Shinjuku is home to the red light district in Tokyo. There are no two ways about it, that is where go for the ho's. Believe me when I tell you that I did not know this before I stayed there. That being said, it is kind of fun to watch the guys getting nervoud trying to approach one. While Japan loves its sex, there is still the repressive about actually doing it.
The area itself has three sections. Don't worry though, because you can still find a McDonalds on every corner!
Shinjuku East: This is where most of the shopping is done. Check out My City or one of the many other stores that line the area. Be warned though, if you have to walk by the station you will get flooded with people.
Kabuki Cho: This is where you go to see the pretty ladies that charge for their services. Not for the kittens, but interesting to see once.
West Shinjuku: The largest concentration of Skyscrapers in Tokyo. It is the business district and unfortunately where I had my office. Hard to get to, because it is a bit of a walk, and addresses are impossible to find.
Other Areas: Not to be missed is Takashimiya Times Square. This is a shopping complex which is more modern than the old My City. The top three floors are places to go to to have fun.
Shinjuku Park. If you know what Cos-play is you will enjoy the sights in the park. If you don't know what it is, bring a camera. You will see people in Costumes looking for other adults who are similarly inclined, to play with (thus Cos-play).
Dress Code: In most places, it depends where you are going. But in Kabuki Cho, the red light ladies don't care about dress code.
With the Times Square (Takashimaya) shopping mall as the focus point, and lots of street shopping, small restaurants, a few food stalls, some pachinco parlours, some clubs, this part of Shinjuku is very much alive, day and night. Take a slow walk and take in the sights and sounds of Shinjuku.
I explored the streets nearby my hotel with a couple of my colleagues. We walked passed the Keio Plaza area and through some alleyways, and there were a number of ramen, sushi, tempura and beef rice shops. There were also a few nightclubs, a large shop selling cameras, computers & electrical accessories and a pachinko parlour called Aladdin and an AM-PM shop (like a 7-11).
If you ask me, yes, I felt it was safe enough and if I had been alone, I would have still explored the area on my own. No one hassled us or bothered us.
Tip: If exploring on your own, do bring a map along, because it is easy to lose your sense of direction and there aren't many English signs.
At Kabukicho,every kind of adult entertainment awaits you. From strip clubs and hostess bars to pachinko parlours and Love Hotels. (Although prostitution is illegal in Japan, enforcement of the law is almost nonexistent, and nowhere is there talk of a Bangkok-style cleanup.)
A unique store that I came across had bright neon lighting and looked just like a large record shop,but on the inside, instead of music CDs, it was filled with photographs of women, men and addresses & contact details of clubs and types of clubs.
My tour guide explained that this was a recent development, and it offered new type of service, basically as a one-stop information centre for those looking for certain types of adult entertainment.
The one in the picture carries the interesting name of Hot Men’s Box (HMB). For men (or women) who don't have time to shop around, this would be just the place to go!
Did you notice that the HMB lettering looks rather suspiciously like HMV records's lettering? hmmm
Dress Code: Act out your fantasies: The environment at the club could be a mock office, a classroom, a doctor's office. even, sexual harassment on a subway car! (caveat: all information here is strictly from the internet and not from my personal experience!!)
The Kabukicho district is Shinjuku’s adult entertainment district. It consists of only a few streets and alleyways, but it's tightly packed together with adult clubs of all sorts & specialties.
Apparently there are kyabakura, or cabaret clubs which offer lap dancing & Esthe clubs and pink salons, which offer sex massage. There are also imekura, or image clubs which involve all manner of sexual role-playing. Don't know much about those places, but if it takes your fancy, please check them out and let me know! : )
While most of the entertainment targets men, at a certain street, there were a number of clubs catering for women. (see tip below for more exciting details!)
Apart from these clubs, there are tiny ramen outlets and sushi bars, pachinko parlour and the infamous Love Hotels. The names of each are unique, creative and sometimes appear to have no meaning in the English language. For example, I came across a love hotel with the strange name of Hotel Labio.
Dress Code: As we were there rather early (before 9pm), & it was a rainy night, the streets were rather empty, but there were men in business suits standing under their umbrellas in front of each club in a rather proprietory manner. I also noticed a couple of young women wearing school-girl like uniforms with ultra-short pleated skirts.
