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The 10 Best Things To Do in Shinjuku

Looking to experience urban Tokyo? Here are the top ten things to do in Shinjuku, offering towering views and beautiful gardens.

By 4 min read

You probably think of Shinjuku when you imagine views of Tokyo. This central area of Tokyo is great for living and has exciting shopping, business and entertainment opportunities.

From skyline views and vibrant, diverse nightlife to the urban oasis of Shinjuku National Garden, Shinjuku is packed with Tokyo’s top sites. Below is our list of the top ten things to do when you visit Shinjuku.

1. Shinjuku National Garden

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An oasis in the city.

One of Tokyo’s most famous outdoor parks is Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku National Garden). The park’s origins date back to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when it was part of a feudal lord’s private residence. The park combines several garden styles, including a traditional Japanese, French, and English landscape garden. And come spring, the hundreds of sakura (cherry) trees bloom around the spacious lawns of the English garden, making it one of the most popular sites in the city for hanami (flower viewing).

11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014 - Map
Nearest Station: Shinjuku-gyoenmae
Admission: ¥500

2. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

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Shinjuku Metropolitan Government and the high-rise building night scene

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or Tokyo Tocho, is famous for its twin towers and free observation decks on the 45th floor. It serves as Tokyo’s city hall and houses offices for all 23 wards. The North and South towers, once Tokyo’s tallest until 2007 at 243 meters, offer panoramic views of the cityscape, including landmarks like Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and Mount Fuji on clear days. Tocho recently set a Guinness World Record for the largest projection-mapping display, with nightly shows from Feb 26 to April 2024.

2-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001 - Map
Nearest Station: Tocho-Mae
Note: The North Observation Tower is closed (March 2024).

3. Kabukicho

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Godzilla is always watching.

The once seedy Kabukicho is famous for being the largest red-light district in Tokyo, given its plethora of host/hostess clubs and love hotels. Despite its reputation, Kabukicho is home to gourmet and drinking hubs like Golden Gai, a yokocho (drinking alley), popular for its diversity of intimate and unique bars.

Plenty of newly built entertainment spots exist, such as the Samurai Restaurant, for wild characters and neon-filled shows. Kabukicho Tower has flashy game centers and the Tokyo Matrix escape room. Outside, snap a picture with everyone’s favorite city destroyer, Godzilla, whose head looms over the Toho Cinema building.

Kabukicho: 1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021 - Map
Golden Gai: 1-1-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021 - Map
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku (East Exit)

4. Isetan Department Store

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Japan’s largest department store chain.

Isetan Shinjuku opened in 1933 with a striking Art Deco design representing Shinjuku’s modernity. This top department store boasts nine floors, from B2 to 7, featuring a diverse range of products. Visit the depachika (basement food) floor for premium groceries, sweets, teas and more from across Japan. Don’t miss out on a guest card for a 5% discount and tax-free shopping for visitors.

3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022 - Map
Nearest Station: Shinjuku-Sanchome

5. Shin-Okubo

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The famous chicken and cheese UFO of Shin-Okubo.

Shin-Okubo, Tokyo’s Korean Town near the station, is a hotspot for South Korean culture lovers. It features shops with K-beauty products and K-pop items. Enjoy spicy Korean cuisine at places like Delica Ondoru, offering favorites like bibimbap and crispy fried chicken. It’s trendy and affordable, making it popular among younger crowds.

Okubo, Shinjuku City, Tokyo, 169-0072 - Map
Nearest Station: JR Shin-Okubo

6. Omoide Yokocho

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It’s easy to make friends in Omoide Yokocho.

Omoide Yokocho, dubbed “memory lane” near Shinjuku station’s west exit, transports you back to mid-Showa-era Japan. It arose from the ashes post-WWII as an open-air market, now featuring 60 food stalls and bars offering nostalgic izakaya fare like yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and motsuyaki (grilled innards), perfect with a cold beer. Experience the bustling retro atmosphere as you enjoy drinks and bites in this historic setting.

1-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023 - Map
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku (West Exit)

7. Hanazono Shrine

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Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku, with a 400-year history, honors Inari Okami, associated with foxes, fertility, and prosperity. Visitors pray for business success, while smaller shrines cater to artists and romantic wishes. Don’t miss the grand Tori no Ichi event in November, when hundreds of lanterns light up the shrine.

5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022 - Map
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku (East Exit)

8. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

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A treat for fashion lovers.

The Bunka Gakuen Clothing Museum, opened in 1979, is solely dedicated to clothing. It’s affiliated with Bunka Gakuen University, known for producing many Japanese fashion designers. Originally focused on Western clothing’s influence on Japanese fashion in the early 20th century, it expanded its collection post-World War II to include pieces from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Besides its permanent collection, the museum also features temporary exhibitions.

3-22 Yoyogi, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0053 - Map
Nearest station: Shinjuku (Toei Shinjuku and Oedo Subway Lines)
Admission: ¥500

9. Shinjuku Batting Center

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Work hard, play hard.

The Shinjuku and Oslo Batting Centers thrive as hubs for urban sporting entertainment. Their prime location and Japan’s love for baseball draw a diverse crowd seeking fun and skill improvement. The center’s accessibility, coaching services, and varied difficulty levels cater to players of all abilities, fostering a friendly and competitive atmosphere.

Plus, it is a great way to see the locals blowing off much-needed after-work stress. You’ll often find tipsy salarymen and their friends swinging away and laughing loudly. The Shinjuku batting centers combine sports and socializing to create an enjoyable and memorable outing in Tokyo.

Shinjuku Batting Center: 2-21-13 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo - Map
Oslo Batting Center: 2-34-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo - Map
Nearest Station: Shinjuku-Sanchome

10. Tokyo Opera City

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Tokyo Opera City houses concert halls, art museums, and the nearby New National Theatre Tokyo. The Concert Hall accommodates 1,632 attendees across two balconies and a first floor and hosts various events, from solo pianists to symphonic orchestras. The Art Gallery features a range of artwork, including watercolors, oil paintings, and sculptures, alongside special themed exhibitions and works by emerging Japanese artists.

3-20-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-1407 - Map
Nearest Station: Hatsudai (New Keio Line)
What are your favorite places in Shinjuku? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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