50 Things to Do in Shinjuku

Centered around the station with the largest number of passengers passing through it in the whole of Japan, Shinjuku has everything, from spectacular views from the skyscrapers, to great entertainment, delicious food and so many shops you’ll be sure to find whatever you’re after. And to top it off, the nightlife is absolutely fantastic!

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1. Sightseeing tour around Shinjuku [Sightseeing]

If it’s your first time in Shinjuku, we recommend the free English language sightseeing tour service provided by the ward. The tour will take you through Southern Terrace and Takashima Times Square, and then onto the East Entrance shopping area, before going to the basement food court of Isetan Department Store (as you can imagine, you have to pay for everything you buy yourself), and to the traditional performing arts theater, Shinjuku Suehirotei. 

2. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Gallery [Sightseeing]

The observation gallery is open to the public for free from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily (last admittance to the gallery is at 10:30 p.m.). At a height of 202m, the gallery offers a fabulous view of Tokyo, and just like Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, you will be able to see the majestic Mount Fuji from there, too! The gallery also has a cafe.

Free English guided tours for the government building that includes the observation gallery, are also available.

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3. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden [Sightseeing]

The present garden used to be the residence of a feudal lord but in 1906, during the Edo period, the residence was developed as a garden for the imperial family. The 58.3 ha garden is decorated with rows of sycamore trees and there are also beautiful French-style gardens as well. Crowds of visitors will come to see the different blossoms during different seasons, especially during spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Do come and visit this garden especially since the entrance fee is only a mere ¥200!


4. Hanazono Shrine [Sightseeing]

Hanazono Shrine has been the shrine of the Shinjuku district since before the start of the Edo Shogunate in 1603. The enshrined deity is called Ukanomitama, and is the god of agriculture, so if you’re looking to have some good food while your in Shinjuku, we why not come and visit the shrine? The shrine is located right in front of Exit E2 of the Shinjuku San-chome station or is a 7-minute walk from Shinjuku station's East exit. 

5. Kumano Shrine, Shinjuku Juniso [Sightseeing]

Kumano Shrine was established about 600 years ago and it enshrines one of Shinjuku's local deities. The shrine is tucked away near Shinjuku Central Park among the high-rise buildings. You might have the chance to see some beautiful Japanese brides in there wedding kimonos here on the weekends. The shrine houses the great god Kushimikenunomi, which is a god of seas and storms (and is also known as Susanoo-no-Mikoto) and the great god Izanami. 

6. Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art [Arts]

This musuem is famous for being the residence of Van Gogh's Sunflowers, but apart from this famous masterpiece, you shouldn't miss the works of one of Japan's great oil painters, Seiji Togo, known for his enchanting depictions of women. Seigi Togo spent 7 years studying in France from 1921, knew Picasso personally, attended the National School of Fine Arts of Lyon and was awarded by the French government with the title, Officier d'ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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7. Shinjuku Central Park [Sightseeing]

This 88,000m² park, located among the many skyscrapers in Shinjuku is ideal for many occasions. You can enjoy a jog here early in the morning, or you can come here during lunch hours and enjoy your onigiris (rice balls) or sandwiches on the park benches. There is also a playground for children as well.

8. Pasela Resorts Shinjuku (Karaoke Entertainment Facility) [Activity]

Did you know that the karaoke boxes in Japan also offer English, Chinese and Korean songs as well? If you are ever in the mood for a bit of karaoke, head to Shinjuku's entertainment district and you will be spoiled for choice. We recommend Pasela Resorts because the place is clean and the kitchen offers delicious menus. The honey toast is especially popular among their female patrons. If you are worried about the charges, head there during the day time for some good value karaoke plans!

9. Calico Cat Café [Activity]

Photo by tsunagu Japan

Calico is one of the largest cat cafes in the capital, both for its size and the number of cats in the cafe, which is over 50. The café is located on the 5th and 6th floor of a building just two buildings away from the retail store, Don Quixote. If you feel a little worn out from all the shopping, sight-seeing and the massive crowds, come over to refresh yourself with a cup of tea and the company of the cats. 

10. Shinjuku Suehirotei [Entertainment]

Rakugo is a traditional form of storytelling entertainment that started during the Edo period and has been preserved to this day. The events are carried out in a vaudeville style and there are supportive fans to this day. There are only 4 rakugo facilities left in the capital and Suehirotei is the only one that is in a wooden building structure, which was built in 1894. Please note that the rakugo performances are all conducted in Japanese.  


