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Shinjuku: 10 Exciting Things to Do From Morning to Night

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Tokyo's Shinjuku offers an incredible array of things to do and enjoy, from the Kabukicho entertainment district and the free observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to shopping and nightlife. We introduce an itinerary for a fun day and evening in Shinjuku.

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Tokyo's Shinjuku: Brimming with Fun Things to Do

Tokyo's Shinjuku district is one of the most popular choices for amusement and entertainment in Tokyo. Shinjuku Station is considered the busiest in the world, and the surrounding area hosts some of the most famous events in Tokyo.

Here is a model travel itinerary of 10 things to do in Shinjuku from morning to late in the evening. It covers all the most entertaining parts of this vibrant neighborhood.

10 Things to Do in Shinjuku

1. Sarabeth's Breakfast - Start Your Morning Right
2. See the Giant 3D Cat and Godzilla
3. Hanazono Shrine: Take in a Spiritual Spot
4. Kizuna Sushi: Choose From 100 Kinds of Sushi for Lunch
5. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum: Experience Fashion Through the Ages
6. Bittersweets Buffet: Enjoy All-You-Can-Eat Seasonal Sweets
7. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Stunning Views of Tokyo
8. Kabukicho: Experience Shinjuku's Exciting Nightlife
9. Shinjuku Golden Gai: Visit a Bar in One of Tokyo’s Most Iconic Areas!
10. Omoide Yokocho: Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

1. Sarabeth's Breakfast - Start Your Morning Right

From Morning To Night: 7 Things You Must Do In Shinjuku

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Sarabeth's in Shinjuku is one of the best places to go. There you'll find fluffy pancakes, and eggs Benedict that taste heavenly. Best of all, Sarabeth's opens at 9:00, so you can sleep in a bit before heading out for the day.

2. See the Giant 3D Cat and Godzilla

Next up, we suggest taking a walk in the area east of Shinjuku Station to feel the pulse of the city. Right next to the station's East Exit, you'll find the Giant 3D Cat billboard that captured the hearts of so many locals and visitors since July 2021.

The Giant Cat (also known as the Calico Cat) can be seen from 7:00 AM until 1:00 AM. Its activity and movements change regularly to entertain the viewers.

You can stop for a break with coffee and dessert at the Giant 3D Cat Cafe that occupies the first and second floors of the Cross Shinjuku building. The cafe also sells goods inspired by the popular 3D Cat.

The street in front of Cross Shinjuku takes you to the Kabukicho district. At the end of this street awaits none other than Godzilla!

Godzilla

Photo by Pixta

The Godzilla head is part of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku building, which is also home to TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku, one of the largest film theaters in Tokyo. Whether you are a Godzilla fan or not, this landmark is a must-see!

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku, Kabukicho 1-19-1
Official Website: https://gracery.com/shinjuku/godzilla-en/

3. Hanazono Shrine: Take in a Spiritual Spot

Shinjuku: 10 Exciting Things to Do From Morning to Night

Photo by Pixta
Hanazono Shrine is a spot well known for its connections to the entertainment industry. In fact, the Geino Asama Shrine within its precincts is where the god of performing arts is enshrined. During the New Year's celebrations, this shrine is often visited by Japanese celebrities from stage and screen.

If you're lucky, you may visit when the Red Tent of the theater troupe Kara-gumi is up and be able to see a Japanese theater performance or one of the many markets that take place within the grounds too.

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4. Kizuna Sushi: Choose From 100 Kinds of Sushi for Lunch

Kizuna Sushi. From Morning To Night: 7 Things You Must Do In Shinjuku

Sushi is a must-try food for many coming to Japan, but finding the right restaurant can be daunting, as there are so many to choose from. Kizuna Sushi near Shinjuku Station, is popular with locals for the quality and reasonable prices of its sushi, and for its outstanding service.

You can choose from a regular or an all-you-can-eat menu that features almost all the types of sushi available on the regular menu, plus a la carte menu dishes other than sushi, which makes this a great place to try out other Japanese foods as well.

Kizuna Sushi Shinjuku Kabukicho Store
Business Hours: 11:00 - 22:00
Location: Map

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5. Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum: Experience Fashion Through the Ages

Rediscover Culture Through Fashion at Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

The 2021 “European Mode” exhibition. Picture courtesy of Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

Fashion enthusiasts should definitely make a stop at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum, a unique museum dedicated to the history of fashion.

Rediscover Culture Through Fashion at Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

The 2019 “Ikat Textiles from the World” exhibition. Picture courtesy of Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

The museum is affiliated with Bunka Gakuen, a renowned educational institution that has been massively influential in the development of Japanese fashion.

It hosts several exhibitions each year and displays costumes and other fashion-related items from all over the world. Collections range from the time of Marie Antoinette to modern fashion and, of course, Japanese fashion.

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6. Bittersweets Buffet: Enjoy All-You-Can-Eat Seasonal Sweets

Bitter Sweets Buffet. From Morning To Night: 7 Things You Must Do In Shinjuku

Bittersweets Buffet Lumine EST Shinjuku store is located inside the LUMINE fashion mall connected to Shinjuku Station. The inside of the shop is decorated with dark-colored furniture, dimly lit, and arranged with mirrors and glass boundaries, giving the restaurant a luxurious ambiance that feels incredibly indulgent.

This buffet doesn't only specialize in sweets however, they also have a great range of savory meals as well. But be warned, there is a time limit as to how long you can stay and enjoy the all-you-can-eat course, so you might need to choose your treats quickly to make the most out of it.

