Neon-filled Shinjuku is where Tokyo goes to have fun
With the dubious distinction of being home to the busiest train station in the world, Shinjuku has so much to offer. From modern high rises to green oases, it's a mecca for shopping, eating and relaxing.
- Shinjuku Gyoen, an oasis of nature amid the crowds
- Bustling nightlife and endless shopping opportunities
- City Hall, high-rises, and futuristic neon cityscapes
How to Get There
Twelve separate lines run through Shinjuku Station, including the JR Yamanote Line.
Shinjuku is at nine o'clock on the JR Yamanote Line, on the fashionable western side of the city (alongside Shibuya, Yoyogi, and Harajuku). Other lines, above and below ground, pass through Shinjuku. It is also a major stop for highway buses feeding into Tokyo from the rest of Japan.
Getting your bearings
Shinjuku Station is officially the busiest transport hub in the world. When it was registered by Guinness World Records in 2007, an average 3.64 million people used Shinjuku Station per day.
With 36 platforms, over 200 exits and another 17 platforms in five directly connected stations, it is labyrinthine. Never be so casual as to suggest meeting someone "outside Shinjuku Station": JR, Keio, Odakyu, Toei, Tokyo Metro and Seibu all have stations within the Shinjuku Station complex, which also boasts underground malls, restaurants and cafes. Shinjuku is defined by its station.
More than a transport hub
As a result of all this human traffic, Shinjuku caters to all tastes and desires.
Major department stores including Isetan, Takashimaya, Keio, and Odakyu have flagship stores in Shinjuku. Kinokuniya Bookstore, Tokyu Hands, Bic Camera, Yodobashi and Labi all have a huge presence right in front of the station.
There are thousands of stores in the immediate vicinity, and if you stroll in any direction from the station, there are thousands more shops, restaurants, bars, clubs and movie theaters. Shinjuku has everything you want and much you didn't know you needed.
Pink lights, nightlife and 24-hour party people
Kabukicho is where the party happens. Often called the town that doesn't sleep, more accurately, it passes out for a couple of hours late morning.
Despite its sometimes sleazy reputation, it is a must-see destination for young people and foreign visitors and is becoming more family-friendly. With over 4,000 bars, restaurants, clubs and convenience stores, there is a lot to choose from in such a small area. Oddities like the Robot Restaurant , a giant Godzilla, the Samurai Museum and Thermae-Yu baths have made it a popular attraction. Golden Gai, Hanazono Jinja, and even Koreatown keep people coming back for more.
Not all fun and games
Shinjuku is also home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building (Tocho), which dominates the skyline. Even among the rest of the towers of south Shinjuku, Tocho stands tall. The views from the free observation decks are stunning, and they stay open until 11:00 p.m.
Fit for an emperor
Amid the steel, concrete, and chaos, with millions of people shuffling through each day, Shinjuku Gyoen garden is almost a dreamlike aberration. It's a well-kept secret, and outside of cherry blossom season and the turning of the leaves in fall, it is a tranquil escape from the neon and noise.
Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989), who was the last person in the imperial family to have experienced the garden as a "personal" garden, loved it so much that his funeral was held in a special ceremony here.
The many flowers, carefully manicured trees, the classic Japanese Garden, pagodas and Taiwanese Pavilion, the verdant greenhouse, as well as the mix of French formal and British landscape styles, all are designed to convey joy and peace to stressed urbanites.