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Complete Shinjuku Guide: 14 Must-Visit Shops & More in Tokyo's Gleaming Heart

Complete Shinjuku Guide: 14 Must-Visit Shops & More in Tokyo's Gleaming Heart

Date published: 20 January 2020
Last updated: 21 April 2020

Outside the labyrinth-like Shinjuku Station - one of the world's busiest train stations - you will find lots of entertainment areas like Kabukicho and Golden Gai with their many restaurants. But even here in the midst of this bustling city you will find an oasis of tranquility in Shinjuku Gyoen so rich in natural beauty. There are all sorts of ways that you can enjoy these areas.

Shinjuku is the perfect town to either spend your time shopping or just leisurely having fun. In this article we will introduce places to see in Shinjuku that are brimming with attractions.

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Shinjuku Station East Exit Area, the perennial meeting place
  2. 2. Kabukicho area: Japan's most famous entertainment district
  3. 3. Golden Gai Bar Area: Immersed in local culture
  4. 4. Skyscraper District: Tall buildings populate the Shinjuku Station West Exit Area
  5. How to get to Shinjuku from Narita Airport and Tokyo Station

Shinjuku can be divided into four main areas. We will tell you about the unique features of each and what to see in them.

1. Shinjuku Station East Exit Area, the perennial meeting place

1. Shinjuku Station East Exit Area, the perennial meeting place
This is the place where young people like to meet. Paolo Gianti / Shutterstock.com

Shinjuku Station East Exit is a popular meeting place. Shinjuku-dori with its popular apparel shops runs in front of the East Exit making it the perfect area for shopping.

And if you go to the underground shopping mall in the Shinjuku Isetan Department Store you will find Western and Japanese confectionery as well as souvenirs. Right next to the Isetan is Shinjuku Gyoen, an urban oasis full of natural beauty.

Shinjuku Gyoen

About 65 species and 1,000 cherry trees are in full bloom in spring

Shinjuku Gyoen is a national park. Boasting a vast area of 58.3 hectares and a surrounding area of 3.5 kilometers, it is one of the few modern western gardens in Japan, combining landscape gardens, formal gardens and Japanese gardens.

Avenue of trees in autumn

You can enjoy the cherry blossoms in the spring and autumn leaves in the fall. If you go in late autumn, you can see both cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. In addition, you can see a variety of seasonal plants, and there is a large greenhouse where you can see tropical plants and endangered Japanese plants.

Traditional Japanese garden

Shinjuku Gyoen is a veritable urban oasis where you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in a relaxed and tranquil natural setting. The park is very large so there are places in it where you can stop and rest. It would be very easy to spend an entire day here.

BicCamera and UNIQLO collaboration, Bicqlo @ BicCamera @ Shinjuku East Exit Store

Bicqlo is a Shinjuku landmark

Bicqlo is a collaborative store between Bic Camera, a large electronics store, and Uniqlo, famous for its casual fashions. There are three floors in the basement and six above ground. The first to third floors house UNIQLO, where you can get low-priced, high-quality casual fashion. Bic Camera occupies the basement floors and floors four through six above ground. It boasts a rich assortment of products, including the latest home appliances, daily necessities, and sports equipment.

Communication is not a problem because staff members speak English, Chinese, and Korean. Also, in addition to various credit cards and electronic money, settlement with Bitcoin is also possible.

2. Kabukicho area: Japan's most famous entertainment district

2. Kabukicho area: Japan's most famous entertainment district
Kabukicho with its dazzling neon lights Luciano Mortula-LGM / Shutterstock.com

Kabukicho is known as one of the leading entertainment districts in Japan and Asia. Here are some of the highlights and recommended shops of Kabukicho, a night town loaded with restaurants, movie theaters, host clubs and cabaret clubs.

  • Kabukicho
    • Address Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0021
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Chuo Main Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Toei Shinjuku Line / Toei Oedo Line / Keio Line / Keio New Line / Odakyu Odawara Line)

Don Quijote @ Shinjuku East Exit Main Store

Don Quijote in Shinjuku Kabukicho, Shinjuku East Exit Main Store Hannari_eli / Shutterstock.com

Don Quijote is a discount store open 24 hours a day. With stores all over the country, there isn't a Japanese who is not familiar with it. It offers a wide variety of foods, household goods, appliances, brand name goods, and party goods, making it the perfect place to shop for souvenirs. This is one place you will definitely want to visit.

One reason why it is so popular is the services provided for foreign tourists. There is also a tax exemption service, and foreign currencies (banknotes only) of US dollars, RMB, Euros, Thai baht, Korean won, Hong Kong dollars and Taiwan dollars can be used for making purchases. Payment can also be made using credit cards, UnionPay card, and Alipay. It also offers an airport delivery service.

Robot Restaurant

Robot Restaurant is an entertainment spot unique to Japan @ TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock.com

This is a night spot where you can watch shows by giant robots and dancers dressed in flashy costumes. As an entertainment spot unique to Japan, it has gained popularity with foreigners and a wide range of people.

Even the neon gate and the lounge are gorgeously decorated, making you feel as if you have entered another world. This glittering image perfectly epitomizes Kabukicho. You can enjoy hard and soft drinks and snacks while watching the show. Sushi and boxed meals are also available, but reservations need to be made for them in advance.

The ticket counter also has information in English so purchasing tickets should not be a problem. Since there are many foreign tourists, the official website is also in English, so if you want to know more detailed information, please refer to the official website.

