Shinjuku is the busy hub at the center of the city,
with over 2 million people passing through its main train station every
day. Life in Shinjuku encompasses everything from the formal tranquillity of Shinjuku-Gyoen park and high-rise government buildings to traditional
theaters, the sleazy entertainment area of Kabukicho and the gay district
of Nichome. Shinjuku is also a shopper’s paradise and is home to Japan’s largest department store, Takashimaya Times Square. Architecture ranges from the skyscraper offices of west Shinjuku to run-down yakitori shacks and a plethora of small bars in the area known as Golden Gai. Shinjuku never sleeps, as the streets remain filled with people, hustlers and neon till dawn.
Don Quijote (aka “Donki”) has the lowest prices imaginable, any time of day or night. The hard part is keeping your cool inside the cramped store overflowing with cheap goods and bargain hunters. 1-16-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5291-9211. Open 24 hours.
One of Japan’s top booksellers since 1964, the Takashimaya Kinokuniya stocks over 200,000 English and foreign books on the sixth floor. Takashimaya Times Square Annex Bldg, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5361-3301. Open Sun-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-8:30pm.
The I-club offers non-Japanese members a 5 percent discount on purchases, as well as language assistance. The Foreign Service desk can help with specific requests. Don’t miss the basement food court. 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3352-1111. Open daily 10am-8pm.
Marui (look for the “OIOI” sign; maru is Japanese for circle) has no less than five department stores in Shinjuku (including Field for sportswear and In The Room for furnishings). This branch is all men. 5-16-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3354-0101. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm; Sun & hols 11:30am-8:30pm.
Takashimaya & Tokyu Hands
A towering store devoted to all things domestic, Takashimaya stocks souvenirs, shoes, fashion and everything in between. Also houses lifestyle superstore Tokyu Hands. 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5361-1111. Open Sun-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-8:30pm.
Electronics and photography equipment galore make this a favorite with enthusiasts and professionals alike. Despite the name, Yodobashi also sells a lot more, including home electronics and computer equipment. 1-11-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3346-1010. Open daily 9:30am-10pm.
Select shop with men’s fashion downstairs, women’s upstairs, and an endlessly browseable trinket selection at ground level. 3-32-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Open daily 11am-8pm. Tel: 03-5368-7300. www.beams.co.jp
|BEST The Watch Dealer
Pick up a timepiece in this six-floor emporium in the middle of Shinjuku, near the famed Isetan Department Store. To make shopping easier, the watches are sorted by price, with used pieces in the basement. 3-17-12 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5360-6800. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Shinjuku, east exit.www.ishida-watch.com
Stylish clothing and accessories for men and women and a rooftop café that serves excellent hamburgers. 4-1-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5367-0175. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8:30pm; Sat-Sun 11am-8pm .
Three floors of imported designer menswear. There are sometimes bargains to be had in the Magic Cinq store downstairs. 3-26-18 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3354-4321. Open daily noon-9pm. www.kawano-group.co.jp
Smaller than the Shibuya monolith, this Shinjuku branch still stocks a wide range of music, DVDs, books and magazines. 7-10F Flags Bldg, 3-37-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5360-7811. Open daily 11am-11pm. www.towerrecords.co.jp
Stylishly designed two-floor restaurant complex atop the My City department store. All sorts of Japanese restaurants, oysters, Thai food, a Wolfgang Puck Café and more. 7/8F My City, 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3352-8421. ¥-¥¥¥
If you’re looking for cheap eats, this chain is the Holy Grail. Food and drinks are generally priced between ¥200-¥400. Just remember, you get what you pay for. For branch locations see www.teraken.co.jp/store. ¥
Dark, woody and lively, this classic izakaya in the heart of Kabukicho has a traditional Japanese feel and is constantly ranked as one of the best in Tokyo. 5F Dai-ichi Asagawa Bldg, 1-17-12 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3208-9772. Open Mon-Sat 5-11pm (L.O. 10pm). www.taruichi.co.jp ¥
The main branch of one of the most successful tempura empires offers reasonable
and filling set meals without compromising standards. Combinations with sashimi, seafood and more are popular here. 3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3352-1012. Open daily 11am-10:30pm (L.O. 10pm). ¥¥