There was also another group of ladies, obviously out on a smoke break, wearing knee length white faux-leather jackets with large buttons down the front (remember Emma Peel of The Avengers?) with tall leather boots, and peeking out from underneath I caught a glimpse of their long, filmy undershirts in hot red. I also saw a lady in traditional kimono, waving her friend goodbye before disappearing back into the club.
In a nutshell, anything goes!
There is something for everyone at Shinjuku's Kabukicho area. Apart from the usual entertainment for men, there are streets that are exclusively for women. Some clubs have photos of the available men and next to each, there is a number, with No.1, being the Most Popular Guy of the club, No. 2 being the next most popular and so on.
On the outside of one such club, my female colleague and I jokingly picked one of the men from the photo display and coincidentally picked the same guy! (a rather cute Japanese guy in his late 20's, clean-cut, with glasses, slightly studious looking), only to be informed by our guide that the picture was that of the club owner, who was a multi-millionaire and quite famous in Japan! hahaha (I guess we were lucky that it was early yet and the club was still closed! LOL)
Dress Code: No jacket required!
Shinjuku is one of the most interesting places in the world at night. And I can say that without having even entered a bar there. The crowds of people wandering through the streets and the bright lights make Shinjuku a visual feast that cannot be passed up. If you are hungry, there are plenty of fine restaurants -- I ate at a sushi place there that was delicious. If you are thirsty, there seeem to be plenty of great bars that I can't wait to try. And, if you want to see naked women, there seems to be plenty of that, too. Just find an African tout and he'll lead you to his favorite place! I'm sure of that, since they hounded me constantly being a guy alone when I was there in 1998.
Mostly, I like wandering around the crowds and lights of Sinjuku. When you think of Japanese nightlife, this is the image that come to mind!
Right in the heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku is a must see if you are visiting for the first time. The first place you are likely to see here is the station which is an experience in itself, but probably best avoided in rush hour (apparantly 3 million people pass through every day!).
Leave the station through the east exit and you will walk out into the shopping area with lots of shops, huge screens and flashing neon signs everywhere. It looks best at night. The shops stay open late and in the area called Kabukicho there are many Karaoke places, arcades, hostess bars and Pachinko parlours to choose from. If you are looking for somewhere to eat or a bar they are either in the basements or on the top floors.
If you look around you can find some places to get away from the hustle and bustle. Right near the station under a dodgy looking subway will take you to an area known as "*** ally" which is a couple of narrow allyways crammed with small yakitori places (not as bad as the name suggests). Also if you walk along the main strip on the left hand side of the road coming from the station, keep an eye out for a sign to Shinjuku Bunka Center. There is an allyway here that is lined with bamboo which is a bit unexpected. Also around this area is Golden Gai that is a street lined with old bars and the Hanazono Shrine that is a very peaceful spot at night (walk along the bamboo lined ally to get there, it is about half way down on the right).
Shinjuku is where all the train lines seem to meet. Easy to get there and wander around seeing how young and old Japanese like to spend their nights away.
Many cinemas and shops opening late at night. Kabukichyo is the red light district nearby.
With over 1.5 million people passing through it's train station every day, this central hub offers something for everyone.
The town that never sleeps is a study in contrasts: Tranquil Shinjuku-Gyoen park looks up at dazzling modern skyscrapers. Theaters stand beside Kabuki-cho's sleazy dens of sin. Densely-packed discount shops bid for business with delux department stores, while high-rise restaurants look down on yakitori shacks.
The world's busiest train station is the perfect place to start your tour. A visit during morning rush hour will trample any 'Japanese are polite' myths Trev and Tracy Tourist might treasure. Elbows out, head down, charge for that seat. At night, drunk salarymen steal the spotlight as they scramble for their last trains while dancing around platform pizzas, i.e. piles of puke!
To get out of the madness take the "East Exit" for the high street shopping area and the red-light district of Kabukicho, the "South Exit" for the Takashima Times Square Shopping Center and the "West Exit" for the skyscraper and business zone.
Dress Code: Anything goes here as the Japanese people don't really care what you wear when you're out. :)
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