This page is a little out of date. I will be updating these area guides soon but until then, please visit my Tokyo Shopping Guide for my favourite shops and My Japan Trips page for sightseeing ideas and lots of Japan links and guides.
Shinjuku at night. Photo by Psycho Crow.
Shinjuku is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo. While Shibuya may be more hip and trendy, Shinjuku is your classic snapshot of modern Japan – neon, skyscrapers, shopping malls and a convenience store on every corner. It’s also the location of many business and chain hotels so it’s quite likely you’ll be staying in this area. While there’s plenty of shops and restaurants, Shinjuku is a little lacking in sightseeing, and it’s all pretty sprawling – the station itself is enough to tire you out. So while it makes a great base (you can get a train or subway to pretty much anywhere), you’ll probably spend more time in other areas. But if you only have a short time in Tokyo, you can get a lot of things ticked off here.
My Shinjuku Highlights
A large multi-floor branch is in Times Square so you can get your fill of stationery, homeware and novelty gifts. See my full post.
A wonderful craft store packed full of fabric, supplies, craft books, kits and much more. Not to be confused with Odakyu on the map. See my full post.
Tucked away in the Takashimaya department store is a small branch of this legendary craft store (the huge branch in Kichijoji is talked about with awe amongst crafters). You’ll find a reasonable range of fabrics and more but don’t expect too much.
Also in Takashimaya is a decent sized Uniqlo full of their good quality, good value simple clothing for guys and girls.
A haven for book, mook and magazine lovers, not to mention all the stationery. It would be easy to spend a few hours here, and no-one will mind if you do! There are two branches in Shinjuku.
For just ¥200 you can escape the madness of Shinjuku for this beautiful garden. The entrance fee means it’s better looked after and less crowded than the free parks and it has very photogenic ponds and lakes. It’s pretty big too so you can get some exercise or just put your feet up.
Metropolitan Government Building
Head here for the tourist office (with English maps) and the free observation floor. Considering the prices charged for Mori Tower or Sunshine 60, this is well worth doing. It also has a pretty good gift shop for traditional and kawaii souvenirs.
What else to see?
You can find just about anything here (including the red light district). There are many many shopping malls for fashion and beauty, lots of big brand and electronics stores and Studio Alta is great for teenage girls. There’s also plenty places to eat (try the restaurant floor at Times Square) and lots of little alleys to explore.
Shinjuku station is apparently the busiest train station in the world and it’s massive and very easy to get lost in, with what seems like hundreds of exits and lines. It’s extremely likely you’ll find yourself passing through it at some point – make sure you know where you’re going and follow the signs, no matter what!
The main East Exit will take you out to Studio Alta, Okadaya and lots of shops and restaurants. For Takashimaya Times Square, take the New South Exit or South Terrace exit and you should be able to see the signs. If not, it’s up some steps, along past Starbucks and Krispy Kreme and across the bridge to your left.
The Metropolitan Government Building is signposted within the station, through a very long and boring subway. At least you won’t get lost!
For Shinjuku Gyoen, you’re best to take the subway to Shinjuku-gyoemmae.