Shinjuku, being one of the most popular downtown areas in Tokyo (and home to the busiest train station in Japan), is absolutely jam-packed with interesting things for your bucket list.
Relax in Shinjuku Gyoen
The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a must-see on your trip to Shinjuku because it shows you the more calm and serene side to life.
Feel a sense of tranquility while you gaze out over calm pond waters lined with manicured shrubs and a variety of flowers.
Enjoy the pavilions made for the Imperial family and the greenhouse with tropical flowers. Try to get there when the cherry trees are in bloom. Simply magnificent.
And it can be real escape when the hustle and bustle of Tokyo wear you out.
Is Shinjuku Gyoen free?
Gyoen is not free, but it is pretty cheap.
Gyoen admission fees:
- 500 yen for 15 years old or over
- 250 yen for 6-14 year olds
- Free for under 5 year olds
- Free entry on the following days:
- Showa Day (Showa no Hi)
- Greenery Day (Midori no Hi)
- Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) – free for elementary and junior high school-age children only
- World Environment Day (Kankyo no Hi)
Get Lost in Golden Gai
This place is so cool. It’s this complex of teeny-tiny alleys stuffed with interesting izakaya.
It’s like you have stepped back in time and are getting a look at old school Japanese culture.
It’s scruffy, unpolished and very nostalgic, but it has some of the most splendid little bars and places to eat that you will ever see.
You don’t even have to drink or go at night to enjoy it, although nighttime does have a unique ambiance about it.
It’s also a fantastic area to take photos to show off to friends and family back home.
Take in the View at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The Tokyo Metropolitan building is an extraordinary skyscraper that is a testament to Japan’s ingenuity that has withstood powerful earthquakes and remains just as magnificent as the day it was built.
The top has an observation deck where you can get an unobstructed view of all of Tokyo and shop for souvenirs.
I don’t want to underplay this. It has an incredible view and it costs nothing.
So grab your fancy new iPhone 11 Pro Max and snag some of the most remarkable photos you’ll snap during your time in Tokyo.
A Breath of Fresh Air at Central Park
Just like Central Park in New York City, Shinjuku Central Park is located in the center of the Metropolis of Shinjuku. It is a place to go where you can enjoy open space, fresh air, and a little quiet time for yourself.
Take pictures by the waterfall, or have a picnic under a cherry tree.
Walk Down Memory Lane at Omoide Yokocho
Imagine what life would have been like shortly after the war. Walking down this alley that is lit up with lamps, smoke billowing up towards the night sky and men in work suits rushing to grab a quick bite and beer before heading home.
It is a place that almost seems stuck in time and an absolute must-see.
Tremble at the Sight of Godzilla
Ok, you can’t come to Tokyo without seeing Godzilla! Don’t worry, he’s not going to crush you beneath his giant feet. This statue is of only his head peering out over billboards.
However, every hour on the hour, his eyes light up, and he blows smoke. An absolute must for your photos and videos of your time in Japan.
Revel at the Historical Samurai Museum
The Samurai believed in Honor above all else, and this translates through to their armor and sword.
In this small museum, you can get an idea of what it was like to be a Samurai.
There are English speaking guides who are full of Samurai knowledge to bestow upon you as you walk through the guided tour. Try on the armor, hold a sword, and watch a little ‘battle’ between two Samurai.
Let Loose in Kabukicho
Yes… this is the red-light district of Tokyo — the place to go for all your adult fun – from G to X rated.
But it’s fun. Don’t cross it off your list to fast.
There are plenty of techno-playing night clubs, gay clubs, lesbian clubs, lots of small bars to hop, love hotels, cabaret’s, and even legal soaplands.
But that is just what Kabukicho is known for. You don’t have to be naughty to enjoy your time here.
Kabukicho is also loaded with delicious izakaya to enjoy, with foods that pair perfectly with sake, shochu, and beer.
Take heed though. Touts and other shady characters are certainly looking for ways to relieve you of your hard-earned cash.
Speaking of cash… bring some because the shops in this area aren’t likely to accept credit cards.
Be Mesmerized by the Robot Restaurant
This is a “restaurant” so you’d think it would be filed under “Shinjuku Eats” right? Well, it’s more entertainment than a restaurant.
Everybody mentions the Robot Restaurant in practically every guide on the internet. It’s for a reason.
Be prepared for the most insane, out of this world experience with this high energy, high voltage dinner show.
Watch warrior princess’s battle it out on 10ft tall, neon covered, transformer robots while laser lights shoot through the room and pop music shrouds your ears.
It will leave you feeling as if you were transported to another galaxy and it is sure to be the most fun you will have at dinner.
Shop High-Class Goods at Isetan
Located on the east side, this is considered to be the best place to shop for high-end, brand name items. You will notice right away that it is in a class all its own just with the opulent architecture.
That opulence is carried throughout the whole mall.
Find Trendy Fashion in Lumine EST
Also located on the east side, this shopping experience focuses on the younger generation with their street fashion and style.
There are 3 floors, and each one is like it’s own shopping plaza with food on each floor.
More High-Class Shopping in Takashimaya Times Square
There are 15 floors to this mall! If you can’t find what you are looking for here, chances are they don’t make it! It is a modern mall, so shopping is made easy.
The top 3 floors are all restaurants with a wide selection that is sure to please any type of taste bud.
Shop the for the Modern Woman at NEWoMan
This store was built specifically for the female buyer. There are 7 floors of high-end brand stores that are geared towards a more mature shopper, but the best part of this mall is the rooftop garden and mezzanine.
It is definitely worth checking out.
Buy Whatever You Want at Don Quijote
Known for being a chain store throughout Japan, this Don Quijote location is considered the most “intense.” It is known for its low prices and a wide variety of items.
This store sells just about anything from groceries to sex toys. It is open 24 hours and something you have to experience at least once.
Get Your Electronics Fix at Bic Camera (Bicqlo)
This is your one-stop electronic store. They have everything from camera equipment, household electronics, computers, kitchen appliances, toys and so much more.
There are 3 different stores to choose from near Shinjuku Station, but one of the biggest is one is inside the Uniqlo outlet. Since it is located in the Uniqlo outlet, it is called – Bicqlo.
Everyday Clothing at Great Prices in Uniqlo
This is where fashion meets electronics. Uniqlo sells high-end men’s fashion, but it is merged with the latest in technology from Bic Camera (thus “Bicalo.”)
Inside you will find mannequins not only showing the latest trends in menswear, but that same mannequin will be holding the most recent in camera equipment or working an appliance.
These are some of my top picks for things to do in Shinjuku. There will be more added over time for sure.