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A sign for a restaurant in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Kabukicho.
A sign for a restaurant in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Kabukicho.

Shinjuku Tokyo Japan: Is it Worth Visiting?

Devon Lord-MoncriefDevon Lord-Moncrief
Published Time
Posted on May 31, 2024

Like many parts of Tokyo, Japan, the history of Shinjuku dates back hundreds of years. During the 17th century, it became a location for many temples and shrines to be built. It also became the site of a new station built alongside Koshu Kaido, hence its name, Shin (new) Juku (station.)

In the years since Shinjuku has developed into a bustling section of Tokyo. It’s full of skyscrapers, great restaurants, and charming bars. With the sheer amount of things to do and see in Shinjuku, is it worth visiting in Tokyo? Here are some things you can do in the area!

Picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden!

Despite how impressively large Tokyo may be, there are still places of fantastic beauty to enjoy during good weather. The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a beautiful example of the natural beauty that can be found throughout the city. Once the private land of the Naito family, the garden is now a national garden that all are welcome to enjoy.

A Japanese garden in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular park with beautiful gardens! Image via Shutterstock

Omoide Yokocho

Translating to “Memory Lane,” Omoide Yokocho is one of many famous alleys in Shinjuku that offers an unparalleled dining experience. Narrow alleys are lined with countless restaurants, bars, and izakaya, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy a hot meal with a cold beverage. If a timeless night out for good food is what you’re after, Omoide Yokocho is a surefire place to visit.

Enjoy a Free View from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, once the largest building in Tokyo, offers visitors two free observation decks. These decks give excellent views of Tokyo, including the sights of Mt. Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and more. Visiting the free decks is well worth a visit, as the building also offers a café and shop.

Experience Golden Gai

Golden Gai is one of Shinjuku’s most intimate locations, often visited by poets, writers, actors, musicians, and other artists. It comprises six narrow alleys that are positively cramped with bars and dives. Visitors should know which establishments allow foreigners and which allow photography, as many can be exclusive.

Golden Gai at night.
Golden Gai is home to hundreds of bars! Image via Shutterstock

Spot Godzilla in Shinjuku!

Easily the most famous lizard in Hollywood, Godzilla has become a national icon for Japan. For fans who wish to see the giant monster in person (just without fear of being caught in his breath), Godzilla can be found on top of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. Seeing him at night is the ideal time to visit, but be aware of the massive crowds that can fill the streets.

Are you looking for amazing snacks while on the lookout for Godzilla? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest treats directly from Japan!

3D Cat Billboard

Shinjuku has one of the most famous and unique billboards in Tokyo. Through clever optical illusion technology, a massive billboard near Shinjuku Station looks like a giant, 3D cat is living inside it. It’s a fun sight to see at least once, and as it’s a quick walk from the train station, taking a few minutes to see it isn’t hard at all.

The 3D Cat Billboard in Shinjuku.
This 3D Cat Billboard can’t be found anywhere else! Image via Shutterstock

Hanazono Shrine

It can be straightforward to miss the most crucial shrine in Shinjuku, but for visitors willing to take a few extra minutes to keep their eyes out, Hanazono Shrine is gorgeous. The shrine has existed since before Ieyasu Tokugawa took control of Tokyo (then known as Edo), making it an ancient part of the city. It offers peace and solitude in an otherwise bustling part of Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

Kabukicho

Kabukicho is the wildest section of Shinjuku, and for good reason. As the city’s most prominent entertainment district, Kabukicho contains host and hostess clubs and other fun establishments. Despite its unusual reputation, Kabukicho can be fascinating if you know where to go!

The Kabukicho sign at night.
Kabukicho is the ultimate entertainment district! Image via Shutterstock

Experience the world’s busiest train station!

At first, you may scoff at Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train station. However, if you attempt to board a train during peak rush hour, the experience will leave you speechless. Passengers cram into the train cars like sardines packed tightly together. The constant flow of people moving through the station dizzies you. Navigating to the correct platform feels like a physical challenge.

However, despite the overwhelming crowds, Japan’s rail systems are remarkable in efficiency and effectiveness. Even amidst the chaos, every passenger manages to arrive at their destination on time, a testament to the system’s reliability and organization.

Where can I stay in Shinjuku?

Shinjuku is home to many high-quality hotels for visitors to stay in. But for those traveling on a budget, there are plenty of cheaper Air BnBs, which are just as good as any smaller hotel chain. Spending a night in a capsule hotel is a very affordable and memorable experience for the more adventurous.

A hotel in Shinjuku.
There are different types of hotels for you to enjoy! Image via Shutterstock

Is Shinjuku too popular?

To suggest that Shinjuku is “too popular” is to say that Tokyo is too ridden with tourist traps. Whether you visit Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Akihabara, every Tokyo ward has unique landmarks, stores, restaurants, and history. As the biggest city in the world, countless people from across the globe come to visit Tokyo each year!

Have you ever been to Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan before? If so, what did you do there? Did you get to see Godzilla? Please let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear about your adventures in Shinjuku!

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