stairs in the center of the platform and head for the South Concourse or the Busta Shinjuku / JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower Overpass, which will lead you to the ticket gates.
■ East Exit levels, passages, and main destinations ↓
■ South Exit levels, passages, and main destinations ↓
■ West Exit levels, passages, and main destinations ↓
5) The East Exit: Kabukicho, Studio ALTA, Bicqlo, and Isetan
The Shinjuku Station East Exit encompasses both the JR East Exit ticket gates and the Central East Exit ticket gates. They are connected by an underground passage, so it doesn't matter through which one you leave.
■ How to get to the East Exit from the JR Lines
From any JR line, go downstairs from the platform and traverse the North Passage. This will lead you to the East Exit ticket gates.
The Central Passage will lead you to the Central East Exit ticket gates. If you come from there, go left and through the Alps Square to exit the station before the East Exit ticket gates.
Go up the stairs here and you will find yourself standing in front of Studio ALTA. A golden lion statue stands in the middle of the center square roundabout, acting as a landmark.
■ How to get to the East Exit from the Odakyu Lines
From the Odakyu lines, head to the yellow ticket gate at the Central Underground Connection Port of the Odakyu Shinjuku Station. Then, cross the Central Passage of JR Station and leave via the Central East Exit ticket gate. You can use the same ticket for both the Odakyu and the JR ticket gate in this case.
■ How to get to the East Exit from the Keio Lines
Go through the blue JR ticket gates right next to Keio Department Store ticket gates. Then, follow the Central Passage of JR Station and leave via the Central East Exit ticket gate.
Just like from the Odakyu lines, be careful not to exit via the JR East Exit ticket gates.
■ How to get to the East Exit from the Tokyo Metro Lines
After passing through the ticket gate, use the A8 / A9 exit to get to JR East Exit and Central East Exit. Take exit B13 to get to Studio ALTA.
6) The South Exit: Busta Shinjuku and Shinjuku Takashimaya
The South Exit of Shinjuku Station leads to the Koshu Kaido, or the Koshu Highway, with numerous exits leading to this very road.
In 2016, the South Exit got a lot more busy with the opening of both Busta Shinjuku, the largest high-speed bus terminal in Japan, and NEWoMan, a shopping facility targeting female shoppers.
■ How to get to the South Exit from the JR Lines
Go up the stairs in the center of the platform and follow the South Exit Concourse to reach both the South Exit and the Southeast Exit ticket gates.
If you follow the southernmost staircase on the platform, you'll get to the Busta Shinjuku / JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower Overpass. It will lead you to the Koshu Kaido ticket gates, the Miraina Tower ticket gates, and the Shinnan ticket gates.
Especially the latter one is a wonderful meeting spot as a big Suica Penguin stands at the Shinnan ticket gates, greeting travelers and commuters.
■ How to get to the South Exit from the Odakyu Lines
Take the stairs at the southern end of the platform. On the second floor are the South Exit ticket gates. You can leave the station a little west of JR's south exit.
■ How to get to the South Exit from the Keio Lines
Go up the stairs at the southern end of the platform to the ground level and use the Lumine Exit ticket gates. If you go up the stairs one more time, you can leave via the JR South Exit area for the Koshu Highway.
■ How to get to the South Exit from the Tokyo Metro Lines
Take exit A9 at the JR East Exit, leave the station and head south.
The Toei Oedo Line and the Toei Shinjuku Line are on the southwest side of Shinjuku Station. Transfer to JR lines, Odakyu lines, and Keio lines is possible with a short 5-minute walk via underground passages.
7) The West Exit: Government Buildings and Large Electronics Stores
Shinjuku Station's West Exit is the access point to the many massive electronics stores and the Shinjuku of skyscrapers and government buildings.
The JR lines, Odakyu lines, Keio lines all have ticket gates facing the vast open space that is the Shinjuku Station West Exit Underground Passage.
■ How to get to the West Exit from the JR Lines
Simply follow the underground Nothern Passage to the West Exit ticket gates, or take the underground Central Passage to get to the Cental West Exit ticket gates (exit only).
■ How to get to the West Exit from the Odakyu Lines
After exiting via the West Exit Underground ticket gate, go straight ahead in the direction of the JR West Exit ticket gate and the underground passage. Leave via the West Exit Above Ground ticket gate and go left to get to the West Exit Rotary outside of the station.
■ How to get to the West Exit from the Keio Lines
Go via the JR West Exit ticket gates and the West Exit Underground Passage to get to the Keio West Exit ticket gates.
Another option is the special, time-limited Plaza Exit and the Special Exit, leading you to pretty much the same place.
If you want to directly head to the Keio Department Store, we highly recommend the convenient Keio Department Store ticket gates, leading you right to the shopping facility.
■ How to get to the West Exit from the Tokyo Metro Lines
The exits A10 to A15 will lead you to the JR West Exit ticket gates and the Odakyu Department Store, while B16 / 18 are the most convenient exits for Odakyu HALC.
To get to Shinjuku's district full of large electronics stores, you need to walk around the big rotary at Shinjuku Station's West Exit. The best way to get there is via the West Exit Underground Passage.
As the station does seem like a maze at times, do make sure to keep an eye on the many helpful signs above your head. If you're lost. they'll make navigating Shinjuku Station a lot easier.
8) Going to Hakone and Mount Takao via Shinjuku Station
■ To Hakone
Hakone is a popular tourist area not far from Tokyo, famous for its many hot springs and onsen resorts. Odakyu's Romance Car express train will take you right to Hakone Yumoto Station from Shinjuku Station in merely 85 minutes.
If you are transferring to the Odakyu line from a JR line, already have a Romance Car ticket, or travel via Suica or Pasmo, head west from the underground Central Passage. Then, enter via the Odakyu Line ticket gates and continue to platform 2 and 3.
If you don't have a ticket yet, head out via the JR South Exit ticket gates at the South Exit Concourse and immediately turn right to the Odakyu Line's South Exit ticket gate and its ticket vending machines.After passing the gates, move on the right side to follow stairs downstairs to platform 2 and 3.
■ To Mount Takao
The Takaosanguchi Station is the closest station to Mount Takao, one of the major natural sightseeing spots in West Tokyo. From Shinjuku Station, we recommend the Keio Line express train to Takaosanguchi Station, taking 47 minutes without any transfer.
Coming from JR lines, follow the passage between the JR Central West Exit and the Odakyu Exit ticket gates to get to the Keio Line ticket gates.
If you don't have a ticket yet, you can find vending machines at the ticket gates.
■ To Narita Airport, Izu and Atami, and Odawara
The JR Shinjuku Station's platforms 5 and 6 are home to the Narita Express bound for Narita Airport and the Superview Odoriko, an express train bound for Izu and Atami.
If you change at the JR station, you can find platforms 5 and 6 at the south side of Shinjuku Station. It might be a bit hard to get there, as they are not directly connected to the North Passage, the Central Passage, and the South Exit Concourse.
First of all, head south on your platform and descend to platform 5 and 6 via the Busta Shinjuku / JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower Overpass. This transfer may take up to 10 minutes, depending on which platform you arrive at.
※The given information is from May 2017.
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