  • Robot Restaurant
    Robot Restaurant
    ロボットレストラン
    • Address Shinjuku robot building B2,1-7-7, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0021
    • Nearest Station Seibu-Shinjuku Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line)

3. Golden Gai Bar Area: Immersed in local culture

3. Golden Gai Bar Area: Immersed in local culture
The number of shops in Golden Gai you can easily enter has steadily increased Richie Chan / Shutterstock.com

Golden Gai, located at 1-chome Kabukicho, has lots of places to eat and drink. There are about 200 bars noted for their local color. The area got its start as a black market after the war, and then during the 1950s during Japan’s economic recovery it became the favorite haunt of authors, artists, film directors, and other cultural icons where lively discussions were often held.

In the past, many of the bars and clubs were open only to recognized patrons, but in recent years more and more have opened their doors to anyone wishing to enter. In addition, optional tours to the area has led to a rapid increase in the number of foreign visitors.

If you go to Golden Gai, you will discover the charm of local cultures in Tokyo and Shinjuku. This is a place where office workers like to gather after hours and as such, it is a place where you can easily engage in conversation with them making it a great place for cultural exchanges. It is only a 5-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome Station.

4. Skyscraper District: Tall buildings populate the Shinjuku Station West Exit Area

4. Skyscraper District: Tall buildings populate the Shinjuku Station West Exit Area
Cluster of high-rise office buildings

The Shinjuku Station West Exit area is an office district lined with skyscrapers and has a different feel than that of the East Exit. Here are some of the highlights, such as shrines and superb sights, that can be seen in the West Exit area.

Urban oasis @ Hanazono Shrine

Hanazono Shrine is famous for being an urban oasis

Hanazono Shrine, located in Shinjuku, Japan's premier entertainment district, is a shrine with a long history as the overall guardian of Shinjuku since the Edo period.

The festival called Tori no Ichi [Market of the Cock] is a famous market held on the Day of the Cock in November that attracts 600,000 people every year. The Tori no Ichi is unusual yet nostalgic with its many stalls selling Kazari Kuma no Te, decorative rakes considered bringers of good fortune in business. Many people flock here to view the items displayed as well as purchase them.

  • Hanazono Jinja
    • Address Shinjuku 5-17-3, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0022
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku-Sanchome Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Toei Shinjuku Line)
    • Phone Number 03-3209-5265

Tokyo Metropolitan Government: Shinjuku scenic spot

The observatory offers a spectacular view of Tokyo

The observation deck on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1 is one of the sightseeing spots in Tokyo. On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji in the distance and at night the glittering lights of the city make this a popular sightseeing spot. Being able to see such a superb view for free is another reason why the observatory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is so popular.

You can also tour the Second Central Office and the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Room without a reservation. The central government office has works such as sculptures and reliefs, and you can enjoy not only works of contemporary artists but also those submitted through public invitation. Inside you will find useful information for sightseeing in Japan, such as the Tokyo Tourism Information Center and the National Tourism Promotion Corner.

Juniso Shinjuku Kumano Shrine: Tranquility among a cluster of office buildings

Kumano Shrine against the background of office buildings

Kumano Shrine is a shrine adjacent to Shinjuku Central Park and is known as the overall guardian of Shinjuku. Standing in a skyscraper district, you can get a different perspective of Shinjuku in this very quiet atmosphere.

Kumano Shrine is a very old shrine tracing its beginnings back to the Muromachi era and is where the gods Kushimikeno and Izanami are enshrined. If you like shrines and temples, then please be sure to visit here.

It is also known that members of the Nadeshiko Japan women's national soccer team that won the 2011 FIFA World Cup visited here before they departed Japan and purchased Yatagarasu [mythological three-legged crow] amulets reputed to bring luck in competitions.

  • Kumano Shrine
    新宿十二社 熊野神社
    • Address 2-11-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo
    • Nearest Station 5-Minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station
      From the No. 16 and 17 boarding areas in the Shinjuku Station West Exit Bus Terminal
      Going to Eifukucho, Koseikai Cathedral, or Shibuya
      Get off at Juni-sha Ike no Shita.

      4-minute walk from the A1 Exit of the Nishi-Shinjuku 5-chome Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
      5-minute walk from the A5 Exit of the Tocho-mae Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
      13-minute walk from the E4 Exit of the Nishi-Shinjuku Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line.

The above are some of the attractions and highlights of the different areas of Shinjuku. Shinjuku is the best entertainment area in Japan, but as you can see, it actually has various sides to it. Not only shopping spots, such as Don Quijote and Bicqlo, but also many places where you can spend time leisurely, such as in Shinjuku Gyoen and at Shinto shrines.

How to get to Shinjuku from Narita Airport and Tokyo Station

Lastly, we will tell you how to get from Narita Airport, frequently used by foreign visitors to Japan, and Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station. Narita Airport and Shinjuku Station are quite far apart and there are several ways to access them, so choose the way that works best for you.

Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station: ① Narita Express

The recommended access method for those who want to go non-stop is the Narita Express. The journey takes 1 hour and 13 minutes and the fare is 3,190 yen.

Narita Airport to Shinjuku Station: ➁ Keisei Skyliner, Keisei Main Line

There are transfers, but the advantage is that it is cheaper than using the Narita Express, if you are not using a Japan Rail Pass. The route to the JR Nippori Station on the Keisei Skyliner and then to Shinjuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line takes 1 hour and 2 minutes, and the fare is 2,720 yen (2,705 yen using IC). The route to the JR Nippori Station on the Keisei Main Line and then to Shinjuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line takes 1 hour and 39 minutes, and the fare is 1,250 yen (1,240 yen using IC).

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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