10 Best Things to do in Shinjuku

Tokyo by night Shinjuku Per area

Shinjuku is one of the biggest wards in Tokyo, and Shinjuku Station is known as being the busiest station in the world. It is used by over 3.5 million passengers every day, which is the equivalent to the population of Yokohama city! The modern part of Shinjuku is home to a high number of tourist attractions and skyscrapers, but on the other side, it also has several drinking spots as well. In this article, we will introduce some of the most famous tourist spots that include local bar areas, some beautiful nature, and even some spots with great views! 

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo Nightlife in Izakaya
Explore Shinjuku on this bar-hopping tour with a professional bilingual guide! Shinjuku is the biggest drinking town in ...

1. Shinjuku Izakaya Hopping Tour

Shinjuku is known as one of the biggest food and drink hubs in all of Japan. There are endless delicious eats and izakaya/bars where you can get your drink on through the late hours of the night. However, with so much selection, sometimes it can be a bit tough to decide where to go, especially if you don’t have a great command of Japanese. If you’re looking to check out the best spots in the area, we highly recommend taking a food and drink tour where your guide will take you to all the best spots and you can just relax and enjoy the stimulating and fun area that is Shinjuku!

▼Book our izakaya-hopping tour in Shinjuku!

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo Nightlife in Izakaya
Explore Shinjuku on this bar-hopping tour with a professional bilingual guide! Shinjuku is the biggest drinking town in ...
shinjuku-drinking-tour

2. Shinjuku Gyoen (National Garden)

Shinjuku Gyoen is a huge park that originally belonged to the Naito family during the Edo period. It served as a private residence, an imperial garden under the control of the Imperial Household Agency in 1906, and was finally opened to the public after World War II. There are a wide variety of flowers and plants which bloom throughout the year, and you can also enjoy 65 different kinds of cherry blossoms in spring, making it a very popular place for people to enjoy hanami (cherry blossom parties). It’s a perfect place to enjoy yourself peacefully, and walking around the garden will make you feel relaxed.

Shinjuku Gyoen
9am – 4pm Oct. 1st – Mar. 14
9am – 5.30pm Mar. 15 – Jun. 30 & Aug. 21 – Sep. 30
9am – 6.30pm Jul. 1st – Aug. 20
*closed on Monday
Admission ¥500

3. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the headquarters of the Tokyo metropolitan government and a well-known landmark in the Shinjuku area. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, a world-famous architect. The building is mostly open to the public except for a few select rooms and floors. The observation deck on the 45th floor offers you a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic view of the city! On sunny days, especially in winter when the air is clean, you can see Mt. Fuji in the distance! What’s more, it’s free to go up! You can take the elevator from the 1st floor to go up to the observation deck. Don’t be put off by the line of people waiting to go up, as it moves surprisingly fast!

Shinjuku Government Building Observatories
North Observatory 9.30am – 11pm 
South Observatory 9:30am – 5.30pm (until 11pm when North Observatory is closed) 
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time
Admission free of charge

shinjuku tokyo government building

4. Hanazono Shrine

Hanazono Shrine is a Shinto shrine that is said to have been built before the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled the country as a central authority for over 260 years from 1603. This shrine holds several events throughout the year, the most famous one is Tori no Ichi; an open-air market, also known as the rooster market, that takes place in November. During the festival, many stalls are on the street leading to the shrine, and you can buy decorated rakes or kumade which symbolize good luck with money and prosperity in business, as well as some food and snacks. They also host a flea market every Sunday, so it is still worth visiting even on normal weekends!

Hanazono Shrine Official Website (Japanese only)
Open 24 hours
Free admission

5. Samurai Museum *Temporarily Closed

It is only about an 8 minutes walk for you to get to this exciting museum featuring fascinating samurai exhibits. As a popular tourist spot, it offers several experiences which include getting your picture taken while wearing samurai helmets and armor. You can also participate in Japanese calligraphy lessons, where professional calligraphers teach you how to write Kanji with black ink and Japanese traditional paper called “Washi”. They also have Japanese sword lectures, which are fun for people of all ages! Music shows and sword performances are also available, so be sure to check out their website for more details!

