When leaving the world's biggest trainstation, Shinjuku-eki, to the east you will find yourself in yet another famous entertainment district of Tokyo. Although you can find "normal" things like Pachinko halls, clubs and bars, this part is most notorious for the red-light district Kabuki-chô (If this fact scares you be advised that Tokyo is the safest metropolis in the world and so is this district).
The main reason for going there as a tourist is the broad avenue Yasukuni-dôri which has one of the biggest and most famous line-up of neon advertising and is, of course, great to look at at night.
The advertising changes constantly so don't wonder when you should return to Tokyo another time that the place has changed completely.
The bustling centre of Shinjuku is the closest thing Tokyo has to a "downtown". Centred around the world`s largest train station, which swallows and spits out 2 million people every day, Shinjuku is the unmissble beating heart of the metropolis.
Like much of Tokyo its thin on "sights" but rich in experiences. The surprises start almost immediately. Starting from the East Gate of the train station, head under the little passageway directly to the left and you`ll come up in the area known as "P*ss Alley" - this little block, in the heart of the busiest district in one of the world`s busiest cities, has preserved a ramshackle little labyrinth of smoky bars, and down at heel restaurants untouched since the 1950s. Garish decorations hang over the streets, and the smell of yakitori fills the air. Local salarymen sit for an afterwork beer. Atmospheric.
Kabukicho- a 5 minute walk down buzzing streets of neon, hawkers and pachinko parlors, is Tokyo`s notorious vice distrinct but worth a stroll if only for the vibe of bright lights, busy streets, and hookers and small time crooks from all over the world.
If you walk down the main strip (so to speak!) you`ll come to a Subway sandwich-shop - just opposite is an easy to miss but lovely spot- a quiet little alleyway lined with bamboos and trees, like a little forest in the middle of the urban jungle. Notice the laundry hanging above in the branches?Homeless people wash their clothes here. Walk up this little laneway and you`ll come to "Golden Gai" - another atmospheric quarter of tiny , postwar bars cramped together, under the shadow of the beautiful Hanozono Temple (famed for its outdoor theatre performances and its Sunday kimono market).
Linger a minute n the temple garden and then walk through its red torrii gates, and soon youre back on the Vegas-like blazing canyon of Yasukuni Dorii- one fo Shinjuku`s main drags- almost a full loop back to the station!
Shinjuku is the hub of Tokyo, and Shinjuku Station is the most used in Japan, with over 1 million people passing thru everyday.
There are 3 main exits.
Take the "East Exit" for the high street shopping area,
the "South Exit" for the Times Square Shopping Centre and
the "West Exit" for the skyscraper and business zone.
NW of the station is Kabukicho - named for its Kabuki stage area, but now more famous for being Tokyo's adult area. English books and magazines can be found at Kinokuniya ...
Shinjuku (sometimes called Tokyo's Times Square) is a lot of fun to stroll around with the streets full of people. We jay-walked to get over to Citibank, and I was surprised; I hadn't seen anyone so much as cross against a light since I arrived. ("It's okay here," Jay assured me. "But don't try it anywhere else.") The lights and energy were amazing and some of the people we passed were surpassing strange. After a bit we reached Takashimaya. Sky bridges cross the Yamamote Japan rail line there, and the whole is quite strikingly beautiful. But the winds caught us as we hit the plaza, and it was unsettling to be on that sky bridge over the rail lines under those conditions. When we went down to the Oeno line (the deepest in the city), there were signs saying that certain surface routes were partially closed because of high winds. It reminded me of the cable car to Table Mountain, which stops running rather frequently because of the winds there.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building #1 not only has one of the best views of Tokyo, but it is free! The twin towers have an observation room at the top that gives a 360 degree view of the Tokyo area with nothing to block the view but the adjacent tower. It can't get any better than that. They say that on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji, but we didn't have such luck. But even on a rainy day the view is great.
There is, of course, a gift shop here, and also a bar/cafe. We stopped to relax for a drink, which was worth it for us after a long day of walking in Tokyo. But other than that, it is one of the best free sites in Tokyo.
Shinjuku is 1 of the wards of the metropolis of Tokyo. It’s become a most Asian country drop by point in Tokyo. Shinjuku is full of entertainment and shopping areas. Department store, electronics, restaurants and bars can be found most in this area. Shinjuku Station is also a busiest railway station in Tokyo. About 5 different Japan railway companies are running in this Shinjuku Line.
My goal, when emerging from the Shinjuku subway station, was to find the Metropolitan Government Building and take the elevator to the observation deck (it free). But I was immediately lost above ground. I had to go back underground to get my bearings. I consulted my books and soon realized that it is absolutely vital to exit the station correctly. I had mistakenly assumed that one could take any exit and find landmarks above ground. At some stations this may be true, but not Shinjuku, considered the busiest station in Tokyo. One side of the station is completely different from the other – by different I mean different cities.
