20 Best Things to Do in Shinjuku

From Kabukicho to Shinjuku Gyoen, Best Things to Do in Shinjuku, Tokyo

The bustling street with neon lights in Shinjuku

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.

There are numbers of entertainments and attractions available in Shinjuku area where visitors can play, eat and shop till very late night.

In this article, I’m sharing the best things to do in Shinjuku, Tokyo, including the best photo spots, a nostalgic Izakaya alley and some latest trends!

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

1. Discover Tokyo’s Nightlife in Kabukicho

The iconic Kabukicho Gate at night

Kabukicho area is known as the biggest red light district in Tokyo where hundreds of restaurants, bars, night clubs and other red light establishments are located. It’s also popular as a night photography spot as the streets are lit up by colourful neon light all night long!

More info ▶ Kabukicho: Tokyo’s Red Light District, a Survival Guide

2. Unique Dining and Entertainment Experience at Samurai Restaurant

The infamous Robot Restaurant was a 10-billion-worth restaurant located in the heart of Shinjuku red light district, offering an eccentric entertaining show with robots and dancers with neon lights and music. The show was extremely popular among tourists in all generations, and it was one of the best places in Tokyo to explore only-in-Japan kind of experience.

More info ▶ Robot Restaurant Reopened in Shinjuku

Robot Restaurant is indefinitely closed at the moment, but there is a new show in town called “Samurai Restaurant” in the same location (GiraGiraGirls in Kubukicho, Shinjuku). The Samurai Restaurant features a kind of neo-Japanese cabaret packed with excitement and craziness just like the Robot Restaurant Show.

You can read a review of the new Samurai Restaurant here ▶ Samurai Restaurant to Open in Shinjuku

Book tickets with special discount ▶ Samurai Restaurant Show Reservation in Shinjuku Tokyo

3. Visit the New Landmark of the District, Tokyu Kabukicho Tower

Tokyu Kabukicho Tower

Tokyu Kabukicho Tower, a 225-meter high-rise complex with 48 floors above ground and 5 floors below, is a new icon in the Kabukicho area in Shinjuku, opening in April, 2023. It includes a live music hall Zepp Shinjuku (TOKYO), entertainment facilities such as movie theaters and theaters, and a hotel, aiming to become a new tourist center in the Kabukicho area. The space of Zepp Shinjuku is developed into a night entertainment facility ZEROTOKYO during nighttime hours.

The second-floor entertainment food hall Shinjuku Kabuki Hall- Kabuki Yokocho and other popular restaurants line the 2nd floor and other floors. You can have fun at Namco TOKYO on the third floor, at THE TOKYO MATRIX on the fourth floor, a wellness entertainment facility EXSTION on the fifth floor, and THEATER MILANO-Za on the sixth through eighth floors, all of which are state-of-the-art entertainment facilities.

More info ▶ Tokyu Kabukicho Tower

4. Visit Tokyo’s Most Quirky Drinking Alley, Golden Gai

Golden Gai Alley at night

Golden Gai is a tiny yet atmospheric nightlife alley near Kabukicho area. There are over 200 small bars and eateries crammed, and most of them have only seats for a few customers. Some of bars have unique  themes that attracts regulars and particular customers.

If you want to explore the deep drinking culture/underground culture in Tokyo, do not hesitate to hop by at some of tiny bars in Golden Gai!

More info ▶ Shinjuku Golden Gai: A Bohemian Haven in Tokyo

5. Stepping Back to Post-War Era at Omoide Yokocho

The retro and nostalgic, Omoide Yokocho alley in Shinjuku

Omoide Yokocho is a narrow and rustic alley packed with numbers of Japanese style small Izakaya pubs. The smokey alley with red lanterns is nowadays a popular spots for foreign tourists as they can experience the old-fashioned Japanese drinking culture with authentic pub food and drink like locals. It’s also one of the most popular photo spots in Tokyo today.

More info ▶ Omoide Yokocho: Tokyo’s Most Iconic Izakaya Alley

6. Do Izakaya Hopping and Drink Like a Local

Bar hopping at Shinjuku's Izakaya alley

Photo by Magical Trip

To enjoy the nightlife in Shinjuku, joining a bar hopping tour is the best idea. Tokyo Bar Hopping Night Food Tour in Shinjuku by Magical Trip offers the best bar hopping experience for international tourists. The local guide will take you to hidden local Izakaya and bars which may be hard to enter for visitors.

