12 Best Things to do in Shinjuku Tokyo (2023) | The Whole World Is A Playground (2023)

With its towering skyscrapers, crowded streets and neon lights Shinjuku is the Tokyo you’ve imagined from the movies. One of Tokyo’s bustling subcenters, Shinjuku is the city’s hub for eating, drinking, entertainment and shopping and there are endless things to do in Shinjuku. From its tinyyakitori bars to the world’s busiest train station, Shinjuku is fascinating at every turn.We’ve put together our ultimate guide with the best things to do in Shinjuku. Happy planning!

12 Best Things to do in Shinjuku Tokyo (2023) | The Whole World Is A Playground (1)

Table of Contents

1 | Memory Lane

What started as an illegal drinking quarter in the mid-1900sis now one of the most charming and gritty lanes in Tokyo. Tucked behind Shinjuku Station, Memory Lane is home to a collection of tiny yakitori bars that are reminiscent of a Japan of days gone by. An abundance of beer and the absence of toilets in its heyday resulted in its nickname, Piss Alley. Memory Lane is the hangout of Japanese salarymen and the atmosphere is dark and moody with red lanterns lighting up the alley and yakitori smoke filling the air.

Shinjuku things to do tip:Budget to spend at least a few hours Memory Lane to really experience the area.Grab a seat at one of the tiny bars, order some beers and yakitori and chat to the staff and other patrons.

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Tokyo Essentials: Sim Card, Internet and Subway

One of the best investments you can make for your trip to Japan is to buy/rent a sim card or 4G hotspot. This will give you internet access while on the go. We have used both sim cards and 4G hotspots during our trips to Japan. A sim card is perfect if you just have your phone while the 4G hotspots are great if you have multiple devices that need internet or if you’re travelling a group. They also avoid any compatibility issues with installing a sim card.

We used the Klook app to order our sim cards for our last trip. The app is great as you can order in advance and pick up on arrival or from various departure cities.

Click here to order your sim card or 4G hotspot now

Depending on the duration of your stay, a 24, 48 or 72 hour subway pass is invaluable for navigating the city. We saved so much yen by using our 3 day subway pass for sightseeing trips rather than paying for each individual journey. The passes can be picked up at one of the designated arrival airports in Japan. The pass works for unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines – check prices now!

Click here to order your Tokyo subway pass

2 | Robot Restaurant

Shinjuku is famous for its themed restaurantsand diners can choose between a variety of eclectic themes including fishing for the food, being served by ninjas or feasting on a blood themed spread with vampires. Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant is the most famous of them all: neon lights, laser beams, techno music blasting and warrior princesses riding 10 foot tall robots among samurais, and ninjas. It’s the epitome of Tokyo and the most super touristy thing you will ever do in your life but, at this point, it’s almost a rite of the tourist passage in Tokyo! Klook sells discounted tickets which we used to save some yen on the admission fee – click here to book your spot at the Robot Restaurant!

Click here to book the Robot Restaurant

Things to do in Shinjuku tip:It’s not really a restaurant (don’t expect fine dining!), there’s lots of queuing (make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your reservation as they are very strict and will cancel the non refundable reservation if you’re not there) and drinks are overpriced…. but hey, it’s Tokyo and this is a wild night out and crazy to watch!!

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Where to stay in Shinjuku

  • Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo:amazing Shinjuku location close to the bars and restaurants with nice rooms, great staff and good value prices for Tokyo – check prices here!
  • Tokyu Stay Shinjuku:great location close to the trains and the nightlife with compact rooms and good facilities at a reasonable price check prices here!
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo:luxury in the heart of Shinjuku with incredible views from the 52nd floor New York bar. Perfect for reliving some Lost in Translation moments – check prices here!

Click here to book your Shinjuku Hotel

3 | Don Quijote Shop

Shopping is a national past time in Japan and the maze of shop filled streets in Shinjuku make it a perfect spot to experience the fun stores that Japan has to offer. Don Quijote is a chain of Japan discount stores which stock an eclectic range of products and we spent hours roaming the aisles giggling at what was on offer: from singing fish that hang on the wall to ridiculous outfits and trinkets. Apparently its the only shop in the world that stocks yoghurt and Cartier watches!