The west side is a city of towering modern office buildings and the municipal buildings I was looking for.
The east side is a city of wild chaotic shopping, giant outdoor video screens, all night entertainment, and thriving sex establishments.
Spend time on each side.
Shinjuku is the place where you see the most tall buildings of Tokyo. Is the place where in the subway station a man wearing white glove is gently pusshing the people to make possible to close the trains doors ...
One side of Shinjuku station is for offices, univercities, and governmental institutes while the other side of the JR station is hosting shops and shops and even more shops but a bit further you can find Kabuki-cho where Tokyo's red light district is.
SHinjuku is a part of that has to be seen.
In Shinjuku you can find also the twin towers hosting Tokio Metropolitan Government. These towers are having two observatories which are for free and they offer great view of Tokyo. If you are lucky (not like me - I was waiting for weeks but every weekend was raining or very cloudy) you may even see th Mt. Fuji from the South Tower!
If you're at the towers don't forget to pick up some maps and other interesting and good info leaflets from Tokyo Tourist Information Board, located near the elevator that goes up to the North Observatory.
You can go up to both observatories but if you want to have a look just from 1 of them than I recommend the south tower because the observatory there is more spacious and you have access to more windows!
If you want to see a bird-eye view of Tokyo and the surrounding mountains, go to Shinjuku's Government metropolitian building where the observatory towers are free of charge. When you go up there, grab one of the brochure maps there, besides getting you around city, it also has numerous discount coupons to the main sightseeing attractions in Tokyo.
We spent the last half day of our trip around Japan back in Tokyo, staying in the Shinjuku district. Unfortunately we had some of the worst weather of our trip – driving rain and strong winds. This wasn’t conducive to proper exploration but we did grab our umbrellas and venture out of the hotel to see more of Shinjuku. The area to the west of its massive station (the busiest in the world!) consists mainly of skyscrapers, some of them very distinctive in design – I loved the so-called Cocoon Tower! But in the pouring rain it was hard to get decent photos – this one of it was taken the next morning from Shinjuku Station as we prepared to board the airport bus.
As well as checking out the architecture here, we visited the small but interesting Sompo Japan Museum of Art which as well as showcasing the work of Japanese Cubist-influenced artist Seiji Togo, has several notable Impressionist works including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (bought at the height of the 1980s bubble economy by the insurance company which owns the building for a then unprecedented five billion yen) and others by Gauguin and Cezanne. It’s not a large collection by any means, but a visit here is worthwhile if you are interested in art of this period, and especially in poor weather. See their English language website for more information including a map of the location.
Further west on the fringes of this area is the Metropolitan Government Building which is where we next headed.
If one is pressured for time I would strongly recommend taking along the free to obtain Tokyo Walks map and info guide. Comming out of the bussy train station its a bit dazzling and from my brief wander about the area a bit of a dissapointment. None the less I had wanted to see this part of Tokyo since viewing the late 1960s Japanese new wave film "Diary of a Shinjuku Thief", back at art school in the 1980s.
The view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (Tocho) is amazing. It may offer the best view of all of Tokyo. The Twin Towers are 243 meters tall there are excellent observatories on both of the tower's 45th floors. It's best to check out the view from each of the towers.
Another highlight to this experience is that it's free.
(It's hard to take a good ground view photo of this building -- it's so BIG).
The pseudo-twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices has an observatory near the top, which unlike almost everything in Tokyo, is absolutly free!
The views from the top are as good as that of Tokyo Tower, and are much lighter on your pocket as well.
The observatory is open until 10:00 pm, allowing time to see the city at night as well.
Shinjuku is a good place to shop and hang out. However, to get the best of this area, you have to walk... lots of it. Shops range from low-mid range. Not very expensive place to hang out in Tokyo context. Shops open till late. Best time to visit Shinjuku is in the night, where the place is lighted up with neon lights. It is so bright that I do not remember seeing any street lights in Shunjuku. Though nearby is a "red-light" district, however, these areas are still consider save to walk around.
Recommended 2 days should be sufficient if you are on tight schedule. However, if you have the time, 4 days would be good, especially if you are into shopping....
To all who visit Tokyo, Shinjuku is a place to go!
This is the standout memory I have of Tokyo. We would sometimes take the bus to Tokyo from Mishima and the let off station was at Shinjuku Station. So while waits were a plenty, Yukijohn would roam around the area. Directly next to the station, don't ask me what exit, a neighborhood exists that is in much a sense old Tokyo. Walking through, you'll pass a ton of noodle shops, inhabited by businessmen sipping away at the bowls. Wires, twisted metal and sign nearly graze your scalp. A taer in your skin here is sure to give you Rabies or worse yet, Tetnus.