Bittersweets Buffet Lumine EST Shinjuku
Business Hours: 11:00 - 22:00
Location: Map

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7. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Stunning Views of Tokyo’s Skyline

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While in Shinjuku be sure to get an incredible view of Tokyo’s iconic skyline from the observation deck at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building!

Shinjuku: 10 Exciting Things to Do From Morning to Night

Photo by Pixta

Designed by famed architect Kenzo Tange, the observation deck not only offers one of Tokyo’s best views, but it is entirely free to enter! The night view of the city is particularly stunning, and it’s the perfect way to start your evening in Shinjuku - one of the best places to get a taste of Tokyo’s exciting nightlife!

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8. Kabukicho: Experience Shinjuku's Exciting Nightlife

Shinjuku: 10 Exciting Things to Do From Morning to Night

Photo by Pixta

Kabukicho, the most popular entertainment area in Asia, is just a seven-minute walk from Shinjuku Station, and where you'll find bars, restaurants, izakayas, clubs, karaoke spots, and scores of other places where you can have fun all night long.

Shinjuku Kabuki Hall Tokyu Kabukicho Tower

Among Kabukicho’s best nightlife spots is the recently opened Tokyu Kabukicho Tower. Filled with neon signs and bursting at the seams with facilities, this massive entertainment complex has it all - shopping, restaurants, bars, gaming arcades, spa facilities, a cinema, and more! It’s a fantastic stop for excitement, gourmet food, and incredible photos!

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9. Shinjuku Golden Gai: Visit a Bar in One of Tokyo’s Most Iconic Areas!

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Tucked away amid Shinjuku’s bright lights and skyscrapers is perhaps one of Tokyo’s most iconic drinking spots. Reminiscent of Japan’s Showa Period (1926 - 1989), the retro alleyways of Golden Gai offer a nightlife experience not to be missed.

Golden Gai’s streets are lined with tiny, quaint bars - many housing only five or so seats! Each one of these unique bars has its own theme and character, which cannot be experienced anywhere else.

Access to Golden Gai: Map

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10. Omoide Yokocho: Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Another Retro Nightlife Spot

10 Exciting Things To Do In Shinjuku From Morning To Night

Photo by Pixta

Golden Gai isn’t the only famous retro night spot in Shinjuku! Located right by the West Exit of bustling Shinjuku Station is Omoide Yokocho (or Memory Lane), another Showa-era (1926-1989) area filled with tiny, nostalgic bars and restaurants.

Perhaps one of Shinjuku’s most beloved photo spots, the lantern-lit lane is not only great for pictures or grabbing a drink or two, but it’s also home to many excellent and reasonably priced little restaurants. Be sure to enjoy some yakitori (chicken skewers) or motsuyaki (organ skewers) while you’re there!

Omode Yokocho
Website: https://en.shinjuku-omoide.com/
Access: Map

FAQ

What is Shinjuku best known for?

Shinjuku is best known for being a bustling and vibrant district in Tokyo with a diverse array of attractions, entertainment, and commercial activities. The Kabukicho entertainment district, the lively Golden Gai area known for its small bars and nightlife, the free admission observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which offers panoramic views of the city, and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden are just some of the major attractions in Shinjuku. The striking cityscape with many skyscrapers, the multitude of dining and culinary experiences, and that Shijuku Station is a major transportation hub all contribute to making Shinjuku a popular sightseeing destination in Tokyo.

Is Shinjuku safe?

Shinjuku is generally considered a safe area to visit in Tokyo. It is a major commercial, entertainment, and transportation hub, and it is frequented by large numbers of locals and visitors daily. The area is well-policed, and there are numerous security measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors. As with any urban area, it's important to remain vigilant and take normal precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe.

Is Shinjuku worth going to?

Shinjuku is definitely worth visiting as it offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences that cater to a wide variety of interests. Whether you're interested in shopping, dining, nightlife, entertainment, or simply experiencing the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of a major urban district, Shinjuku has something for everyone. From iconic landmarks like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden to the bustling commercial and entertainment areas, the district offers a dynamic blend of modern urban culture and traditional Japanese experiences.

Why is Shinjuku Station so busy?

Shinjuku Station is a major interchange point for a complex network of train and subway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line, Chuo Line, Sobu Line, Saikyo Line, as well as several Tokyo Metro lines. This extensive connectivity makes it a critical junction for commuters traveling to and from various areas within Tokyo and its surrounding regions. Moreover, Shinjuku Station is surrounded by commercial and entertainment districts, making it a central destination for those looking to shop, dine, or enjoy nightlife activities, further contributing to the station's busy atmosphere. In other words, the combination of its crucial role as a transit hub, extensive transportation options, and its proximity to commercial and entertainment activities results in Shinjuku Station being a very busy area.

When should I avoid Shinjuku Station?

Shinjuku Station can be particularly busy during peak commuter hours, typically in the early morning (7:00 - 9:30) and late afternoon (17:00 - 19:30) on weekdays. To avoid the largest crowds and long waits during these times, you may want to plan your travel outside of these periods. Additionally, major public holidays and festival days can also see an increase in the number of tourists and local visitors, potentially leading to increased congestion in and around the station.

Dawn to Dusk and Beyond in Shinjuku

Shinjuku is one of Tokyo's most popular areas and a place that you can easily spend 24 hours in if you're so inclined. It's even a great place to be if you've missed your last train!

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Main image from Pixta

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This is the official account of MATCHA's English editorial team. We are bringing you the latest travel information on Japan.

Our beautiful cover photo features the fall foliage at Lake Kinrin in Yufuin (photo by Pixta). We hope you'll have a wonderful time exploring Japan.

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