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Tokyo/Shinjuku

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East Asia : Japan : Kanto : Tokyo (prefecture) : Tokyo : Shinjuku
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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.

Understand

Kabukicho is an entertainment district

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.

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. 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 the cost for foreigners can be brought down with the purchase of a Suica & N'EX 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-Sobu 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, ¥1200).

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.

See

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center (都庁 tochō), 2-8-1 Nishi-Shinjuku (Metro Tochōmae E-28), [1]. The two enormous buildings of this giant hive of bureaucracy are an Orwellian architectural masterpiece designed by noted architect Kenzo Tange. The main reasons to come here, though, are the twin observatories. At a height of 202 m on the 45th floor, they have some of the best views of Tokyo. The North Observatory is open daily from 9:30 AM to 11:00 PM (closed second and fourth Mondays of each month), while the South Observatory is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (until 11PM on the days the North Observatory is closed; closed on the first and third Tuesdays of each month). Last entry is 30 minutes before closing. Free.
  • NTT DoCoMo Building (sometimes called DoCoMo Tower). This gigantic tower resembling a granite Empire State Building, south of the station, is owned by NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest cell-phone carrier. The upper part of the building is a mobile communications tower.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑), (a ten-minute walk east from JR Shinjuku station), [2]. A large public garden, and one of the most popular places for viewing cherry blossoms in the spring. It has Japanese, English, and French gardens, as well as Taiwanese teahouse and a botanical conservatory. The entrance fee often makes the park surprisingly uncrowded and peaceful ¥200, children under 15 ¥50, children under 6 free.
  • For people watching, the place to be is the large square in front of the station's Kabukicho entrance, next to the Studio Alta shopping center.
  • Hanazono Shrine (花園神社), located near the intersection of Meiji-dori and Yasukuni-dori. More remarkable for its location than its appearance, but it's a nice place to take a breather. There's often a flea market in the surrounding park on weekends.
  • Southern Terrace, across from the South Exit of Shinjuku Station (the Southern Terrace exit from JR Shinjuku station is closest). The promenade next to the Southern Terrace exit offers a magnificent view of the Takashimaya department store and a bridge that offers the best views for watching the trains enter and exit.
  • Shinjuku-sanchome and related red-light districts to the east of the station. It is perfectly harmless to walk around these during the day and marvel at the photo billboards of various male and female escorts on offer as well as the live gangster-types acting shady. While walking around this area should probably not be done with children, for adults the result is far more "cultural interest" than sleaze.
  • Tokyo Opera City, (take the Keio New Line subway to Hatsudai station). A skyscraper with a shopping center and art museum that often has interesting multimedia exhibits.

Do

  • Karaokekan, Various locations (one minute walk from Seibushinjuku Line, Seibushinjuku station. Or a 5 minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-5285-7007 (fax: 03-5285-7008), [3]. Karaokekan is a large chain of karaoke shops. They have rooms available from one person up to a large party. All you can drink set menus are available.

Spas

  • Boy and Girl Mylord, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-3 Mylord 4F (west exit of JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-3349-5720. Boy and Girl is a hair salon where you can also get spa treatments.

Movies

  • Shinjuku Piccadilly, Shinjuku 3-15-5 (north of exits B7 and B8 of the Tokyo Metro Underground walkway), [5]. Shinjuku Piccadilly is the newest movie theater in Shinjuku. The theater features stadium seating and "platinum" seating. Platinum seating ranges from a semi-private room, including a private lounge (¥5000 per person) to a private room, including a relaxation room (¥30,000 for 2 people). ¥1800.
  • Wald 9, Shinjuku 3-1-26 (in Marui's largest building next to Shinjuku Gyoen), +81 03-5369-4955, [6]. Part of the new generation of movie theaters in Tokyo. It features stadium seating, a small gift shop, and clean theaters. ¥1800.
  • Cinem@rt, Shinjuku 3-13-3, Shinjuku Building 6,7F (one minute walk from Shinjuku 3 chome station of Tokyo Metro Marunochi line, Fukutoshin line, and the Toei Shinjuku line), +81 03-5369-2831. 335 seats total. Mondays are Men's Days, when men can watch movies for ¥1000. Wednesdays are Ladies' Days, when ladies can watch movies for only ¥1000.
  • Kadokawa Cinema Shinjuku, Shinjuku 3-13-3, Shinjuku Culture Bldg. 4・5F, +81 03-5361-7878, [7]. Old cultural history theater.