4 | Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is a short stroll from Shinjuku Station and its free observation deck, 202 metres above the city, boasts one of the best views of the city. When the weather is clear the views are incredible: Tokyo Tower and the Skytree are visible and, on a perfect day, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji.

5 | Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nippon Koa Museum of Art

The Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nippon Koa Museum of Art exhibits both Japanese and international artworks. One of it’s most famous pieces, the Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh, attracts many visitors and was breathtaking to see. The museum is located on the 42nd floor of a Shinjuku skyscraper and the panoramic views of Tokyo are a bonus to any visit.

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6 | Kabukicho District

The Red Light district of Kabukicho is a totalassault on the senses. Crammed full of shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and famous Japanese love hotels, Kabukicho is the Tokyo that never sleeps. It’s famous for its themed restaurants(think fishing, robots and ninjas), host and hostess clubs and a seedy underbelly where girls can be purchased on an iPad.

Things to do in Shinjuku tip:Kabukicho is best experienced after dark when the streets are lit with neon lights and the area springs to life. Just be careful where you choose to frequent: if someone is trying to encourage you inside a venue it’s most likely going to have high prices and hidden charges.

7 | Shinjuku Station

It’s the world’s busiest train station and Shinjuku Train Station even holds the Guinness World Record as confirmation! It handles a mindblowing 3.6million passengers every day and, with over 200 entrances and 36 platforms, it’s hard to imagine just how big this train station is. It’s like a mini city in the west of Tokyo. Visiting the station at any time of the day is an experience: thousands of commuters stream through the station with each passenger following marked paths to the platforms before queuing at the train doors.

Things to do in Shinjuku tip: rush hour at Shinjuku Staiton is crazy as commuters pack in and it is standing room only on most of the platforms. There’s even a chance you might see the ‘pushers’, the designated rail staff helping to cram people into incredibly packed train carriages like sardines.

8 | Samurai Museum

Shinjuku’s Samurai Museum is a recent hit with tourists to Tokyo and exhibits include samurai swords, armour and guns with visitors also able to dress up in some samurai armour for a fun photo opportunity.

12 Best Things to do in Shinjuku Tokyo (2023) | The Whole World Is A Playground (13)
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9 | Godzilla

Keep an eye out for the life-sized Godzilla peeking out from over the 8th floor of the Toho Building beside the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. Godzilla lights up and blows smoke on the hour.

Shinjuku best things to do tips:if you want to get up close and personal with Godzilla go to Level 8 of the Hotel Gracery for some selfies!

10 | Shinjuku Gyoen

If you need to escape the buzz of Shinjuku, the sprawling Shinjuku Gyoen Park is a slice of tranquillity in the busy city. The huge park has 20,000 trees, beautiful gardens and a picturesque pond and it includes English, French and Japanese Gardens.

Shinjuku best things to do tip: there are hundreds of sakura trees in Shinjuku Gyoen and it’s one of Tokyo’s most popular spots during cherry blossom season

12 Best Things to do in Shinjuku Tokyo (2023) | The Whole World Is A Playground (15)

11 | Golden Gai

Similar to Memory Lane on the west of Shinjuku train station, Golden Gai is to the east of Shinjuku Station and is comprised of six tiny alleys connected by narrow passageways. The area originated in the 1950s and is home toover 200 tiny bars, clubs and places to eat. It’s a popular spot for bar hopping and still attracts many locals as well as tourists who love taking a step back in time.

Things to do in Shinjuku tip:Golden Gai is a local hang out and some of the bars are restricted to locals only and have a no photography rule, both of which you will need to respect. At first it’s easiest to venture into spots like Kenzo, Albatross and Bar Orange but most bars will make it clear if they’re tourist friendly or if there is a cover charge. A lot of the spots are cash only so bring some extra Yen if you plan to spend an evening there.


12 | New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Hotel

The movie Lost in Translation was shot in Shinjuku and Shibuya and the Park Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku was the setting for some of its most famous scenes. It was in the Park Hyatt where Bob and Charlotte, played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, stay and meet and in the New York Bar on the 52nd floor where Bob spends most evenings.

Things to do in Shinjuku tip:the views of Tokyo from the New York bar are incredible and the bar charges premium prices – if you’re planning a visit, the cheapest beer on the menu is about $10.


What is Shinjuku best known for? ›

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.

