Shinjuku could be neatly split into two areas. The West side: Skyscrapers, business district, wide boulevards, very clean, lots of concrete. And the East side, boulevards with high end fashion shops, byroads with charming paved streets, cramped backstreets and lastly the debauchery of Kabukicho.
Since 1960 the Shinjuku metropolis has grown exponentially, with every few years more skyscrapers being erected. One can only wonder where it will be in 2060, with land so expensive and precious the only answer is to build towards the sky.
Much has been said about Kabukicho, Tokyo's infamous Red Light; a place where men go to satisfy their sordid desires at the various houses of ill repute. Regardless of the seedy establishments, Kabukicho still is an interesting experience and worth exploring and offers much in the way of quality local eating and entertainment, such as movie theaters, pachinko etc, etc, etc.
Japanese Rock Stars
One of its hallmarks are the preponderance Japanese rock stars seen loitering the streets. And what's more, they all have the same big, wild hair styles, wear the same black glittering clothes and same cowboy boots. What brings all these handsome young devils to Kabukicho? Girls? Impossible, they're Rock Stars; they would have no need for these seedy shops. Maybe they're not rock stars at all; perhaps they are only posing as such in order to attract young and impressionable women for a darker purpose.
Well unfortunately that is exactly the case. These men (or 'hosts' as they are referred to) have it as their sole function to look cool and interesting, and to then entice attractive young women to participate at the nearby clubs. The participation varies anywhere from just having a drink and conversation with a man to performing sexual acts. Every day thousands of men come to Kabukicho for either of these services. Inevitably, with this kind of system women will be taken advantage of and abused. And with little police control over this area it is a growing problem for the city and its residents.
We at ExploringTokyo.com definitely recommend taking a look around Kabukicho but strongly advise for your safety and for others that you not involve yourself with said activities. But by all means play some Pachinko, go to the movies, and have a bowl of Ramen.
Tokyo's most spectacular garden is the Shinjuku Gyoen. Boasting two traditional Japanese Gardens, a French rose garden, an English landscaped field, a river which spans the entire breadth of the park, one lake, two ponds, a green house, various sub gardens and features, two tea houses, a restaurant, several resting areas and more, its clear to see that the Shinjuku Gyoen has a lot to offer. Read More...
Like Starbucks there is a sheik OIOI shopping mall on every corner of East Shinjuku. Specializing in women's fashions, they do however offer a diversity of products throughout their five Shinjuku branches:
- OIOI Curren
- OIOI Men (Designer men's wear)
- OIOI Honkan (women's fashions and accessories with an English Garden on the roof)
- OIOI Annex (Men's fashions and accessories, with a movie theater and restaurants)
- OIOI One
At the edge of Shinjuku, bordering on Shibuya you will find this enormous shopping mall with sixteen floors of high-end goods (half of which are for clothing).
Aside from the shopping Takashiima has tremendous dining opportunities:
- Fukinuki (Trad Japanese)
- Furkurokyujyu (Trad Japanese)
- Crillion (Euro Gourmet)
- Sandayahonten (New Japanese)
- Imahan (New Chinesse)
- Genkai (Trad Japanese)
- Misen (New Japanese)
- Sushi Gen (Sushi)
- Tenkuni (Tempura)
- Tentsusaikan (Modern)
- Nagasaka Sarashina (Soba)
- Katsukura (Tempura)
- Olive House Dining (Euro Gourmet)
- Tsunahachi (Tempura)
- Tsubame Grill (Grill)
- Breizh Cafe Creperie (Euro Crepes)
- Canovietta (Italian)
- Reikasen (Chinese)
- Ocean Grill Tokyo (Sea food)
- Sitaara Grove (Indian)
- Ninnikuya Goemaon (Asian-European fusion)
- Mugiman (Udon)
- Komatusan (Soba)
- Tamazushi (Sushi)
- Nha Viet Nam (Vietnamese)
- Inabawako (Tempura)
- Rose-tei (New Japanese)
- Suranje (Korean)
- Din Fai Fung (Chinese)
- Blue Lotus (New Japanese)
- Stackers (American)
- West Park Cafe (American)
- Seicento (Italian)
- Donatello's (Italian Dessert)
- A Caramell (Euro Dessert)
Central Shinjuku's only shrine, the Hanazono provides a quite serene place in the heart of the city (separated if only by trees from the hustle and bustle).
Entering the grounds you will notice that it is are particularly dark, (due to the dense overhead of trees) and the liberal use of plastic and spray painted metal in the Torii's and other elements throughout the shrine.
Although it’s a welcomed slice of traditional Japan, the shrine unfortunately comes off feeling somewhat fake and cold.
With the Japanese's enthusiasm of adding the flavor of green tea to anything edible, it is only expected that they have their Green Tea Floats or 'Green Tea Frappuccinos', or a 'Macha Latte'.
Judging by its appearance it looks terribly delicious, the bright green thick froth and the dollop of mildly sweet whip cream, all in a cold glass with ice cubes. Yes, it appears tantalizing indeed.
Conveniently the best place to try a Macha Latte is in Shinjuku's Caffe Volce. For a reasonable 260 yen, you can try the Green Tea Frappuccino and see for yourself.
This explorer will go on record saying that if it weren't for the overwhelming amount of sugar added, it would've tasted like freshly mowed grass.
Being metropolitan, pastry shops are readily available. One worth inspecting is next to the front entrance of the OIOI Honkan Shopping mall.
Central Business District / Downtown Shinjuku
Similar to Marunochi but instead of huge shopping complexes its towering skyscrapers, West Shinjuku's clean and wide boulevards are perfect for taking a stroll.
There is no better way to behold the skyline and the visuals of West Shinjuku than taking the 30 minute tour on the West side's Skywalk. From here you get an up close view of the Tokyo’s magnificent architecture. Free from the mobs of people and the visual obstacles of the ground level, the skywalk puts you in a front row seat, where you can discover the many vantages points of the cityscapes.
Crammed together in one location are the 16 skyscrapers of West Shinjuku. Most notable of these is the recently constructed and boldly designed Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower. Its framework (looking like a spider's web) is instantly recognizable, and unforgettable. Interestingly this building houses three colleges. Tokyo Mode Gakuen (fashion vocational school), HAL Tokyo (special technology and design college), and Shuto Iko (medical college) The skywalk won't take you completely through all the skyscrapers, so it is recommended that you hop off at one point and take the rest of the journey on foot.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (Tocho)
- Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower
- Hilton Tokyo
- Island Tower
- Mitsui Building
- Nomura Building
- Yasudo Kasai Kaijo Building
- Shinjuku Center Building
- Sumitomo Building
- Keio Plaza Hotel
- KDD Building
- Monolith Building
- Washington Hotel
- NS Building
- Century Hyatt Hotel
- Dai-Ichi Seimei Building
Although not nearly as spectacular as the Shinjuku National Gyoen, the Shinjuku Chuo Central Park is satisfactory and has some unique features. Located in West Shinjuku It is worth exploring if you happen to be in the area. Or if you need a place to sleep. Read More...
If the East side has a monopoly of fashions, fashions, fashions with its fleet of five OIOI department stores, then the West has a monopoly on cameras, cameras cameras. With practically a small city block devoted to electronics giant Yodobashi Camera, and a huge BIC Camera, the West side is on the verge of becoming the next Akihabara (well not really, but it gives that impression). Although the companies' titles would have you believing that they only sold cameras, they are in fact electronics giants, equivalent to the U.S.'s Best Buy or Circuit City.
Yamanote Line - Shinjuku Station