Buy

Department Stores

  • Isetan, Shinjuku 3-14-1 (Exit B3, B4, & B5 from Shinjuku Sanchome Station), +81 03-3352-1111, [8]. Isetan is one of the most popular department stores in Shinjuku. It caters to a broad 20+ age group. It has a beautiful depachika (basement floor selling food and gifts) that is a little more expensive than other department stores in Shinjuku.
  • Keio, Nishi-shinjuku 1-1-4 (West Exit and Central West Exit from the JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-3342-2111, [9]. Keio is similar to the Odakyu department store in terms of goods and services. The depachika is smaller and more cramped than Odakyu.
  • Lumine, Nishi-shinjuku 1-1-5 (JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-3348-5211, [10]. Lumine has 3 buildings around the JR Shinjuku Station. Lumine 1 and 2 cater to all ages with average priced goods. Both buildings are located at the South Exit. Lumine Est is located at the East Exit and Central East Exit. Lumine Est focuses more on haute fashion for younger women and famous restaurants.
  • Marui, Shinjuku 3-1-26 (Various locations located near Shinjuku Sanchome Station), +81 03-3354-0101, [11]. Marui is well known department store known for focusing on the 16-32 year age group. Spread out around Shinjuku Sanchome, the main building is located next to Shinjuku Gyoen. The men's building is located North of the main building and Marui Young is located West of Isetan.
  • Mitsukoshi ALCOTT, Shinjuku 3-29-1 (West of Shinjuku Sanchome Station), +81 03-3354-1111, [12]. Mitsukoshi ALCOTT is an upscale department store that caters more towards the upper class shoppers. However, they still have a variety of reasonably priced shops and a large book store occupying the top 3 floors. UPDATE: Mitsukoshi ALCOTT was closed in 2012 and the site is now home to "Bicqlo" a joint venture of the electronics store Bic Camera and fashion retailer Uniqlo.
  • Odakyu, Nishi-shinuku 1-1-3 (West Exit of the JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-3342-1111, [13]. Odakyu is the largest department store on the West side of Shinjuku Station. It caters to the 30+ age group and has various buildings. Mylord is located behind the Keio Department Store and caters to a younger age group. Halc is located South of the West Bus Loop and focuses on sports clothing and electronics (Bic Camera's largest Shinjuku location is within Halc).
  • Takashimaya, Sendagaya 5-24-2 (New South Exit and the Southern Terrace Exit from the JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-5361-1111, [14]. Takashimaya is the Southern most department store in Shinjuku located between the JR Shinjuku and JR Yoyogi stations. This department store caters towards the mid-20s and up, along with families. The depachika is comparable to Isetan, but not as famous. Look for Tokyu Hands and Books Kinokuniya at the Southern end of the department store.

Books

  • Bookoff, Various Locations (Go south from the JR Shinjuku Southern Terrace Exit, head down the stairs at the end of the Southern Terrace, and cross the Odakyu train tracks. Alternatively, head out of the North Exit of the JR Yoyogi Station and turn right). 10AM-11PM. Bookoff is a well known second hand book store. They also offer various albums, games, and movies. The closest branch to Shinjuku Station is South of Southern Terrace. Alternatively, (Nishi-shinjuku 7-7-29) you can head North from the West Exit, or (Shinjuku 5-2-1) North of Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Line.
  • Books Kinokuniya, (the Main Branch is located between Shinjuku Sanchome and Shinjuku Stations. The South Branch is located South of Takeshimaya close to Yoyogi Station), [15]. Books Kinokuniya is the best book store for foreign language books. The Main Branch is the older of the 2, however, the Southern Branch is bigger and has a greater selection of foreign language books.
  • Junkudo, Shinjuku 3-29-1 (Floors 6-8 of Mitsukoshi ALCOTT), +81 03-5363-1300, [16]. Junkudo is a major book store that carries a lot of Japanese language books. Their specialty is carrying hard to find books. Junkudo closed its Shinjuku branch in the summer of 2012 to make way for the new "Bicqlo" Store.

Electronics

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.