Why is Shinjuku so popular? ›

Shinjuku is one of the must-visit areas in Tokyo, best known as the best entertainments districts in the city. The district offers lavish nightlife decorated with flashy neon lights and it's considered as the biggest red light district in Tokyo.

How long does it take to explore Shinjuku? ›

You can visit most of these Shinjuku attractions in a couple of days and the majority are within a 15-minute walk of Shinjuku Station—you'll find a Shinjuku map at the end.

Which is the best shopping street in Japan? ›

Survey ranks the 10 best shotengai shopping streets in Tokyo
  • Ameya Yokocho. Ameya Yokocho, usually just shortened to Ameyoko, is one of Ueno's most buzzing areas. ...
  • Kichijoji Sun Road. ...
  • Asakusa Nakamise Shotengai. ...
  • Nakano Broadway. ...
  • Musashi Koyama Palm. ...
  • Aoyama Kila-dori. ...
  • Togoshi Ginza Shotengai. ...
  • Sunshine 60-dori Shotengai.
Dec 23, 2022

How much money do I need per day in Japan? ›

According to some, a low daily budget for Japanese travel is about $26.00 to $69.00 USD, a mid-range daily budget is about $69.00 to $140.00 USD, and a high daily budget is anything above this.

How much money do you need a day in Tokyo? ›

A Realistic Daily Budget for a Tokyo Trip

Factoring in accommodations, meal fees, transportation, entry fees, souvenir prices, the average tourist will spend around 20,000-25,000 yen for a day in Tokyo.

How much money do you need for 1 week in Tokyo? ›

So, a trip to Tokyo for two people for one week costs on average ¥277,816 ($2,058). All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget. A vacation to Tokyo for one week usually costs around ¥138,908 for one person.

Where is the best place for Americans to stay in Tokyo? ›

The best areas to stay in Tokyo for tourists are Shinjuku and Ginza. Other good places to stay in Tokyo are Tokyo Station, Shibuya and Asakusa. It is best to stay near JR Yamanote train line or any subway line for easy access to Tokyo tourist sites.

Where should I stay in Japan for the first time? ›

As a first-timer in Japan, you should definitely visit the main tourist spots like Tokyo, Kyoto, and/or Osaka. In addition, you can also visit some isolated areas such as some beautiful islands like Hokkaido and Okinawa!

Where is the red light district in Shinjuku? ›

Kabukicho is a district located in Shinjuku ward, in the West of Tokyo. While the whole family can visit it throughout day time, there is a strong "adult" atmosphere once the moon has risen.

How much is a taxi in Tokyo? ›

When using a standard four-passenger taxi, fares typically start around 400-750 yen for the first 1-2 kilometers and increase by around 80-100 yen for every additional 200-400 meters traveled. The cost also increases when the taxi is not moving for a prolonged time.

How expensive is Shinjuku? ›

Average cost by ward
Tokyo WardsAverage cost per month by Japanese apartment size
20 more rows
Mar 8, 2021

What is the most expensive thing to buy in Japan? ›

Some of the most expensive items in Japan are taxi fares, entertainment such as movies, and essential living costs such as utilities and education. However, Japanese medical expenses are notably cheap, which is good considering that this worldwide medical system is a particularly important part of our lives.

Is Japan cheap for shopping? ›

Is shopping cheap in Japan? Shopping in Japan is neither cheap nor expensive. Generally speaking, Electronics, shoes and branded goods are more expensive in Japan (Compared to the USA). Anime goods, Japanese souvenirs tend to be cheap. Just like any other country, There are very cheap shops (Example: Daiso.

What is the most bought item in Japan? ›

Consumer Electronics

Electronics in Japan is one of the most demanded products in Japan. Almost every household has at least one electronic appliance.

Which city in Japan has beautiful girls? ›

The city in Japan that has the most beautiful girls is Akita.

What is the best month to go to Japan? ›

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery.

Is 1000 dollars enough in Japan? ›

Is 1000 dollars enough for a week in Japan? In short, I think you will be absolutely fine since your flight and hotels are paid for already. $1000 should be sufficient, but you must be strict with yourself.

Should I bring cash to Japan? ›

While credit cards are become more widely accepted in Japan, cash is still king in Japan. Don't assume that you can use a credit card in small stores, restaurants and accommodations, particularly “mom and pop” places. Always carry sufficient Japanese cash as a backup.

