As one of the 23 city wards of Tokyo, Shinjuku is one of those places you should never miss if you are coming to visit Tokyo. Although it includes West-Shinjuku, usually it refers to the area around Shinjuku Station. However, in order to not miss any fun places in Shinjuku-ku (Shinjuku Ward), I am going to introduce four representative districts of it, they are: spots around Shinjuku station, spots around Takadanobaba station, spots around Shinokubo station, and Kabuki-cho. Here we go!
1. Spots around Shinjuku Station
First and foremost, let’s have a look at the most central part of Shinjuku-ku: spots around Shinjuku Station. As a major railway station in Shinjuku and Shibuya wards in Tokyo, it is one of the busiest stations in Tokyo. With 5 lines stopping here and various exits, it is definitely necessary to do some research before your exploration. For your convenience, here I attached the URL of Tokyo Railway Map and Shinjuku Station’s Map in English, please make sure to have a look, print out or remember to pick up a free map flyer once you’re in the station. Although I strongly recommend you to print one before you go in order to check which exit to take to get to your target places.
Tokyo Railway Map:
Shinjuku Station Map:
Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)
Completed in 1906 (Meiji 39) as an imperial garden on the site, this garden once belonged to Lord Naito, a “daimyo” (feudal lord) of the Edo era. After WWⅡ, it was re-designed as a national garden and opened to the public. With 58.3 ha in size and a circumference of 3.5 km, it consists of three gardens, a Japanese Traditional Garden, a French Formal Garden and an English Landscape Garden.
Location: 11 Naitoumachi Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
JR・KEIO・ODAKYU Lines Shinjuku sta. “south exit” 10min. walk
SEIBU SHINJUKU Line Seibu shinjuku sta. 15min. walk
MARUNOUCHI Line (Subway) Shinjuku gyoen mae sta. “Exit1” 5min. walk
TOEI SHINJUKU Line (Subway) Shinjuku 3 chome sta. “C１／C５exit” 5min. walk
(JR 京王／小田急線 新宿駅 南口；西武新宿線 西武新宿駅；地下鉄丸ノ内線 新宿御苑前駅 出口１；地下鉄都営新宿線 新宿三丁目駅 出口C１／C５)
Opening hours: 9:00~16:00 (Gates closed at 16:30), closed on Mondays (if Monday is a public holiday, closed on Tuesday), and December 29 to January 3. There are no closure days from late March to late April (Cherry blossoms) and in the first half of November (Chrysanthemums).
Price: adults/elementary and junior high school students/infants ￥200/50/free, Group discount applies to a party of 30 persons or more. No reservations are necessary. (Adults \150, Elementary and junior high school students \25)
Other information: charged lockers are provided in front of the entrance on the right side.
Mid 4 ~ 5: ハンカチの木(Davidia involucrate 珙桐) ツツジ(Azalea 杜鹃花) コデマリ（Spiraea cantoniensis 麻叶绣线菊）フジ（Wisteria floribunda 多花紫藤）百合の樹（Liriodendron tulipifera 鹅掌楸）朴の木（Magnolia obovata 和厚朴）シャガ（Iris
2. Spots at West Shinjuku, around Takadanobaba Station
Waseda University（Main Campus）
Founded in 1882, it is one of the most famous private universities in Japan and also has a good reputation in China. It’s main campus Waseda Campus is around Waseda Station, about a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride (￥170 for adult, riding from the bus stop right in front of Takadanobaba Station) from Takadanobaba Station. Website: www.waseda.jp
1-6-1 Nishi-waseda, Shinjuku-ku 169-8050 新宿区西早稲田1-6-1
YAMANOTE Line: Takadanobaba sta. 20 mins’ walking Other choices: http://www.waseda.jp/jp/campus/waseda.html
This is a traditional Japanese university festival. Every university holds one once or twice a year. For Sodai-sai, which means festival for Waseda Univeristy, it is usually held in October or November. This year’s festival will be held on November 2nd and 3rd. If you come during this time, come to the Waseda Campus and Toyama Campus of Waseda University to experience how Japanese students celebrate this school festival. The students make traditional Japanese food, you can enjoy interesting performances and also experience the Japanese tea ceremony in the Okuma Garden located at the Waseda Campus. You will also find a statue of Confucius, which was donated by Government of Shandong Province in China, and stone statues from Korea in the garden.
Fried noodle stand and students with costumes on in Sodai-sai 2012
Tea ceremony in Okuma Garden
If you happen to come to Tokyo in March (March 25,26) or September (September 15), you will have the chance to witness the end of the year at Waseda University. On that day, girls who graduate have traditional Japanese Kimono which they call “Hakama” on, and there are always a group of students circling together and singing the school song as it shows in the following picture.
Hotel Chinzanso (ホテル椿山荘)
What is most amazing here is that around the Maple trees there are lights with a variety of colors that light up at night. As the lights dim and get brighter, it will make you feel as if you’re in a wonderland. If you happen to come during late May or late July, drop by Chinzanso to view the “Firefly Dance” at Hotaru Komachi (蛍小町).
Location: 2-10-8 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo-ku, 112-8680
3~4: Cherry blossom, 5: Rabbitear Iris, 6: Hydrangea, firefly, 7~8: Lagerstroemia indica, 10: seven autumnal flowers, 11: maple tree, 12: Camellia sasanqua, 1: Prunus mume, 2: Camellia japonica and early cherry blossom
Price: free for scenery appreciation only
3. Spots around Shinokubo Station
This area is well known as the Korean Town, it is very small but you will find many Korean restaurants and grocery stores and so on. If you go down certain streets, you will find stalls selling Korean style food, which you can take away. On my trip to Shinokubo however, I went to a hotpot restaurant for a buffet with the coupon I got from a group shopping website.
Location: 〒169-0073 東京都新宿区百人町2-17-3
JR YAMANOTE Line, Shinokubo sta. 2 mins’ walking, Okubo sta. 1 min walking
This is the entertainment or red light district in Tokyo with many host and hostess clubs, love hotels, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, and is often called the “Sleepless town”. In recent years, it is has become well known from a book 『歌舞伎町案内人』 written by Chinese author, Xiaomu Li, who has been in Kabuki-cho working as a pimp for over 15 years. I advise that you be wary of hosts or restaurant staff hassling you in Japanese, English and Chinese to come to their hostess club or restaurant.
YAMANOTE Line, Shinjuku sta.
SEIBUSHINJUKU Line, Seibushinjuku sat.
View Shinjuku in a larger map