  • Bic Camera, Nishi-shinjuku 1-5-1 (inside Odakyu Halc just outside the JR Shinjuku West Exit), +81 03-5326-1111, [17]. 10AM-9PM. Second-largest electronics shop in Shinjuku. While not as big as Yodobashi Camera, prices and product range is roughly the same. The East side shop, located near Mitsukoshi ALCOTT, next to Books Kinokuniya, is bigger than Yodobashi's East side shop, but still smaller than the West side location. Bic Camera closed its East side shop next to Kinokuniya in the summer of 2012 and has opened a new store in the former Mitsukoshi ALCOTT building in tandem with fashion retailer Uniqlo called "Bicqlo." It is now the largest Bic Camera in the Shinjuku district.
  • Yodobashi Camera, Nishi-shinjuku 1-11-1 (2 minutes West of the JR Shinjuku West Exit. Look South-West at the bus stop.), +81 03-3346-1010, [18]. 9:30AM-10PM. Yodobashi is the largest electronics retailer in Shinjuku. The main building is their multimedia centre. They also have a dedicated Games building, Camera building, and Watch building among others. Yodobashi also has a branch on the East side of Shinjuku, across from Lumine EST.

Variety Goods

  • Don Quijote, 1-16-5 Kabuki-cho (on Yasukuni-Dori), [19]. A hectic 24-hour discount store that sells just about everything that you would never imagine needing at three in the morning but might just pick up anyway, such as clothing, bicycles, electronics, jewelry, and gag gifts.
  • Tokyu Hands, Sendagaya 5-24-2 (within Takashimaya near the JR Shinjuku New South Exit), +81 03-5361-3111, [20]. This is a large variety goods shop, and if "large" doesn't impress you, you have probably never faced the dilemma which kind of sand to use for your model railway. Because here, you can choose from a dozen kinds of sand alone - from yellow Sahara sand to reddish Nullarbor sand, everything in handy plastic packets. This shop is the best proof that in a rich mega city, there is a clientele for anything. You can buy almost anything you want.

Music

  • Disk Union, Shinjuku 3-31-4 (Main Branch is located near Shinjuku Sanchome Station), +81 03-3352-2697, [21]. You can get music, movies, and music books. They have a large selection of used goods with over 10 locations. Aside from the main branch, other branches specialize in specific genres or goods. This shop is great for music enthusiasts.
  • HMV, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-2 (Takashimaya Times Square 12F), +81 03-5361-3060, [22]. HMV is one of the bigger record stores in Japan with a good selection of music and movies. HMV has 2 locations in Shinjuku: one in Takashimaya Times Square and another on the 6th floor of Lumine Est. Update: The Takashimaya Times Square location has closed and is now a Uniqlo.
  • Tower Records, Shinjuku 3-37-1 (Southeast Exit of the JR Shinjuku Station), +81 03-5360-7811, [23]. Tower Records is one of the biggest record stores in Japan. They have any CD or DVD you can imagine, and if not, you can probably order or reserve it.
  • Tsutaya, Shinjuku 3-26-14 (East of the JR Shinjuku East Exit. Across from Books Kinokuniya on Shinjuku-dori), 03-5269-6969 (fax: +81 03-5269-6990), [24]. 10AM-2AM. Tsutaya is a major video/music rental store but the Shinjuku shop sells a large variety of music, games, and videos. They also have a decent variety of used products at reduced prices.
  • Nishi-Shinjuku 7-chome, (northwest of JR Shinjuku station). Packed with music shops specializing in various genres such as punk and heavy metal. Many sell nothing but bootlegs and collectibles.

Other

  • Between the underground entrance to the Keio department store and the taxi rotary is an area hosting a rotating series of stalls or exhibits. Some recent stalls/exhibits have included various local foods from around Japan, furniture, and information about various government projects around Tokyo.

Eat

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.

