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The best 12 things to do in Shinjuku for tourists

Visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Godzilla Head, Kabukicho, Historical Museum, and many other attractions while traveling.

Julio Osuna

March 14, 2024

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Shinjuku, a bustling district in Tokyo, offers a plethora of attractions and activities for travelers to explore. From serene gardens to vibrant entertainment hubs, Shinjuku promises an unforgettable experience. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Shinjuku, ensuring you make the most of your visit.

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What is Shinjuku best known for?

The Tokyo ward of Shinjuku is the popular area surrounding Shinjuku station. As one of the busiest metro stations in the world, more than 2 million passengers commute through the station every single day. 

The station’s bustling business, commercial, and entertainment sectors have hot tourist attractions and vibrant nightlife.

Best things to do: Shinjuku attractions

Tour through Shinjuku’s top attractions, each offering a unique glimpse into the district’s charm and wonders.

1. Visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

A patch of tranquility among the constant hustle and bustle can be found at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, an oasis in the heart of the city. With beautifully maintained trees and flora, you can spend some time here with your travel companions, or if you’re traveling alone, breathe in the fresh air!

Explore the greenhouse with different tropical plants and find gardens in American and French styles. Admission tickets cost around $3.50 USD per person.

The park has 3 entrance gates:

  • Shinjuku Gate: A ten-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station
  • Okido Gate: A five-minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station
  • Sendagaya Gate: A five-minute walk from JR Sendagaya Station

2. Go to the Shinjuku Golden Gai

Step back in time at Shinjuku Golden Gai, a historic area renowned for its narrow alleys and tiny bars. You won’t be looking at antique art or old exhibitions, but you will dive into the nightlife of post-war Japan. With over 200 bars in these alleys, you’ll have all night for a complete Japanese experience.

One crucial detail to remember is that these are small spaces, and some bars prefer to keep their seats available for their regular customers. So don’t be shocked if you see signs that say “no tourists,” “no foreigners,” or “only regulars.” 

Since this is a public space, there is no entry fee, and to get there, you just have to get off Shinjuku station and walk for a few minutes. The Shinjuku Golden Gai is located between the Hanazono Shrine and the Shinjuku City Office.

Enjoy an authenic experience at the Golden Gai
Enjoy an authentic experience at the Golden Gai. Source: Unsplash

3. Indulge in Robot Restaurant

Just a 5-minute walk from the Shinjunku station, you’ll find the Robot Restaurant. You might think it’s just a place with robot servers, or perhaps the theme is related to the Transformers, but no. This local and touristic attraction is not about the food; it’s about the spectacle.

With an entry fee of around $65, you’ll be able to witness a spectacular show and dances for around 2 hours, and the best part is that you can choose between a meal or two drinks included in the ticket price. This is definitely one of the best and funniest things to do, so don’t forget to upload that picture at this iconic eatery and theater in Shinjuku!

4. Enjoy the Shinjuku Comedy Theater

Take a tissue to wipe your tears of laughter at the Shinjuku Comey Theather. You won’t laugh at the jokes but at the silent performances. For 1–2 hours, you’ll enjoy one of the most iconic shows of comedy theater in Shinjuku.

Tickets start at about $25 USD, and the theater is located beside the metro station; you don’t have to go far to find it. We recommend arriving around 30 minutes before the show starts and having your tickets ready.

5. Walk down the Shinjuku Historical Museum

Learn about the prehistoric past of Shinjuku at the Historical Museum, located just around 6 minutes from the metro station. 

You’ll be surprised at how long this area has been inhabited, even before Japan became a nation. You’ll see exhibits from 12,000 years ago, from the different imperial periods, and a life-size replica of a shopping street and shops.

The museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Admission tickets cost $2.50 for adults and around $1 for children.

Best things to see in Shinjuku for tourists

Discover the iconic landmarks and hidden gems that define Shinjuku’s cultural landscape.

6. Visit Omoide Yokocho for a classic Japanese experience

Also called Memory Lane, the crammed alleys of Omoide Yokocho offer a very traditional and authentic Japanese experience for foreigners and a rest stop after work for the locals.

Generally, these small stalls offer a variety of quickly prepared foods called izakaya. This can be grilled seafood, chicken, pork, beef and more! 

One recommendation is not to smoke while walking; you can smoke once you’ve sat down and ashtrays are provided. Memory Lane is located close to the West exit of Shinjuku Station.

Indulge in izakaya at Omoide Yokocho.
Indulge in izakaya at Omoide Yokocho. Source: Unsplash

7. Enjoy a sports match in the New National Stadium

For all those sports fans visiting Shinjuku, the New National Stadium is a top attraction and one of the best things to see while visiting. It has a capacity for 68,000 spectators and an ecological design that catches the wind on those hot days.

Admire the blend of traditional and modern architecture with the use of cedar wood on the outside, taken from all 47 prefectures of Japan.

Get to the stadium from Kokuritsu-Kyogijo Station on the Toei-Oedo Subway Line, or walk just five minutes from Sendagaya Station. Entry tickets have a cost of around $10 per person.

8. Visit Kabukicho

As the biggest Red-Light area in Shinjuku, this is one of the things to do and see without the kids. You’ll find traditional adult entertainment shows, bars, and restaurants. There are also attractions like samurai shows, obstacle courses, and nuances you’ll only find in this area.

