- The westside skyscraper district (Nishi-Shinjuku)
- Eastside entertainment
- The south side and Shinjuku Southern Terrace
- Finding your way around
The westside skyscraper district (Nishi-Shinjuku)
With more entertainment and excitement than you would expect from a “skyscraper district,” there are plenty of activities and places to explore on the west side of Shinjuku Station.
With Keio and Odakyu department stores as well as major branches of all three of the country’s largest electronics retailers (Yamada Denki, Yodobashi Camera, and Bic Camera) right outside of the station’s West Exit, you could easily spend a whole day shopping and miss out on everything else Nishi-Shinjuku offers.
Push past all the massive shopping venues near the station, and you’ll find a variety of dining options. Everything from quick and affordable local favorites to fine dining in some of Tokyo’s most glamorous hotels is at your fingertips.
After your meal, kick back and enjoy amazing bird’s-eye views from several sky-high observatories, including the free-to-enter Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. If nature and history are your thing, spend part of your day in Shinjuku Chuo Park and learn about the birth of Japan’s film and camera industry.
Shinjuku Station’s East Exit leads to Shinjuku-sanchome, one of Tokyo’s nightlife hotspots. To the northeast, you’ll find the famous (or perhaps infamous) entertainment district of Kabukicho. Over the years, Kabukicho has been gradually expanding beyond its red-light roots and is now home to several attractions that anyone can enjoy.
Check out the latest in innovative virtual reality entertainment at the VR Zone Shinjuku, travel back in time at the Samurai Museum, or get up close and personal with the King of the Monsters himself. You can even find a historic shrine if you make your way beyond the back-alley bars of Golden Gai.
Eastside Shinjuku, however, is much more than Kabukicho. Stroll down Route 430 (which is often closed to vehicle traffic on weekends) and you’ll have access to an endless array of shopping and dining experiences. From Kinokuniya Books to the high fashion brands of Isetan, east Shinjuku is only topped by the glitz and glamor of Ginza.
The south side and Shinjuku Southern Terrace
At first, it’s hard to distinguish between the east and south sides of Shinjuku Station since they blend seamlessly. That being said, the southern exits of Shinjuku Station are the fastest way to reach Shinjuku Gyoen if you’re sticking to JR Lines for transportation.
The south side is also home to Shinjuku Southern Terrace which features Japan’s largest bus depot—the simultaneously amusingly and aptly named Buster Shinjuku. This is complemented by the trendy shops and restaurants of the brand-new NEWoMan shopping and office complex.
Venture further south and you’ll find the Takashimaya department store coupled with Tokyu Hands—a one stop shop for unique souvenir shopping. Swing by during the holiday season and treat yourself to an unforgettable illumination display.
Finding your way around
Shinjuku Station is overwhelming at first, and you may be tempted to go from district to district by walking around the station. This approach is fine if you have plenty of time on your hands, but for maximum efficiency it’s best to go through (or under) the massive station.
To get from one side to the other (or from one train line to another), head inside or underground and take advantage of the numerous wayfinding signs that guide you to the destinations listed in this article.
The underground passageways above the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line will take you back and forth between the west and east sides (it’s also a great way to avoid bad weather).
Additionally, Mosaic Street (more like a “passage” than an actual street”), between the Odakyu and Keio department stores, is a great shortcut between the west and southern sides of the station.
If you’re still anxious about finding your way around, you can always break out your smartphone and prepare ahead of time by playing Shinjuku Dungeon—a game that takes place in a simple yet strikingly accurate depiction of Shinjuku Station.
Honestly, getting lost in Shinjuku Station is really no big deal. Just like traveling anywhere in Japan, there are plenty of people willing to help you get around, and losing your way often leads to gaining all kinds of fantastic new experiences.