Shinjuku is a special ward in Tokyo, which is well known for the busiest station in the world. It is used by over 3.5 million passengers that is equivalent to the population of Yokohama city, one of the biggest cities in Japan, every day. The modern area 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 including local bar areas where you can enjoy Japanese cuisine and drinks!
1. Shinjuku Gyoen (National Garden)
Shinjuku Gyoen is a huge park which originally belonged to Naito family in Edo era. It has served as a private residence, an imperial garden under the control of the Imperial Household Agency in 1906, and was finally opened to public after World WarⅡ. There is a wide variety of flowers and plants which bloom throughout year, and you can also enjoy 65 different kinds of cherry blossoms in spring! Making it a very popular place for people to enjoy ohanami (cherry blossom party!) It is definitely a perfect place to have a peaceful time, and just walking around the garden will makes you feel relax.
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
2. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the headquarters of the Tokyo metropolitan government, and a well-known landmark in Shinjuku area. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, a world-famous architect. The building is open to public except specific rooms and floors and in fact one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area! This because of its observation deck on the 45th floor which offers you a breathtaking 360 view of Tokyo! On sunny days especially in winter when the air is clean, you can see Mt. Fuji in a distance! Best of it all: it is 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, 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
3. Hanazono Shrine
Hanazono shrine is a Shinto shrine which is said to be built before the establishment of Tokugawa shogunate. The Tokugawa Shogunate ruled the country as a central authority over 260 years from 1603. this shrine holds several annual events throughout the year, the most famous one is being Torino ichi; an open-air market, also known as rooster market, taking place in November. During the festival, a many of stalls are on the street leading to the shrine, and you can buy decorated rakes or kumade which symbolise 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
4. Samurai Museum
It takes only 8 minutes for you to get to the exiting museum featuring fascinating exhibitions of samurai. As a popular tourist spot, it offers several experiences which includes taking photos 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 will be definitely exciting even for adults! Music shows and sword performances are also available, so please go to their website for more details!
Samurai Museum Official Website
10.30am – 9pm
5. Robot Restaurant
Once you visit their website, you will immediately see how unique and exciting they are. Robot Restaurant is an incomparable themed restaurant which opened in 2012, and has been visited mostly by increasing number of tourists from other countries. There are a lot of pictures of celebrities on the wall at the entrance hall, which tells how famous it is around the world. You can enjoy watching stunning robot shows full of bright lights, neon, and exciting music while having some drink! Everything is so flashy and impressive. Don’t forget your camera to shoot some great pictures!
- 1st show – 4pm (doors open 3pm)
- 2nd show – 5.55pm (doors open 5pm)
- 3rd show – 7.50pm (doors open 7pm)
- 4th show – 9.45pm (doors open 9pm)
6. Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho
If you are looking for somewhere perfect to have dinner around Shinjuku station, we highly recommend you to go to 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 black markets were held after Japan was defeated in WWⅡ, and there were over 300 tiny bars / izakaya to be found here. They usually offered Yakitori (chicken skewers) and other delicious meats as they were relatively affordable during the post war recession. Yakitori is a quite simple dish, but the taste never disappoints and… it goes really well with sake! It is a must-visit if you have never tried Yakitori before!
To make most out of your experience and making sure you eat all the delicious things that are offered, 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 important: will have you try the best yakitori! Read more about our bar hopping tour in Shinjuku!
7. Shinjuku Golden Gai
Shinjuku Golden Gai is another district for a bar hopping located close to Hanazono shrine. It is very popular among salary man and career women to end their day of hard work at one of the many izakaya here. It has a similar history to Omoide Yokocho, and there are more than 200 tiny stalls and bars packed in a small area. Each bar has an intimate atmosphere with the friendly staff and offers tourists a great opportunity to get to know local people. As it gets easily crowded at night and the capacity of each bar is small, make sure that you arrive there early evening. Some bars only allow locals, in this case it will be mentioned clearly and please respect this. It is located rather close to Omoide Yokocho (8 min on foot), we suggest you visit both and compare them while enjoying the different atmosphere!
Kabukicho is Tokyo’s red-light district where you can experience Japan’s crazy side of the nightlife. It was developed to revitalise the Japanese economy after WWⅡ, and it rapidly became a popular attraction with a number of activities and restaurants. The area is known for all sorts of entertainment, from karaoke parlours to love hotels, from the famous Robot restaurant to the infamous love hotels. Some say it is not a suitable place for family trip or females, but there are a lot of things to see even during daytime, regardless of age or gender! It is quite safe just like other areas in Japan, just use your common sense; be careful at night and stay away from shady areas and dodgy stores.
Don’t forget to check out our private tour!
If you need some help to organize your trip to Shinjuku, you should definitely check out our private tour including English guide. We’re glad to help you make your trip to Shinjuku a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memory!
- Shinjuku Biggest Drinking Town Izakaya Hopping Tour (Evening Tour)
Explore some Izakaya districts with our knowledgeable guide while enjoying delicious food and tasty sake!
- Tokyo Half Day West Tokyo Private Walking Tour (4 Hours)
Private tour which covers not only Shinjuku but also some other famous areas such as Shibuya and Harajuku!
- Shinjuku Evening Highlight Spot Tour
A short evening tour in Shinjuku to enjoy small bars and walking around the area.
Where to stay in Shinjuku?
- nine hours Shinjuku-North – a hotel that offers the famous capsule rooms
- Book and Bed Shinjuku – a cozy hostel with friendly staff and many books
- ONSEN RYOKAN YUEN SHINJUKU – a more traditional Japanese hotel, including an onsen
This was our list of favourite places to go in the lively Shinjuku area. We introduced some drinking spots in Shinjuku, but that doesn’t mean it is an exclusive area only for people who love drinking. There is also a wide variety of attractions and entertainment which will offer you memorable experiences!
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