Walking on Drift Ice
Shinjuku (新宿) is one of the 23 city wards of Tokyo, but the name commonly refers to just the large entertainment, business and shopping area around Shinjuku Station.
Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. It is served by about a dozen railway and subway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line. Shinjuku is also one of Tokyo's major stops for long-distance highway buses. A large bus terminal, named Busta Shinjuku, is conveniently located on top of the railway station.
West of the station is Shinjuku's skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo's tallest buildings, including several premier hotels and the twin towers of the Metropolitan Government Office, whose observation decks are open to the public for free.
Northeast of the station lies Kabukicho, Japan's largest and wildest red light district, while department stores, subterranean malls and electronic shops surround Shinjuku Station on all four sides, including the redeveloped Southern Terrace.
Shinjuku Skyscraper District
Restaurants: Hours vary but are typically from 11:00 to 23:00. Some restaurants close for a few hours between lunch and dinner.
The area west of Shinjuku Station is home to a large number of skyscrapers including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and leading hotels such as the Keio Plaza, Hilton, Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt (featured in Lost in Translation). Several of the skyscrapers have shops and restaurants on their ground floors and additional restaurants with great views of the city on their top floors.
Restaurants: Typically 11:00 to 24:00 (some open 24 hours)
Bars: Typically from 19:00 or 20:00 until the next morning
Closed: Some establishments are closed on Sundays
Named after a kabuki theater, whose construction plans have never been realized, Japan's largest red light district features countless restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pachinko parlors, love hotels and a wide variety of red light establishments for all sexes and sexual orientations. Explore with caution and beware of exorbitant cover fees and drink spiking resulting in loss of cash and credit cards. The latter typically occurs at establishments run by non-Japanese patrons and is initiated by touts targeting foreign tourists.
Hours: Typically from 19:00 or 20:00 until the next morning
Closed: Typically Sundays
Golden Gai is a small, atmospheric nightlife district in Kabukicho packed with over 200 small bars and eateries. Most places are very small, seating only a few customers, and typically cater to a few regular customers. A few of the bars openly welcome foreign guests with signs and menus set outside listing prices in English.
Restaurants: Typically from 17:00 to 24:00 (some are open for lunch)
Closed: Irregular closing days
Omoide Yokocho (lit. memory lane), also known under its more colorful nickname Piss Alley, is a small network of alleyways along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station. The narrow lanes are filled with dozens of tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi, yakitori and kushiyaki. Many restaurants consist of just one counter with some chairs, while others have a couple of tables.
Shop and restaurant hours vary
Shin-Okubo Koreatown is a collection of Korean shops and restaurants found along the main road and side streets around Shin-Okubo Station, one stop north of Shinjuku Station. Many of the shops and restaurants are operated by Korean immigrants and sell a variety of Korean goods, including K-Pop music, videos and groceries.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office
Hours: 9:30 to 23:00 (Entry until 22:30)
Closed: Dec 29 to Jan 3 (except Jan 1) and occasional inspection days
The 243 meter tall twin towers and surrounding buildings contain the offices and the assembly hall of the metropolitan government of Tokyo, as well as observatories on the 45th floor of each tower. The view from the southern tower is considered slightly more interesting.
Hours: 9:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Closed: Mondays (or the next day if Monday is a holiday), and December 29 to January 3. There are no closure days from late March to late April (cherry blossoms) and in the first half of November (chrysanthemums).
Admission: 200 yen
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo's largest and most pleasant parks and one of the city's best cherry blossom viewing spots. It was opened to the public in 1949, after it had served as a garden for the Imperial Family since 1903.
Hours: Always open
This public park directly behind the Tokyo Metropolitan Government twin towers houses Kumano Shrine (Kumano Jinja) as well as a sizable homeless population living in blue tarp shanties and cardboard box homes.
Hours: 10:30 to 20:00
Restaurants: Typically 11:00 to 22:00
With a history of over 100 years Isetan is a veteran among Shinjuku's department stores. The Shinjuku store is Isetan's flagship and consists of ten floors, including restaurants on the top floors and a food department in the basement.
Hours: 10:00 to 20:00 (Fridays and Saturdays until 20:30)
Restaurants: 11:00 to 23:00
Closed: January 1 (except restaurants)
Opened in 1996, the Shinjuku branch of Takashimaya consists of 15 floors, including a food department in the basement and three restaurant floors. It is the main store of the "Takashimaya Times Square" complex that also houses a Tokyu Hands branch and Kinokuniya book store with a large foreign language section.
Hours: 10:00 to 20:30 (Sundays until 20:00)
Restaurants: 11:00 to 22:30
Odakyu Department Store consists of 16 floors, including a wonderful food department in the basement and restaurants on its top floors. The department store belongs to the Odakyu Group, which also operates a suburban railway line from Shinjuku to Odawara (Odakyu is an abbreviation for "Odawara Express").
Hours: 10:00 to 20:30 (Sundays and holidays until 20:00)
Restaurants: 11:00 to 22:00
Keio Department Store consists of 11 floors, including a food department in the basement and several restaurants on the restaurant floor. The department store belongs to the Keio Group, which also operates a suburban railway line from Shinjuku to western Tokyo.
Hours: 11:00 to 21:30
Restaurants: 11:00 to 22:30
Lumine is owned by JR East and located both next to and above Shinjuku Station's South and East Exits. Lumine is divided into "Lumine 1" and "Lumine 2" on either side of the South Exit and "Lumine Est" (formerly known as "My City") above the East Exit.
Hours: 11:00 to 21:00 (Mosaic Dori from 10:00)
Restaurants: 11:00 to 23:00
Mylord offers seven floors of shopping and three restaurant floors. The complex also includes "Mosaic Dori", a narrow pedestrian street between the Keio and Odakyu department stores. Mylord is affiliated with the Odakyu Group.
Hours: 9:30 to 22:00
Yodobashi Camera is one of Japan's leading discount electronics retailers, and especially strong on camera equipment. Yodobashi's main store is divided up between half a dozen buildings near the west exit of Shinjuku Station, while a smaller branch is located near the station's east exit.
Hours: 10:00 to 21:00
Closed: No closing days
Bic Camera is another of Japan's leading discount electronics retailers. It has two large stores in Shinjuku: one in the Odakyu Halc Building near the station's west exit and one east of the station near the Isetan department store.
Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 (longer hours at the outlet near Kabukicho)
Yamada Denki is one of Japan's most successful electronics chains, and has opened two large branches in Shinjuku: one northeast of Shinjuku Station near the entrance to Kabukicho, and one near Yodobashi Camera's main store on the station's west side.
Shinjuku Station is Japan's busiest railway station, served by about a dozen railway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line.
From Tokyo Station
The frequently departing, orange trains on the JR Chuo Line (Rapid Service) take less than 15 minutes and cost 200 yen from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station.
From Ueno Station
By JR Yamanote Line it takes 25 minutes and costs 200 yen to get from Ueno to Shinjuku. A slightly faster alternative is to take the JR Yamanote or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line from Ueno to Kanda Station, and then the JR Chuo Line from Kanda to Shinjuku.
information source: japan-guide.com