You can enjoy drinking with authentic Japanese bar foods and chatting with locals! Please check the link below for more details!

▶︎ Tokyo Bar Hopping Night Tour in Shinjuku

7. Enjoy the Free Panoramic Views of the City at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings

The west side of Shinjuku station is often called the “Skyscraper District” as numbers of modern high-rise buildings gather. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings is an iconic building within the area and it’s been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo for the past decade.

The twin building have observation decks offering the panoramic city view of the city and surroundings, and it’s FREE entrance! You can also see Mount Fuji when the visibility is good.

More info ▶ Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings

8. Admire the Beauty of Four Seasons at Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku gyoenShinjuku Gyoen is a vast park located in the heart of Shinjuku area. Although the surrounding area is one of the busiest and the most hectic areas in Tokyo, the park offers a massive green space with peaceful and serine atmosphere. With the rich nature, the park displays delightful scenery in each season, and it’s especially a popular place to visit in spring as one of the top cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo.

More info ▶ Shinjuku Gyoen: the Most Popular Park in Tokyo

9. Slurp up at Tokyo’s Most Competitive Ramen District

Ramen at Shinjuku Taketora

Shinjuku is home to hundreds of restaurants with a wide variety of dishes. Especially, Shinjuku is known as one of Tokyo’s most competitive Ramen districts and countless Ramen restaurants gather in this area. If you want to taste a great bowl of Ramen, try one of Ramen restaurants that have long queues in front of the shop!

More info ▶ 10 Best Ramen Restaurants in Shinjuku

10. Worship at Hanazono Shrine, the Shinto Shrine from Edo Period

Hanazono Shrine

Shinjuku is well-known for the cluster of high-rise buildings and the nightlife district consisting of a large number of restaurants and bars. At the center of the busy town, there is a sacred old Shinto shrine named Hanazono Shrine. It is said it was founded before Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Shogunate in 1603. In addition to the main hall, it has some other small shrines and shrine gates on the site. Hanazono Shrine holds various seasonal festivals throughout the year, including Tori no Ichi (festival of rooster).

More info ▶ Hanazono Shrine: A Large Shinto Shrine in Shinjuku

11. Shop till You Drop at Megastores of Shinjuku

Like the neighbouring districts Shibuya and Harajuku, Shinjuku is also a great spot to shop in Tokyo. It’s home to several large shopping complexes, department stores and popular brand’s outlets including Isetan, Odakyu, Keio, Takashimaya, Lumine, OIOI, Yodobashi Camera, BIC Camera and UNIQLO. A wide variety of products can be found within a walking distance from the station.

More info ▶ Shinjuku Shopping Guide

Sneakers are popular items to shop in Tokyo among foreigners, and Shinjuku is one of the best spots to hunt for the most trendy and cool kicks. From brand stores to small boutiques, a larger number of sneaker stores gather in Shinjuku area, and sometimes you can find very rare ones!

More info ▶ Coolest Sneaker Shops in Shinjuku

12. Dive into the World of “Lost in Translation” at Park Hyatt Tokyo

The restaurant in Park Hyatt Tokyo
© 2015 Hyatt Corporation

Park Hyatt Tokyo is a hotel in Shinjuku known as the filming location of the famous movie: Lost in Translation. Since the movie has a lot of fans across the world, the hotel and its bar lounge also become popular landmarks in town.

More info ▶ New York Grill and Bar: PARK HYATT TOKYO in Shinjuku

13. Be Greeted by 3D Cat

Shibuya Crossing has been famous as a place where tourists gathered and took photos over the past years, and it’s still a very popular spot, but the trend has slightly changed since this new landmark is now a stronger magnet to tourists.

The 3D cat billboard in Shinjuku became a new instagram host spot in Tokyo since it first appeared in 2021. The adorable gigantic cat with super realistic movement greets everyone in front of the east exit of Shinjuku Station.

Map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/iSRiphLYABtd8hNcA

14. Enjoy Late Night Shopping at Don Quijote

The popular discount store franchise in Japan, Don Quijote has three outlet in Shinjuku area and one of the stores is located in the entrance of Kabukicho in East Exit of Shinjuku Station. The store sells pretty much everything you need, and many of products are sold at discounted price. Just like the location, the store also never sleeps as it stays open for 24 hours and visitors can enjoy late night shopping after enjoying a nightlife in Shinjuku.