Budget

  • The Lumine and Mylord department stores atop the south side of the JR station both have inexpensive restaurant arcades on their upper floors.
  • Khao San, Lumine 1, B2F. A good place for Thai street-stall style food. It's always packed and hectic for lunch, with attendants hollering to attract customers.
  • Doner Kebab Stand, (take the New South exit and walk straight ahead; the stand is on the left side, near the IDC Otsuka furniture store). 11AM-11:30PM. Serves delicious roasted meat with a special Turkish sauce. ¥500.
  • Takoyaki Stand, (take the East exits from the station and walk straight ahead). Nearby the McDonald's you'll see a small cart selling this strange but delicious snack: small pieces of octopus mixed into a sort of pancake batter and fried in small spheres. Watch as the elderly vendor liberally applies sauces, scallions and fish flakes. You get six for only ¥500 and it's a terrific snack after a night of sake and beer. Unfortunately there's no seats but no one will fault you for standing there and chowing down.
  • Saam-Rot Thai & Vietnam Cafe Restaurant, Kabukicho 1-2-19, 2F, +81 03-3205-0148, [25]. Original Thai & Vietnamese food.
  • Blumare, Shinjuku 3-28-9, Shinjuku Lion Kaikan 3F, +81 03-3352-6606. All-you-can-eat pizza and pasta chain restaurant. Lunch ¥1300.
  • Sansyoku-Sansun-Bashi (三尺三寸箸), Nishi-shinjuku 1-1-5, Lumine One 7F, +81 03-5909-5123. All-you-can-eat food. Lunch ¥1800.
  • Katsugin (かつ銀), Shinjuku 5-10-4 (From Shinjuku Station, walk N to Yasukuni Dori and head east for 300m. The restaurant is just down a small alley on the N side of the road.), +81 3-3543-2485. A small restaurant serving almost exclusively breaded pork dishes (tonkatsu teishoku and katsudon). Menu only in Japanese. ¥800-1500. (35.692091,139.708242)
  • Suzuya (すずや), 1-23-15 Kabuki-cho, 2F (Across the street from Seven-Eleven at the south entrance to Kabuki-cho nearest Shinjuku Station.), +81 03-3209-4480, [26]. This tonkatsu restaurant is famous for its green tea tonkatsu, which is salty and filling. It also serves other types of tonkatsu and katsudon. ¥1000-2000. (35.693918,139.700963)

Mid-range

  • Okonomiyaki Wahaha Fugetsu (お好み焼き わっはっはっ風月), [27]. The Japanese favorite okonomiyaki, done Osaka-style.
  • Botejyu, Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1, Subnade B1, +81 03-3348-5322, [28]. 11AM-10:30PM (Last order 10PM). Botejyu is an okonomiyaki shop that sells a variety of okonomiyaki. They also have various yaki-soba dishes. Beware that at times, this restaurant can be busy with wait times of up to 30 min.
  • Juttoku (十徳), New Sentora Bldg B1F, 1-5-12 Nishi-Shinjuku, +81 3-3342-0339, [29]. M-Sa 4PM-12AM, Su 4PM-4AM. This izakaya has an excellent selection of sake.
  • The Lockup, Kabuki-cho 1-16-3, Shinjuku Square Bldg 6-7F, +81 3-5272-7055. 5PM-5AM. A Shinjuku original that has since spawned several branches elsewhere in Tokyo. It has a hybrid prison/dungeon/horror movie theme: customers are led to tables inside stone cells by waitresses in plastic-miniskirt police uniforms, where they are "locked up" and given menus filled with bizarre drinks (the most well-known of which consists of a rack of test tubes filled with flavored syrups, a flask full of alcohol, and a beaker to mix everything in) and relatively normal food. Twice every night, a "jailbreak" is staged in which the lights go out and costumed hoodlums scare the living daylights out of random patrons.
  • Kappō Nakajima (割烹 中島), Shinjuku 3-32-5 basement. Closed Sundays. Specializes in sardine dishes. Yanagawa teishoku is deep-fried sardines with scrambled eggs on rice (it tastes better than it sounds).
  • Shunka Shuto (春花秋灯), 53rd floor of Tokyo Opera City (see above), +81 3-5353-7111. Enjoy the view while dining on seafood and other specialties of Hokkaido.
  • Yanbaru (やんばる), Shinjuku 3-23-6 (north of Kabukicho exit), +81 3-3353-2028. There's nothing pretentious about this restaurant specializing in Okinawan food, which emphasizes pork and vegetables that are unusual even to Honshu Japanese. Recommend is beni imo (¥450), tempura-style sweet potato; and hechima misoni (¥600), an eggplant-like vegetable served in a strongly fermented miso sauce. A picture menu is available.
  • There's a cluster of interesting ethnic restaurants on the south side of Koshu-Kaido-dori, to the west of the station.
    • España, +81 3-3379-1159. In the same building, has good paella.
    • Court Lodge, +81 3-3376-7733. A few buildings away on the ground floor; serves spicy dishes of Sri Lanka.
  • Bosphorus Hasan, Shinjuku 3-6-11 2F, +81 3-3354-7947, [30]. Open everyday, including national holidays; 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5PM-11:30PM. Authentic Turkish food. (35.69135,139.705981)
  • Din Tai Fung, Sendagaya 5-24-2, Takashimaya 12F, +81 03-5361-1381. 10AM-10PM, closed Wednesdays. Tokyo branch of the renowned Taiwan dim sum restaurant; speciality is the dumplings.
  • Brusca, 107 Yarai-cho, Hosoya Bldg 2F (Tozai line, Kagurazaka station, exit 1), +81 03-6457-5788, [31]. 11:30AM-2:30PM, 6PM-midnight. Excellent Italian bruschetta, bread topped with a variety of meat, cheese, vegetables and herbs. Wide selection of bottled beers, and 6 beers on tap. Second restaurant opened by the enthusiastic Stefano. ¥800-1000 for one bruschetta.
  • Christon Cafe, Oriental Wave Bldg 8F, 5-17-13 Shinjuku, +81 3-5287-2426, [32]. A cool atmosphere for those looking to lounge around on a leather couch surrounded by cathedral lighting, gargoyles, and an array of Christian decor. The food is very good and reasonably priced for Tokyo, but the service can be slow, unhelpful, and unreliable. "Amuse" charge of at least ¥300 per person on top.