How much cash can you bring to Japan? ›

Currency. If you are carrying cash or other means of payment exceeding 1 million yen (*0.1 million JPY in a case that you are bound for North Korea), you are required to declare to Customs. Please ask a Customs officer at a seaport/ airport for a blank form.

How much money should I bring to Japan for 2 weeks? ›

The estimated total cost for 2 weeks in Japan is ¥790,000 ($5450) for 2 people. This works out to ¥28,300 ($195) per person per day, and it includes flights, accommodation, transportation, food, activities, souvenirs, and other small expenses.

How much money should I bring to Japan? ›

Sample daily budgets
Single TravelerTwo Travelers
Low Budget3,500 - 7,800 yen7,000 - 15,600 yen
Medium Budget8,800 - 18,500 yen13,600 - 28,000 yen
High Budgetover 18,500 yenover 28,000 yen
Dec 3, 2022

Is Tokyo more expensive than New York? ›

Cost of living in New York City (United States) is 86% more expensive than in Tokyo (Japan)

How much does it cost to take a plane to Japan? ›

Roundtrip prices range from $608 - $837, and one-ways to Tokyo start as low as $287. Be aware that choosing a non-stop flight can sometimes be more expensive while saving you time. And routes with connections may be available at a cheaper rate.

How much should I save for a 7-day trip to Japan? ›

The average price of a 7-day trip to Japan is $1,659 for a solo traveler, $2,690 for a couple, and $1,913 for a family of 4. Japan hotels range from $62 to $304 per night with an average of $105, while most vacation rentals will cost $140 to $520 per night for the entire home.

How much money do you need to stay in Japan for a month? ›

The average traveler in Japan spends about 115 € ($ 135) per day. If you are a backpacker or on a small budget, you usually spend between 45 and 50 € ($ 53 – 60) per day. We even managed to stay under 40 € ($ 47) per day on our trip. Later in this article, I will tell you step by step how we did it.

How long can a US citizen stay in Tokyo? ›

You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan. You cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.

Is it cheaper to live in US or Japan? ›

In the US, the average price per square foot to buy a residence in the city center is around $335, whereas in Japan a comparable figure is $760. This is an approximate 57% increase. However, on the whole, house prices are generally lower in Japan than the US, especially since the Covid pandemic.

Which American city is most like Japan? ›

Honolulu, HI

All this is made even better, thanks to the infusion of the native heritage and Japanese culture.

Is it easier to stay thin in Japan? ›

While Japanese people eat rice daily. It is an essential food for most of their meals. Plus, it is cooked without butter or salt, so Japanese people are able to keep their slim figures. The Japanese diet mostly avoids junk foods and high-calorie.

How much money should I save before moving to Japan? ›

How much does it cost to move to Japan? You will need to have approximately 500,000 yen available to you in accessible cash so you can cover costs to set up your apartment and sustain yourself until the first pay day. If you're a westerner, you can use a website like Skyscanner to calculate travel costs.

What are the cheapest months to travel to Japan? ›

High season is considered to be November and December. The cheapest month to fly to Japan is March.

What are the don'ts in Japan? ›

Street etiquette
  • Dont walk while eating.
  • Hang on to your rubbish.
  • Don't count your change.
  • Don't bombard the geishas and maiko for selfies for your gram.
  • Don't blow your nose in public.
  • Know your way around the Escalator.
  • Be quiet on public transport.
  • Take your shoes off indoors.
Nov 16, 2022

What is the drinking age in Japan? ›

In Japan, the legal adult age is 20. Japanese law prohibits individuals under the age of 20 to drink alcohol or smoke. Regardless of age, you must not force anyone to drink or smoke as it may cause serious health and social consequences.

What should I do on my first day in Japan? ›

Perfect First Day Ideas: What to do in Japan After That Long...
  • Morning Suggestion 1: Catch the Sunrise at Tokyo Bay!
  • Morning Suggestion 2: Tour of the Auction at Toyosu Market.
  • Morning Suggestion 3: Head Out to the Morning Market!
  • Night Suggestion 1: Enjoy Tokyo's Night Views and Landmarks.
Feb 12, 2020

What is the blue light district? ›

What Is The Blue Light District? The blue light district in Amsterdam is an area within the Red Light District with several transgender sex workers. Some transgender prostitutes use blue lights in their window brothels to indicate that they are different as the female sex workers.