The name Yasaiya literally means “restaurant specializing in vegetables,” and this place cooks healthy food making full use of the veggies’ natural flavors. Enjoy seasonal specialties raw or fried on a teppan hot plate, along with meat and fish, and a variety of drinks. B1 Kensei Bldg, 1-15-13 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5292-1130. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-5am. Nearest stn: Shinjuku (JR east exit). Credit cards accepted. www.vegedinning.com ¥¥
This tiny Chinese restaurant oozes character, with tables spilling out onto the alleyway it occupies in the backstreets of Shinjuku. The tantan-men noodles are recommended. 3-10-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3225-9262. Open daily 11:30am-11pm. ¥
This is where Tokyo’s Chinese community satisfies its cravings for served-from-a-cart Hong Kong-style dim sum. 3F Oriental Wave, 5-17-13 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3202-0121. Open daily 5-10:30pm. ¥¥
With friendly bilingual service, all-you-can-eat lunch deals for under ¥1,000, and lots of vegetarian dishes made to order, Taz Mahal offers a taste of traditional Indian food just one minute from Shinjuku station. A stylishly casual interior and some of the best paneer items and samosa in town make this restaurant a sure bet for a quick bite or a full meal. Try the ¥500 lunch boxes. Mirutosu Bldg, 1-4-19 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3343-1718. Open daily 11am-11pm (lunch until 4pm). Nearest stn: Shinjuku-Nishiguchi (Oedo line). ¥
German Beer &
Wine Stein Haus
This authentic German bar and restaurant stocks beers such as Paulaner, Spaten and Franziskaner, along with wine, sausage and ham imported direct from Germany. The stone interior provides an authentic atmosphere in a convenient location just a minute walk from the station. B1 Ida Bldg, 1-4-6 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5908-3558. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-4:30am, Sun & hols 5:30-11:30pm. www.zato.co.jp ¥¥¥
This casual trattoria-style Italian restaurant chain is renowned for its hearty portions and low prices. All dishes can be shared between parties of two or more. Tomatoes are imported from Italy daily to guarantee the freshest sauces. Washington Hotel Branch: B1 Shinjuku Washington Hotel, 3-2-9 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3343-3882. Open 11:30am-10pm (L.O.). Island Tower Branch: B1 Shinjuku Island Tower, 6-5-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3346-3746. Open 11:30am-10pm (L.O.). Higashi-Guchi Branch: B1 Musashino-kan Bldg, 3-27-10 Shinjuku-ku (in the basement of Zara). Tel: 03-3341-6066. Open noon-10:30pm (L.O.). www.capricciosa.com ¥
Zato Trading Co., renowned throughout Tokyo for their authentic European-style pubs, opened this wine bar-restaurant in Ikebukuro’s new Echika complex in March. Gourmet dishes like chicken Marengo with herb bread (¥1,200) are made with imported French spices, and complemented by a selection of over 100 wines from France, Italy, California, Argentina and more (bottles from ¥2,800). Echika Ikebukuro, 3-28-14 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-5985-5090. Open for lunch daily 11:30am-3pm; cafe 3-5pm; dinner & bar 5-11pm. Nearest stn: Ikebukuro.
Hundreds of beers, mostly from Belgium. A cozy interior and Euro-style fixtures add to the relaxed atmosphere. B1 Shinjuku Shimatsu Bldg, 2-11-20 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5371-0666. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-2am, Sun 3-11pm, closed every 2nd Sun.
Alcazar is an extravagant revue featuring a lineup of talented transsexual actors. Three daily shows will make you laugh out loud. Take a date or have a girl’s night out—80 percent of the crowd are women. Located near the Shinjuku Ward Office. 2F Toyo Bldg, 1-2-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3209-3350. Three shows daily at 6:20pm (open 5:30pm), 8pm (7:30pm), 9:40pm (9:10pm). Nearest stn: Shinjuku. www.alcazar.ne.jp
Enjoy an authentic Irish experience less than 5 minutes from Shinjuku station’s east exit. The Dubliners' food is based on traditional recipes and there is a wide selection of Irish beers—including Guinness, of course—and whiskeys, as well as mainstream cocktails and soft drinks. Happy hour is every weekday from 3-7pm, and the pub also features new lunch and tea-time menus. Other branches throughout the city. 2F Shinjuku Lion Kaikan, 3-28-9 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3352-6606. Open Mon-Sat noon-1am, Sun & hols noon-11pm.
Shinjuku-Gyoen park Built in 1906, this idyllic oasis has teahouses, lakes and gardens with beautiful cityscapes in the background|Tokyo Metropolitan City Government offices Head for the observation deck on the 45th floor of the main building|KabukichO After dark
this red-light district is buzzing
with pachinko and personality, and it served as the inspiration for Blade Runner|Shinjuku Station This is truly the world’s busiest train station; a pass through at rush hour proves it|Studio Alta TV screen A favorite Shinjuku meeting place|Golden Gai Sip a scotch with the intelligentsia in these tiny drinking dens|Takashimaya Times Square Home to Tokyu Hands, the towering Takashimaya department store and Kinokuniya bookstore|Okubo Have your kimchi here, the Korean equivalent of Yokohama’s Chinatown