Splurge

  • Torafugu-Tei (とらふぐ亭), Kabukicho 2-11-7 Metro Bldg. B1F. Specializing in the infamous fugu (blowfish), it's one of the huge number of seafood restaurants in Kabukicho (see below). Set dinners go for around ¥5000, featuring fugu prepared five or six ways, fresh from the tank.

Drink

Festival procession in the neon-drenched alleys of Kabukichō

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.

  • Araku, Golden Gai St #2 2FL, +81 03-5272-1651, [33]. Australian-run, considerably larger and can be less intimidating than many other Golden Gai establishments.
  • Bar K. Always welcoming of foreigners with beers. ¥1000 mini long neck.
  • Hair of The Dogs, 03-5285-1989 (), [34]. F-W 7PM-4AM, Th 7PM-midnight. Punk rock with a dash of Mexican Luchadors. Good cocktails and beer at an average of ¥700 a drink. The owner, Tohru, is very welcoming to anyone who loves to rock. Cover charge lets you sit at the bar and choose music from a menu split into various Punk Rock styles (UK, USA, Japan, Hardcore, Goth, Oi, Mod, Post Punk, 70s, 80s etc). Movies like Taxi Driver and Sid & Nancy are played from a cheap projector to the wall behind the bar. Action figures of Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop and Luchadors guard you from all corners. ¥800 to sit at the bar.
  • Bar Albatross-G, #2F 5th Avenue, [35]. Casual cocktail bar with Burgundy painted walls, chandeliers and no-frills mixology. Cover charge includes a small snack of either noodles, miso or whatever's brewing. Most drinks are around ¥700. Space includes a second floor "attic" accessible by a thin staircase with more fixtures and local artists' creations. Also visit the original Albatross bar in Shinjuku Omoide-Yokocho. ¥300 cover.
  • Rock Bar: Mother. Has an extensive collection of Punk and Metal CDs for those looking for some alternative rock.
  • Godz Bar, Ebisu-Kaikan B1F 1-10-5, Kabuki-cho, [36]. Daily 7PM-5AM. Heavy metal/hard rock bar.
  • Champions (Coin Bar), Just before the Golden Gai entrance and slightly west as you head back towards Kabuki-cho.. Staffed mostly by Filipinas who speak excellent English. Drinks ¥500.
  • toto Bar, 新宿区歌舞伎町1-1-8-2F, 03-3202-2250, [37]. Daily 7PM~. Chill, gaijin-friendly upstairs bar able to seat about 6-8 people. The regulars are friendly and willing to engage in conversation with any curious foreigner. The bartender Ayaka Araki is also a hoot, and she serves a delicious grilled fish. Google-map the address above to find the exact alley, which is actually towards the eastern end of the alley, entrance on the south side. ¥500 cover, tap beer starts at ¥600.

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:

  • New York Bar & Grill, Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1 (Park Hyatt Tokyo), +81 03-5323-3458, [38]. Daily 5PM-midnight. One of the main sets for Lost in Translation, this slick joint on the 52th floor has dark decor and floor-to-ceiling windows with jaw-dropping vistas, with live jazz nightly. Eating a steak here would cost you well north of ¥10,000 per head, but you can nurse a beer for a mere ¥1000 or, "for relaxing times", try out Bill Murray's 17-year-old Suntory Hibiki for ¥2,300. Cover charge ¥2000 after 8PM (Sun 7PM).