Walk about ten minutes out of the north exit of Shinjuku station, and you’ll start feeling the adrenaline rush of Kabukicho. Entry fees apply depending on the establishment, and remember to take ID for adult-only spaces.

The services that you can find here are the following:

  • 1. Hostess Clubs
  • 2. Karaoke Bars
  • 3. Cabaret Clubs
  • 4. Love Hotels
  • 5. Soaplands
  • 6. Strip Clubs
  • 7. Massage Parlors (including Thai Massages)
  • 8. Adult Shops
  • 9. Pachinko Parlors

9. Take a walk on the Hanazono Shrine

Close to the alternative Kabukicho, you’ll find the serene and calm Hanazono Shrine. Explore the traditional and peculiar architecture and the different products offered at the stalls and shops. If you happen to be there during the best time to travel to Japan, which is during the cherry blossom season between late March and early April, take a stroll and admire the pink beauties.

Additionally, festivals are held in the shrine each year, for example:  

  • 1. New Year’s Prayer on New Year’s Night
  • 2. Reitaisai Festival (late May)
  • 3. Tori-no-Ichi Festival (November)

There’s no charge to visit this shrine nor to get there; head out through the east exit of Shinjuku Station, and after about a five-minute walk, you will see a small alley between a Family Mart convenience store and the Tsukiji Sushiko sushi restaurant.

Enjoy the multiple festivals and activities at Hanazono Shrine
Enjoy the multiple festivals and activities at Hanazono Shrine. Source: Unsplash

10. Take a picture with the Godzilla Head

Take a picture and show it off on social media of one of the most recognized movie characters of all time. At the Godzilla head and claw towering over Toho Cinema, you’ll see how its eyes glow, the blue steam of neon, and the iconic roar.

Very close to the Don Quijote store, it’s one of the best things to do in Shinjuku for free.

11. Experience the Ninja Trick House 

Learn about the traditional martial arts in Japan at the Ninja Trick House. Here, you can discover the traditional ninja outfit, strategies, and tactics on a 45-minute tour and even see real live demonstrations. Here is a layout of what you can expect on the tour:

Ninja anime videosAbout 5 mins
Attach a sword to your waist!Approx. 10 mins
Ninja sword demonstration and explanation / Kids’ trick experienceAbout 5 mins
Kenjutsu sword fighting experienceApprox. 10 mins
Shuriken Throwing Approx. 10 mins
Demonstration and explanation of the Nine Character Self-Defense ActApprox. 2 mins

This is the perfect attraction and place to go with the kids in Shinjuku. The Ninja Trick House is located at an 8-minute walk from the east exit from Shinjuku Station. Admission tickets are purchased online and prices are the following: 

Adults (+18):1 x $21.27

Children (4 – 17):1 x $18.62

Infant(1 – 3):1 x $6.65

12. Go to the SOMPO Museum of Art

Drop by the SOMPO Museum of Art and see the talented exhibitions of renowned artists and new and emerging artists. See the difference in styles and techniques, giving you different perspectives. The museum’s exhibition schedule is on its website, so take a peek before you leave to know what is currently being presented.

Visit the cafeteria and the shop for the perfect souvenirs.

If you’re taking the metro to get there, get off at Shinjuku Station at the West exit, and it’ll be just a 5-minute walk. Their opening hours are 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and the last admission is at 17:30. 

CategoryPrice USD
High School Students with IDFree
Junior High school students with IDFree
Children (under age 12)Free

General tips for tourists in Shinjuku

Here are some general tips for tourists in Shinjuku that will help them avoid issues while on the trip.

  • Pack wisely for international travel and keep in mind the season
  • Plan out your tour with the Japan Travel Guide
  • Create an itinerary with all the places you want to go and see
  • Take essential toiletries with you for the long haul
  • Make sure you take cash and a card to have several payment options available
  • Stay connected with the eSIM for a seamless internet connection throughout your travels

With the Holafly eSIM for Tokyo, you’ll get:

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  • Connect as soon as you land
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Ready to explore Shinjuku?

Shinjuku is a great place to visit if you love excitement, history, and the nightlife. Go on an exciting journey through this vibrant neighborhood and make memories that will last a lifetime. Visit Shinjuku like never before and stay connected with no issues.

FAQ about things to do in Shinjuku

What to do in Shinjuku?

Shinjuku offers various attractions and activities, including gardens, museums, and entertainment districts. Visitors can explore iconic landmarks like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Kabukicho, and the SOMPO.

Is Shinjuku worth going to?

Absolutely! Shinjuku is a vibrant and dynamic district renowned for its bustling streets, vibrant nightlife, and history. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Shinjuku promises unforgettable experiences.

Is Shinjuku a good place to stay in Tokyo?

Yes, Shinjuku is an excellent base for exploring and finding things to do in Tokyo, thanks to its convenient location, excellent transportation, and diverse options of where to stay.

Is Shinjuku or Shibuya better?

Both Shinjuku and Shibuya are vibrant districts in Tokyo, each with its own unique charm and attractions. While Shinjuku is known for its bustling nightlife and cultural landmarks, Shibuya is renowned for its trendy fashion boutiques and iconic pedestrian crossing.