What is the purple light district? ›

Purple lights in the Red Light District.

For those that plan on visiting the Red Light District, it's important to know that purple lights in the window signifies that the lady is a transvestite!

Can you take photos in red-light district? ›

Respect their privacy and safety.

It's okay to take pictures of buildings, streets or (empty) window brothels though.

Do you tip taxi in Japan? ›

Tipping is not customary in Japan. In fact, it can be considered rude and insulting in many situations. Most Japanese restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the front register, rather than leave money with the waiter or waitress. Tipping also isn't required for cab or bus rides and many hotel services.

Is it cheaper to rent or buy in Tokyo? ›

The most expensive city in which to buy is also the most expensive in which to rent: Tokyo. In the capital city, a 70 square meter apartment will cost about 46 million JPY (430,000 USD). The cheapest place to buy a home is in Niigata prefecture, which has an average home buying price of 6 million (56,000 USD).

Is Uber allowed in Japan? ›

In short, yes, you can use Uber in Tokyo, but mostly to hail a taxi. But, more often than not, stopping a random taxi on the street might be faster (and cheaper) than requesting a taxi via the ubiquitous app. Uber is relatively new to Japan, and as a result, its network isn't the largest.

How much is a gallon of milk in Japan? ›

Cost of Living in Japan
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)150.83¥
Water (12 oz small bottle)112.65¥
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)734.28¥
62 more rows

How much is an apartment in Japan in US dollars? ›

RankPrefectureApril 2021 Average Listing Price in USD @ 110 JPY = 1 USD
40 more rows
Jun 26, 2021

How much does a single person spend monthly in Japan? ›

Typical Monthly Cost of Living for a Single Person in Tokyo
ItemBudget AmountAverage Amount JPY
7 more rows
Jun 3, 2017

What are some fun facts about Shinjuku? ›

Shinjuku is the busiest train station in the world

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Shinjuku station is officially the busiest train station in the world, where every day 3.4 million passengers utilize six different train companies operating across 12 different lines.

How would you describe Shinjuku? ›

Shinjuku City is a multi-faceted town, with a bustling shopping area at the East Exit, rows of high-rise office buildings at the West Exit, a quiet residential area in Ochiai and a stone-paved street with traces of history in Kagurazaka.

Is Shinjuku the heart of Tokyo? ›

Since the end of the Second World War, Shinjuku has been a major secondary center of Tokyo (fukutoshin), rivaling to the original city center in Marunouchi and Ginza. It literally means "New Inn Ward".

What anime takes place in Shinjuku? ›

Demon City Shinjuku (Japanese: 魔界都市〈新宿〉, Hepburn: Makai Toshi: Shinjuku) is a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi that was adapted into an original video animation (OVA) in 1988, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The title has also been translated as Hell City Shinjuku and Monster City.

What is red light area in Japan? ›

Kabukichō is the biggest red-light district in Tokyo, where you can “buy” girls on an iPad, see Godzilla, or spend the night in a love hotel, so embrace the seediness and head on in…

What is Shinjuku most popular street? ›

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku

Tokyo is littered with little alleyways known as yokocho, filled with narrow eateries and drink stalls, but none are quite as iconic as Shinjuku's Omoide Yokocho.

Is Uber in Tokyo? ›

Tokyo: Get a ride. Travel. Explore. Planning a trip is easy with Uber.

What part of Tokyo is best to stay? ›

The best places to stay are Shinjuku, the Tokyo Station Area, Ginza/Hibiya, Shibuya or Roppongi. Other decent places to stay include Nihombashi, Shinagawa, Hamamatsucho and Shiodome. Try to stay near a Yamanote Line (Tokyo loop line) station. If you can't do that, be sure you're near a subway station.

Where is anime most popular in Japan? ›

TOKYO. Tokyo is without a doubt the main mecca for all things anime. Not only is it a major city which means that there are more stores available in general, but there are literally whole streets dedicated to anime!

What part of Japan has the most anime stuff? ›

Akihabara. Akihabara is the center of gaming, manga and anime culture in Japan. With its electronics shops, maid cafes and anime stores, it is a paradise for any self-proclaimed otaku.


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