Clubs

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.

  • Casablanca, J2 Bldg, 1-7-1 Kabukicho, [39]. A two level nightclub and lounge with a large dance floor and darts. The DJ normally spins hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and house, and there are live house performances periodically through the night.
  • Loft/Plus One (ロフトプラスワン), Hiyashi Bldg B2F, Kabukicho 1-14-7 (Off Chuo-dori opposite Koma Theatre), [40]. Shows at 2PM, 7:30PM, and midnight. Performance art space meets bar run with a simple concept: different people and groups rent a block of time and do whatever they want to. The end result runs from stand-up comedy and lectures to porn star photo shoots and incredibly violent live S&M. Erotic shows 18+ only (ID required). Tickets ¥1000-6000 (discounts for advance purchase).
  • Oto, [41]. Upscale club of mostly locals that have live jazz bands and DJ's. Music ranges from jazz, electro, to Euro rock.
  • Tokyo Loose, 2-37-3 Kabuki-cho, Marutomo Bldg B1, +81 03-3207-5677, [42]. Small bar full of men. It's not easy to find, so call for directions.

Cafes

  • Bun The world of coffee, Shijuku-ku Shinjuku 3-15-17, Isetan Bl.1F, +81 03-3354-7226. Specialty coffee store feeling, with coffee styles from 15 countries.
  • Doutor, Various locations, [43]. Doutor is a relatively "salary man" coffee shop. You will see lots of business men within this shop. Expect most shops to be all smoking, or only 2-3 seats for a non-smoking section. Drinks ¥200-450.
  • Excelsior Caffe, Various locations, [44]. Excelsior Caffe and Doutor are the same company, however Excelsior Caffe caters to a younger, more feminine crowd. Most shops tend to have a better non-smoking section, however smoking still occupies the majority of the cafe's seating area. Bigger shops have smoking and non-smoking on different floors. Drinks ¥280-460.
  • Pronto, Various locations, see website and click on 店舗リスト, [45]. opens around 7AM, closes around 5:30PM. The bar is usually opened within minutes. Pronto is a very relaxed cafe/bar that is a cafe during the day. They offer premium style drinks. Drinks ¥200-400.
  • Segafredo ZANETTI, 3 locations near Shinjuku Station, [46]. Segafredo is a somewhat upscale style cafe that has various locations near Shinjuku. Segafredo tends to have a darker atmosphere akin to Pronto. Drinks ¥280-500.
  • Starbucks Coffee, Shinjuku has 22 Starbucks Coffee shops, [47].
    • Shinjuku Dianne Bldg 3-36-6 (one minute from Shinjuku station by walk, 8 minutes from Seibu-shinjuku station by walk; between OIOIcity and Flags), +81 03-3353-4775.
    • Shinjuku Green Tower, Nishi-shinjuku 6-14-1 (4 minutes from Nishi-shinjuku station by walk, 6 minutes from Tochomae station by walk, 10 minutes from Shinjuku station by walk; near the Hilton Hotel), +81 03-3342-7737.
  • Canal Cafe, 1-9 Kagurazaka (Iidabashi station, JR west exit or subway exit B2A), +81 3-3260-8068 (fax: +81 3-3260-8052), [48]. Tu-F 11:30AM-9:30PM, Sa-Su 11:30AM-11PM. Located in the far east of Shinjuku City in the Kagurazaka district. With views remarkable for Tokyo, Canal Cafe consists of a separate restaurant and cafe situated alongside a canal. The open-air cafe has great ambiance. At the restaurant figure ¥6000-9000 for dinner, but at the café, which is a long patio-like dock, drinks and snacks are purchased at the bar and can be quite reasonable.

