Shinjuku: Tokyo’s Deep Nightlife Hub with Plenty of Bright Spots During the Day

新宿 Shinjuku is one of Japan’s busiest and fastest-moving areas, but those who can keep up will find themselves rewarded with a buzzing playground that can satisfy nearly any reason to travel to Tokyo. Shinjuku is a Tokyo neighborhood with two sides. It boasts towering skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and shopping centers characteristic of a vital business district. It also provides Tokyo’s most adventurous nightlife, with tasty dishes, entertainment, and drinking establishments that will leave you with quite the impression and an appetite for more.

Shinjuku is a sprawling city hub for business, food, and entertainment in Tokyo.


Shinjuku Station (JY17, JC05, JB10, JS20, JA11) is accessible via many (although not all) JR lines, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, the Keio Line, the Odakyu Electric Railway, the Toei Shinjuku, and the Toei Oedo Line. While most of the major districts and attractions one wants to explore while in Shinjuku are a walkable distance from the proper exit, the true challenge is in navigating the station itself. Shinjuku Station is often called the busiest railway station in the world and is almost constantly crowded. Those not accustomed to its layout and pace may feel as if they are in a bit of a labyrinth. It’s highly recommended to follow the many signs and directions shared on the walls to get to your destination smoothly.

Shinjuku Station is one of Japan’s biggest and busiest train stations, so be sure to follow signs and directions to navigate it smoothly.

Food and Drink

As such a well-visited area, Shinjuku has an abundance of food options to accommodate its many travelers. Shinjuku’s seemingly countless restaurants run the gamut of Japanese and international cuisine options, so you’ll always have something to dig into whether it be while exploring during the day or deep into the area’s vibrant nightlife.

Kabukichō is a haven for late-night Japanese pub grub, including favorites like yakitori chicken skewers. [Photo for illustrative purposes only]

歌舞伎町 Kabukichō: Kabukichō is the highlight of Shinjuku’s nightlife that almost never stops running. Filled with the bright lights of countless izakaya pubs, pachinko parlors, arcades, and restaurants, Kabukichō is a constantly buzzing district filled with things to eat. While Kabukichō has a reputation as a red-light district due to its many host clubs, hostess bars, and love hotels, those looking simply for food and drink will have no problem during either time of day. During the day you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants, while at night, izakayas, yakiniku, ramen, and yakitori shops thrive.

The entrance to Kabukichō, one of Tokyo’s most vibrant nightlife districts.

思い出横丁 Omoide Yokochō: The name of this small network of alleyway bars translates to “Memory Lane,” and is found just along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station. Despite its cozy appearance of small one-table bars, the neighborhood is quite receptive to tourists and serves favorites such as ramen, sushi, and yakitori paired with Japanese beer and liquor options that you’ll be drinking shoulder to shoulder with local bar patrons.

新宿ゴールデン街 Shinjuku Golden Gai: Golden Gai is another alleyway network of 200 small bars and restaurants with a very lively atmosphere. While several bars are only open to regulars, others openly welcome foreign tourists in with English menus and traditional Japanese pub food.

Enjoying Japanese pub grub and drinks at mall but cozy pubs in Golden Gai and Omoide Yokochō. [Photo for illustrative purposes only]

Department stores: Those looking for something different than the bustling nightlife can explore either of the nearby department stores. The Isetan, Keio, Odakyu, and Takashimaya department stores are not just centers for shopping fashion but also provide plenty of restaurants offering varied menus and delis where you can pack up a delicious bento to take to a nearby park or on your next commute.

Hotels: Whether you’re staying in them or not, many of the luxurious hotels on Shinjuku’s western side offer some high-end restaurants with gorgeous views. Those looking for some movie nostalgia with their meal or drink may want to visit Park Hyatt Tokyo, the famous hotel featured in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.


While you will find a great deal of smaller specialty shops (particularly electronics, bargain goods, and anime goods) navigating the area around Kabukichō, there is a lot of shopping to be done on the floors of Shinjuku’s expansive department stores.

Isetan: Isetan is a high-end department store that offers a wide range of luxury fashion, accessories, and home goods.

The landmark Isetan department store is a great place to find souvenirs, as well as gourmet dining options.

Takashimaya: Takashimaya is another upscale department store that features high-end brands and products, as well as a wide range of restaurants and cafes.

Lumine: Lumine is a popular shopping complex that features a variety of fashion and accessory brands, as well as restaurants and cafes.

Sightseeing and Attractions

新宿御苑 Shinjuku Gyo-en: Just a short walk from Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station, travelers can take a break away from all the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku’s more lively areas at one of Tokyo’s largest and prettiest parks. Celebrated as one of Tokyo’s top cherry blossom viewing spots, the park is an exceptionally pleasant visit in the spring. Shinjuku Gyo-en is large enough to take leisurely strolls through lush green nature, exercise, or simply pack a delicious lunch from a nearby department store or vendor and appreciate the peace and quiet.

Shinjuku Gyo-en provides a serene and scenic reprieve from Shinjuku’s fast pace. [Photo for illustrative purposes only]

東急歌舞伎町タワー Tokyu Kabukichō Tower: Tokyu Kabukichō Tower is a new 225-meter-tall entertainment complex and skyscraper that houses a wide range of facilities including luxury hotel rooms, art spaces, theaters, a huge gaming arcade, and a grand food hall that serves as a new attractive landmark in the heart of Shinjuku. A trip to the Tokyu Kabukichō Tower is a great way to sample the eclectic sights, sounds, and tastes of Tokyo’s popular nightlife district.

The new Tokyu Kabukichō Tower offers enough entertainment and dining options to fill a day.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office: Don’t be fooled by the business-like name. While the 243m tall building does house assembly halls and offices, the 45th floor of both towers have an observation deck with an amazing view. On a clear day, you can take in nearly all of the greater Tokyo area and even see Mt. Fuji in the distance. Stop by the souvenir shop for a gift to remember the view.

Overall, Shinjuku is very much a big sample platter of many of the sights and sounds of Tokyo that appetize those who are first introduced to it via visual media. The area’s deep and dynamic nightlife matches the business of its many workers and commuters with a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere that can be very adventurous for foreign travelers. Those looking to enjoy it at a slower pace will find things to their liking as well, however, with serene parks, brilliant views, and extensive shopping options all available within walking distance of the station.