11. Transformation Studio -Rei & R's [Activity]

It is a photo studio catering for both men and women. Here you get to dress in courtesan costumes, traditional Japanese kimonos or Gothic and Lolita costumes and have your pictures taken. You can customize your shoot with a wide variety of costumes, accessories, knick-knacks and a number of backgrounds to choose from. You can also bring your own costume along! The photos taken will make quite a keepsake to remind you of your trip to Japan!

12. esNAIL [Beauty]

esNAIL is a nail salon that equipped with reclining chairs for you to relax in while you have your nails pampered. They also have a branch in Beverly HIlls. While you can find nail salons all over the world, why not treat yourself to great customer service and the high level of skill of the Japanese nails artists, and go back home to show your beautiful nails to your friends? And as this is Japan, kawaii nail styling is ok!

13. TAITO STATION [Entertainment]

Play games till you drop here even if you don't understand a word of Japanese with the wide range of games on offer, from shooting games with great Japanimation based CG, dance games or taiko rhythm games. You mustn't miss out on the arcade games here because Japan is after all the land of games! This is a great alternative for those who do not have the money or time to go to an amusement park in Japan.

14. Isetan Shinjuku [Shopping] [Food & Drink]

Out of all the many department stores in Tokyo, none can offer you as glamorous a shopping experience as Isetan. Here, you will be spoiled for choice, not only in the fashion department but also in the food court in the basement, where you can enjoy trendy deli food and desserts! You’re sure to be amazed at the beautiful window displays, too!

15. BICQLO [Shopping]

Shinjuku also has a lot of electronics stores but none as unique as BICQLO, which is a combined Bic Camera (electronics store) and Uniqlo (clothes store). So while dad and the boys are busy deciding which SONY television to buy, mum and the girls can have some fun at Uniqlo.

16. The Daiso (100 yen shop) [Shopping]

For those who think that the prices in Japan are too high, have you ever heard of Daiso? At Daiso, every item is priced at ¥108. You can find pretty much anything there, from stationery, to kitchen utensils, to cosmetics and lifestyle goods. You will definitely be able to find some great value for money items here!

17. Don Quixote [Shopping]

One out of every two tourists who visit Japan will definitely have stepped foot into Don Quixote! This is a big convenient discount store that sells electronics, daily goods, food, watches, fashion items, sports, leisure goods and more! You will come out satisfied with all the bargains you can find in this store!

18. Tokyu Hands [Shopping]

Did your suitcase just break?! Well fear not. Come here and you can find the travel bag that meets all your needs! And of course, Tokyu Hands not only carries travel goods, but a wide range of products, including daily goods, DIY items, unique Japanese party items and so on. Here you can also find beautiful postcards to send to your family and friends while you are traveling in Japan. This store is located in the same building as Takashimaya. 

19. Sanrio Gift Gate Adhoc SHINJUKU [Shopping]

I am sure you know Hello Kitty, Japan's Superstar. This is the first Hello Kitty gift store in Japan and just like the other Sanrio shops in Japan, there is a big Hello Kitty statue at the entrance, which makes for a great photo opportunity! Inside the store, you will find all sorts of cute Sanrio items to buy as souvenirs!

20. Mosaic Street [Shopping]

So have you bought souvenirs for everyone back home yet? If you haven't and you are looking for something fashionable for a female family member or friend, we suggest you to come to Mosaic Street here in Shinjuku. For something traditional that is cute and modern too, come to Koiki that prides on original Tokyo souvenirs. This shopping street also has cosmetic stores that sell locally made cosmetic goods.

Another Japanese activity is bar hopping. Try it out with this tour!

Tokyo Bar Hopping Night Tour in Shinjuku

It can be quite hard to find non-touristy izakayas in Tokyo. Luckily there are tours that run visitors across many of the popular bars in a short thime to give every a good feel for the city night life. One of the more popular ones, Tokyo Bar Hopping Night Tour in Shinjuku, will let you hop into hidden local izakays across Shinjuku, where you can enjoy drinking with authentic Japanese bar foods and chat with the locals!


Next: No.21-40 Further exciting spots and activities in Shinjuku

Kanto Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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