Map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/QsgSBrVB2jGGCNTz8

15. Yayoi Kusama Museum

Yayoi Kusama

The queen of pop art, Yayoi Kusama’s very own museum has opened in Shinjuku, Tokyo a couple of years ago. The 5-story museum displays the classic to rare artworks of Yayoi Kusama at the gallery on each floor, and also consists of a library and museum shop.

Tickets are not available at the door, so all tickets must be purchased in advance through the museum website.

More info ▶ Yayoi Kusama Museum in Shinjuku

16. Extend Your Trip to/from Shinjuku Bus Terminal BUSTA

Shinjuku Bus Terminal Busta

Shinjuku Bus Terminal “BUSTA” is a newly renovated bus terminal next JR Shinjuku station. When it comes to travelling a long distance, bus is one of the best option as it’s inexpensive and there are many routes available. BUSTA is a hub to numbers of long distance buses connecting Tokyo and hundreds of destinations all over Japan. The terminal is connected to a department store “NEWoMan”.

More info ▶ BUSTA : Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal

17. Unique Stay at Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku

Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku
© Book And Bed Tokyo 2014-2022.

Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku, which opened in the Kabukicho area in 2018, is one of the most popular accommodations among both foreign tourists and Tokyoites in Shinjuku. The modern unique hostel with the concept of “a bookstore where you can stay”, and thousands of books classified into various genres line bookshelves around the hostel. You can enjoy just reading books, taking a nap and sipping a cup of coffee with day-use services.

▶ Check the best rate for Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku!

18. Catch a Flick at Shinjuku’s Movie Theaters

Shinjuku Piccadilly

Shinjuku is looked on as the center of various entertainments in Tokyo and is one of the most popular towns to go to see films. Toho Cinemas Shinjuku is a large movie theater that has 12 screens with over 2,300 seats. Shinjuku Piccadilly is also a famous theater located near Shinjuku Station, which offers 10 screens with over 2,200 seats. You can watch the latest Japanese anime films in Japan as well as international films in English.

19. Enjoy Shopping and Winter Lights at Shinjuku Southern Terrace

Shinjuku Southern Terrace, a promenade connected to Shinjuku Station, is a popular spot to dine and shop. There are several selected fancy stores that provide cool interior items and popular international cafes and restaurants on Shinjuku Southern Terrace. In winter, the promenade is lit up by gorgeous illuminations.

▶ Shinjuku Southern Terrace Winter Illumination

20. Watch Performing Art at New National Theatre, Tokyo

New National Theatre, Tokyo

As a part of Tokyo Opera City, New National Theatre, Tokyo stands next to Tokyo Opera City Tower in the west of Shinjuku. It has played an important role to show performing arts such as opera, ballet, contemporary dance and drama since it was built in 1997. It consists of three main facilities: Opera Palace Tokyo, Playhouse and The Pit.

+Shin Okubo: Tokyo’s Largest Korean Town

Quick train ride or 15 mins walk from Shinjuku Station, Shin Okubo is the neighbour of Shinjuku which is trending among young generation thank to the current K-Pop boom. Shin Okubo is the largest Korean town in Tokyo where hundreds of Korean restaurants and shops gather.

More info ▶ Shin Okubo: Korean Town in Tokyo

+Takadanobaba: Students’ Hub in Tokyo

Takadanobaba Station

Takadanobaba is a small neighbourhood within Shinjuku district situated around 1.3 km north of Shin Okubo area. It’s popular among students, and there are numbers of inexpensive local eateries as several educational institutions gather in this area, including Waseda University, one of top universities in the country. Just like Shinjuku, Takadanobaba is also home to numbers of great Ramen restaurants.

More info ▶ Best Ramen Restaurants in Takadanobaba

Samurai Museum <<Temporarily Closed>>

Samurai Museum in Shinjuku

Samurai Museum is a historical museum dedicated to Samurai culture. The museum is not only where you can learn about Samurai history, but also to experience actually to be Samurai by learning swordsmanship or wearing costumes.

NOTE: Samurai Museum remains closed due to covid-19.

More info ▶ Guide of Samurai Museum

If you are wondering what to do in Tokyo, check this article below!
▶︎Things to Do in Tokyo

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Written by

"The world is my oyster" A globetrotter 🌎 and hammock lover 🌞 who loves taking adventures to fuel wanderlust. Born and raised in Japan, I have lived and explored countries around the world. As a resident of Japan and based on my travel experience, I'd love to share my knowledge and tips for travelling Japan with my readers. I hope my story will help you plan your trip and have a great time in Japan 🌈