Eat & Drink
Kabukicho in Shinjuku is the most densely packed, neon-burning, boisterous yet safest red-light district in Asia and, possibly, in the world.
Close to JR Shinjuku Station and metro subway lines, Kabukicho is easy to reach.
Kabukicho is just a five-minute walk from the east exit of JR Shinjuku Station, as well as from stops on the Fukutoshin, Marunouchi, and Seibu-Shinjuku Lines. Get to the big boulevard, Yasukuni Dori, and you should see the giant Don Quixote store that marks the main street in Kabukicho.
Walking straight past Don Quixote, the street goes directly to a huge entertainment complex, with a multiplex cinema and the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku above it. When you look up, you'll see Godzilla, one of Kabukicho's newest residents. By going to the roof—part of the hotel—you can see him up close.
Kabukicho is an entertainment district that caters to pretty much any person's taste and budget, even the wild and fantastical. Since 2012, the Robot Restaurant has been delighting guests with its mindblowing cabaret show mixing robots with vivacious dancers. The highlight, of course, is when the robots and fembots battle on stage.
The bright lights, lasers, loud music, and frenzy are perfectly suited to Kabukicho. It's actually so overwhelming that the rest of the environment will seem subdued in comparison.
The very lowbrow alleys of Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho—full of tiny, atmospheric bars and restaurants—are not officially part of Kabukicho, but they are close enough. Both of these cozy alleys are packed densely with the kind of ambiance that makes for an unforgettable night out.
Ignore the hawkers. They're harmless, but the places they work for generally charge more money than what they supply is worth. If you follow any of them into their bar, restaurant or club, be prepared to get an oversized bill.
In just over two years, Thermae-Yu has become one of Kabukicho's most loved locations. It gets rave reviews both from locals and visitors. It's a six-floor onsen, with water trucked in every day from Shizuoka. The facilities are open 22 hours each day and more importantly, overnight. Many people use it as a place to spend the night after the last trains have left the station.
The baths, relaxation rooms, saunas, and spa are all first-rate. It is clean, safe, and even has good food. You may also want to plan to stay here one night, instead of as a last resort.