Pubs and taverns

  • The Dubliners, Shinjuku 3-28-9 (two minutes from JR east exit), +81 03-3352-6606. Down a pint of Guinness and mingle with the local expats.
  • The Hub, [49]. Popular chain of English pubs. Have some fish and chips with your pint at one of four Shinjuku locations. Apart from the branches near Shinjuku station, the Shinjuku district has Hub branches in Hatsudai (Opera City), Ichigaya and Takadanobaba.
    • 1-6-1 Kabukicho, Shirou Building B1, +81 03-5155-2622.
    • 1-22-8 Kabukicho, Kojimaya Building B1, +81 03-3208-1462.
    • 1-3-17 Nishi-Shinjuku, Aoi Building B1, +81 03-3345-5310.
    • 3-36-15 Shinjuku, Uchino building B1 & 6F, +81 03-5379-1949.
  • Marone, (Unfortunately the address (in English) is incredibly difficult to find, but luckily it's only a few doors down from the famous restaurant Tsunahachi (east of the station). Look for their chalkboard outside a non-descript building and then go up to 2F). Tucked away in this tiny cubbyhole of a space is one of the most interesting small bars in Tokyo. A country western theme with Chet Baker and Nat King Cole pouring from the stereo. The food is cheap and superbly done (think chili nachos and the like); beer and spirits are also available. The place is tiny but it attracts a great mix of young groups of friends and office workers. Be forewarned though: some nights Marone puts on live music and cover charges are upwards of ¥4000! The older couple who run the bar are terrifically friendly but their English is minimal.
  • Paddy's Junction, 2-13-16 Shinjuku (Close to exits 7 and 8 of the Shinjuku-sanchome station; go east two blocks then south one block and it is down a side-street to the east), +81 03-6273-1755 (). A newly-opened English style pub attracting a mixture of Japanese and foreigners. They serve popular dishes such as fish and chips, as well as English beer and cider. Drinks are normally 600-900 yen but promotions run throughout the week that reduce this to 300 yen or so.
  • Vagabond, 1-4-20 Nishi Shinjuku (In west Shinjuku, in the 2nd alley behind (north of) Odakyu Halc, Shinjuku), +81 03-3348-9109. A great little pub with two floors. The first floor is a little more private while the top floor is a very cozy jazz bar with live music and a good selection of finger foods cooked right at the bar for you. Caution to taller travelers: it's a little cramped at the bar.

Sleep

Budget

  • Sakura Hotel Hatagaya, 32-3 Hatagaya Shibuya-ku, +81 3-3469-5211 (fax: +81 3-3468-4307), [50]. Just 2 stations (3 min.) to Shinjuku. Affordable hotel accommodation in central Tokyo. Staff can speak English. Single rooms ¥6930, double rooms ¥9000, twin & triple room with breakfast..
  • Tama Ryokan, 1-25-33 Takadanobaba, +81 3-3209-8062 (fax: +81 3-3209-8068), [51]. There is a lounge for relaxing and internet access. Three-minute walk from Takadanobaba Station. Prices for one person no higher than ¥4,500, and the prices drop if more than 1 person stays per room.
  • Ten Ten Guesthouse, Takadanobaba, +81 070-5652-8628, [52]. The cheapest youth hostel in Tokyo. Don't expect too much for the price. Cockroaches & Bed Bugs included. The manager manages 6 of these guesthouses, all the same price, same style. Price for a dorm bed starts with ¥1,200 (per day for 1 month stay), ¥1,400 (per day/1 week stay), up to ¥1,600 (2-6 nights).
  • Tokyo International Hostel, 1-1 Kagurakashi, +81 3-3235-1107 (fax: +81 3-3267-4000), [53]. Located on the 18th and 19th floors of a high-rise in Shinjuku, with great views over the city (including a hot tub and baths overlooking the lights and skyscrapers of Shinjuku) and comfortable rooms.
  • Hotel Wing International Shinjuku, 1-21-7 Kabukicho, +81 3-3200-0122 (fax: +81 3-3200-8086), [54]. checkin: 1500; checkout: 1100. Located at the edge of Kabukicho's nightlife of bars, hostesses and livehouses. Standard business hotel with simple ameneties. Add daily breakfast at ¥800/day. Various single, double and even triple rooms available. A 5 minute walk from Shinjuku station, this hotel was formerly known as "Hotel Kent" and recently switched to the Wing International brand. Perfect distance in Kabukicho to be just far enough from the street noise, but still a quick walk to Golden Gai, Shinjuku Station and many other sensory overloads from Kabukicho. Nightly - ¥9000/single, ¥10000/double, ¥13000/twin - discounts for longer stays.
  • Manboo Internet & Comic Cafe. Internet cafe that has small, private rooms to crash out in. Rooms have a comfortable reclining chair (or a "flat seat" option), internet, TV, and headphones. Free soft drinks and coffee are provided and there's also a shower room/toilet and toiletries on sale. ¥1,800.
  • Green Plaza Capsule Hotel, [55]. Not a bad capsule hotel, though it runs a little more expensive than most of its kind. They will take foreigners as long as they don't make fools of themselves. Remove your shoes on entry. ¥4200.
  • Ace Inn Shinjuku, [56]. Capsule Hotel near Akebonobashi Station. On the ninth floor there is a common space with vending machines and TV, where you can meet with the other guests from all over the world. Internet connection via WiFi in the whole building or PC on the ground level is free. English speaking staff. Rooms from ¥3150, long term discount starting from 1 week.

