From Tocho to Arakicho: A One-Day Shinjuku Itinerary

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tocho, for short) is one of Tokyo’s most iconic landmarks and tourist attractions. It’s famous for its free twin observatories that offer breathtaking views of the city.
That being said, Tocho, located in Nishi-shinjuku also marks the western edge of what is typically considered “Tokyo proper.” This means that many Tokyo sightseers find themselves wondering what else they can do in this part of town after having checked Tocho off of their bucket lists.
That’s where this article comes in. Read on for a simple one-day itinerary that will take you across Shinjuku. We’ll travel from the west-side skyscraper district to Arakicho, the Showa era gourmet town on the east side of the ward.
You can use the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to aid you in your journey, however I highly recommend walking. Click here for one of many possible routes.

A morning on the west side

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (“Tocho”).

There’s no better way to start your day than getting a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings. From either of the 45th-floor observation decks in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (“Tocho,” for short), the city of Tokyo becomes a living map where you can plot your journey in real-time.
From here you’ll be able to see the Shinjuku Nomura Building and the Shinjuku NS Building—two other towering structures with magnificent views. Click here for a sky-high itinerary that will consume your morning on the west side of Shinjuku Station.

Lunch in the park

Shinjuku Gyoen from above.

It’s always a good idea to take a break from urban exploring. Why not take this opportunity to live like the locals and enjoy a bento lunch in one of Shinjuku’s famous parks? If hunger strikes while you are still out and about in the Nishi-shinjuku skyscraper district, hop into the nearest convenience store, pick up a bento, and relax in Shinjuku Chuo Park.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a slightly more elegant experience, swing by the basement floor of the Odakyu department store, conveniently located in Shinjuku Station, and pick up a fancier, more traditional bento. If you decide to splurge on lunch, you’ll need an equally splendid place to dine. This is where Shinjuku Gyoen comes in, located on the east side of Shinjuku Station. A 200-yen entrance fee is a small price to pay to enjoy a more refined setting for an impromptu picnic.

An afternoon of history

A model of east Shinjuku during the Edo Period (1603–1867). This main road is now Route 20 (Shinjuku Dori).

The hottest part of the day is the perfect time duck into a nice, air-conditioned museum. Fortunately, from fine art to firefighting history, Shinjuku is filled with a variety of excellent options. Click here for three outstanding museums that are all within walking distance of each other on the eastern side of Shinjuku. Once you’ve seen them all, you’ll be right where you need to be for dinner and a night on the town.

A night on the town in Arakicho

Vowz Bar, a bar owned and operated by Buddhist monks, is one of the most popular bars in Arakicho.

Places like Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho are excellent for downhome dining experiences and bar hopping. However, over the years, their popularity has ballooned, and they can often be crowded with locals and tourists alike.
Enter Arakicho: Shinjuku’s best-kept secret. With roots as a feudal lord’s residence and a geisha district, Arakicho is now a local gourmet town, full of hidden surprises. With nearly 400 bars and restaurants, Arakicho has something for everyone.
And don’t worry if you end up having a few too many drinks. Arakicho is home to its very own Edo-style Ryokan. It’s the perfect place to crash after a night on the town. Just make sure to make a reservation beforehand!

The Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan.

More to come

So, there you have it. A one-day itinerary that takes you across Shinjuku, from east to west. As I mentioned before, this itinerary is just one of many possibilities. Stay tuned for continuing coverage of Shinjuku and its best-kept secrets.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
From Tocho to Arakicho: A One-Day Shinjuku Itinerary

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


Address 12-4 Arakichō, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to,160-0007
Hours Check in: 4 p.m – 10 p.m.
Check out: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Price Visit < > for details
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Access Four-minute walk from Yotsuya-sanchome Station (Exit 4) via the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line
Phone +81-(0)3-6709-9677
Language Japanese