Samurai Museum Official Website
10.30am – 9pm
Admission ¥1,900

Samurai Museum

6. Robot Restaurant *Closed

Once you visit their website, you will immediately see how unique and exciting this restaurant is. The Robot Restaurant is a unique themed restaurant that opened in 2012 and has been visited mainly by tourists from abroad. There are a lot of pictures of celebrities on the wall in the entrance, which gives you an idea of how popular and famous it is around the world. You can enjoy watching stunning robot shows full of bright lights, neon, and exciting music while having a drink! Everything is extremely flashy and impressive. Don’t forget your camera to shoot some great pictures! Unfortunately due to COVID, the restaurant is closed and it is not clear whether it will open up again or not.

Robot Restaurant

7. Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho

If you are looking for somewhere perfect to have dinner around Shinjuku station, we highly recommend you check out Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho. It is a narrow street full of small stalls all offering delicious food and drinks with a unique atmosphere. This area is originally where there were black markets post WWⅡ, and over 300 tiny bars/izakaya were established. They usually offered Yakitori(chicken skewers) and other delicious meat dishes as they were relatively affordable during the post-war recession. Yakitori is a simple dish, but the taste never disappoints, and… it goes really well with Japanese sake! It is a must-visit if you have never tried Yakitori before! 

If you want to make the most out of your time in Shinjuku, we recommend you to go on a guided tour! The guide will show you some great hidden izakaya, tell you the story behind the area and most importantly you will get to try the best yakitori! Read more about our bar hopping tour in Shinjuku!

Omoide Yokocho Shinjuku

8. Shinjuku Golden Gai

Shinjuku Golden Gai is another district for bar hopping located close to Hanazono Shrine. It is very popular among salarymen as a place to eat and drink after a long day at work. It has a similar history to Omoide Yokocho, and there are more than 200 tiny stalls and bars packed into a small area. Each bar has an intimate atmosphere with friendly staff and offers tourists a great opportunity to get to know the locals. As it gets pretty crowded at night and the capacity of each bar is small, make sure that you arrive there early in the evening. It is located rather close to Omoide Yokocho (8 min on foot), so we suggest you visit both and compare them while enjoying the different atmospheres!

Michael Vesia, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), via flickr

9. Kabukicho

Kabukicho is Tokyo’s red-light district where you can experience an interesting side of Japan’s nightlife. This area was developed to revitalize the Japanese economy after WWⅡ, and it rapidly became a popular attraction as it had a number of activities you could do and restaurants to eat and drink at. The area is known for all sorts of entertainment, from karaoke parlors to gaming arcades, as well as the famous Robot restaurant to the infamous love hotels. Some say it is not a suitable place for a family trip, but there are actually a lot of things to see during the daytime as well, making for a place anyone can enjoy! It is quite safe just like most other parts of Tokyo and Japan, but just be sure to use common sense; be careful at night, and stay away from shady areas and dodgy looking stores.

kabukicho

10. Godzilla head

Another iconic and must see spot in Shinjuku is the giant Godzilla head in Kabukicho. It is actually a part of Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and you can stay here with a view of the monster right outside your room! It’s a pretty amazing sight to see up close and personal and pictures don’t do it justice when it comes to how big the head actually is. Walking through the busy streets and admiring the legendary beast is something you don’t want to miss when in the area.

Want to stay in this unique hotel? Book here!

amika_san, (CC BY-ND 2.0), via flickr

Where to stay in Shinjuku?

  1. Book and Bed Shinjuku – a cozy hostel with friendly staff and many books
  2. ONSEN RYOKAN YUEN SHINJUKU – a more traditional Japanese hotel, including an onsen
  3. Hotel Gracery Shinjuku – This is the famous Godzilla hotel, where you can stay in a room with the beast right outside your window

What do you think, will you be checking out the stimulating and lively Shinjuku area? With endless things to do during the day and particularly at night, there is something to do no matter your interests. We hope you learned a thing or two about the area and will make the best use of our list of the best things to do in Shinjuku!

Best Tours in Shinjuku

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo Nightlife in Izakaya
Explore Shinjuku on this bar-hopping tour with a professional bilingual guide! Shinjuku is the biggest drinking town in ...
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Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo, where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English-speaking guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo’s Nightlife in Izakaya
Check out the best spots in Shinjuku while bar hopping through the lively and vibrant area. Try some delicious local food and drink as you explore the narrow yet photogenic alleys that the town has to offer. Experience Japanese izakaya culture and drink in Shinjuku like the locals!

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