Mid-Range

  • Hotel Sunlite Shinjuku, +81 03-3356-0391 (fax: +81 03-3356-1223), [57]. Singles start at ¥8,715; doubles at ¥12,075 per night. Discounts are offered if you refer to their web page.
  • Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, 2-3-1 Yoyogi, +81 3-3375-3211, [58]. Includes a restaurant, a bar, and massage parlor. Located just 2 minutes walking from Shinju-ku station south exit. Recommended for taller guests. (Better rates are often available by the usual Western online booking agents.) Prices range ¥14000 and up.
  • New City Shinjuku, 4-31-1 Nishi-shinjuku, 66 3 836 4700. Located in a tranquil spot across Shinjuku Central Park from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, this hotel has clean rooms with nice views of the skyscraper district, two decent onsite restaurants for the truly lazy, and a free shuttle bus to and from Shinjuku station. Singles start at ¥9500.
  • Shinjuku Prince Hotel, Kabushigi-cho 1-30-1, +81 03-3205-1111, [59]. Includes restaurants, a bakery, and salon.
  • Tokyu Stay Yotsuya, 2-1 Yotsuya, +81 03-3354-0109 (fax: +81 03-3354-0191), [60]. Part of the Tokyu Stay chain, these hotels are popular with business travelers. The small kitchenettes, washer/dryers, and free LAN access in all rooms makes these a good value. Singles start at ¥9,450; doubles at ¥17,850 per night. Slight discounts are offered for extended stays.

Splurge

The western side of Shinjuku has a notable concentration of luxury hotels.

  • Hyatt Regency Tokyo, 2-7-2 Nishi-Shinjuku (close to Shinjuku Station), +81 03-3348-1234 (), [61]. 744 rooms and suites with views of Mt Fuji and Shinjuku Central Park. Regency Club lounge for free continental breakfast, tea service and evening cocktails. Hosts a roof-top pool and healh spa.
  • Keio Plaza Hotel, 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, +81 03-3344-0111, [62]. Less than 10 minutes by foot from Shinjuku Station, has rooms that face the Shinjuku Metropolitan Government office.
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, +81 03-5322-1234, [63]. Towering above the rest literally and figuratively, this hotel is best known for featuring prominently in the movie Lost in Translation. Surprisingly intimate in feel, one of the standout features is the 47th-floor "Club on the Park" pool with floor-to-ceiling views of Shinjuku at night. Service and amenities are superlative, but rates are astronomical even by Japanese standards. Singles starting at ¥50,000.

Rentals

  • Sakura House, Nishi-Shinjuku K-1 Bldg 2F, 7-2-6, +81 3-5330-5250 (), [64]. If you plan on staying in Tokyo for a month or more you might want to check this place out.

Contact

  • Tokyo Tourist Information Center, on the 1st floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building 1, [65]. 9:30AM-6PM daily. A good source of information on not just Tokyo but all of Japan. This office is geared for foreign visitors, so all materials are in languages other than Japanese and all staff speak English.

Get out

  • Shibuya is located 3 stations south of Shinjuku on the Yamanote Line.
  • Ikebukuro is located 3 stations north of Shinjuku on the Yamanote Line.
  • Mitaka is located West along the Chuo Line. It is the home of the Ghibli Museum.
  • Hachioji is a suburban city of Tokyo located west of Shinjuku along the Keio Line and Chuo Line, with access to Takao-san, a popular mountain for hiking or just escaping the urban sprawl for a day.
  • Hakone is a popular area for onsens and easily accessible by the Odakyu Line.


Routes through Tokyo/Shinjuku
NagoyaTokyo/Nakano  W noframe E  END
Tokyo/SuginamiTokyo/Nakano  W noframe E  Tokyo/ShibuyaTokyo/Chiyoda




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