Tokyo: travel guide to Shinjuku - what to see and where to eat
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and is the obligatory stop for every time you come to visit the Rising Sun. It is a megalopolis that boasts over 10 million inhabitants and is always evolving: for this reason you never stop discovering it and every time you go back you always notice something different and new. This beautiful city is the hub of Japan as it encompasses all facets of the entire country in its iconic neighborhoods. In Tokyo we must necessarily go back in time: explaining the emotions that this city is able to give is not possible, you have to live them. Only those who have been there can understand it. As a minimum stay, I recommend staying no less than a week: Tokyo should also be explored on foot, admired in its alleys and views. You can't hit and run, it wouldn't make any sense, especially if it's your first time here.
Information before leaving, how to get there, how to get around, where to stay here.
It is one of the largest and most lively districts of Tokyo, it is said that Shinjuku never sleeps. Its railway hub is the busiest in the world and it is one of the few areas of the capital with many skyscrapers.
As it is easy to understand, this area offers a lot in terms of restaurants and night entertainment, as well as a wide range of cheap hotels and perfectly connected by public transport.
WHAT TO SEE
TOKYO METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT BUILDING
More commonly called the Tokyo Palace, it houses the headquarters of the capital's metropolitan government. Here it is possible to go up to the top floors for free to enjoy a fabulous view of Tokyo, particularly fascinating at sunset.
Open 08:30am - 5pm, closed on Saturdays and Sundays
Vast red-light area within Shinjuku known for its lively nightlife since 1872. In fact, here, in addition to numerous restaurants and normal commercial activities, there are decides of night clubs, host clubs, love hotels, soap lands, pachinko and numerous other adult establishments run by the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). If you're wondering if this is a dangerous neighborhood, the answer is absolutely not. The important thing is not to annoy the girls, the club managers or even take pictures of people on the street.
Nice little curiosity: walking around the courtyard always look up because on the top of the Hotel Gracery you will find the giant head of Godzilla!
It is a small area of Kabukicho made up of a maze of very small streets and 200 bars that can accommodate about three customers, never more than ten.
The premises here are bizarre, with a dilapidated facade and seem to come from a very distant era. It is no coincidence that in the past this area was mainly frequented by artists.
Personally, this is one of the areas of Tokyo that I love the most: I recommend you come in the evening because it is after sunset that the bars come to life. It would be better to go with someone who knows Japanese well, as finding someone who speaks English is very difficult, much more because these bars are cramped and are suitable for those who want to socialise.
It is a small area basically composed of two narrow streets that will take you back in time to the Showa period (1926-1989). At the end of the Second World War, in fact, the first food and clothing stalls were established right here.
Today it is a very interesting area made up of about 80 very narrow, run-down establishments offering yakitori, soba and gyoza.
With each change of season, the shops are decorated with characteristic ornamental motifs: in spring, for example, with cherry blossoms and in autumn with Japanese maple leaves.
Compared to Golden Gai, Omoide Yokocho is very touristy: it is not uncommon to see European and American tourists sitting close together at the counters. Surely for this reason the quality of the food is not very high, as well as the prices are decidedly high. But if it's your first time here then try one of the many kiosks, it will still be a memorable experience. Visits are recommended between 5pm and 10:30pm.
Neighborhood located next to Shinjuku but with a separate JR Line stop, otherwise known as Korea Town. In fact, here the Japanese ideograms are followed by hangul: dozens of Korean restaurants and shops with beauty products will make you lose your mind!
I personally loved this neighborhood madly and here I did the best cosmetic shopping ever.
The prices are really low, both for cosmetics and for food (the street food is delicious), as well as for the grocery stores and the hundreds of Kpop-related gadgets on sale.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
The whole Shinjuku area is full of clubs, bars and restaurants: you will be spoiled for choice. I recommend you try the Chinese (there are so many restaurants) and Korean cuisine in Shin Okubo.
It is one of the oldest izakaya in Omoide Yokocho. Here you can enjoy a great variety of yakitori, the famous Japanese skewers cooked over charcoal, accompanied by beer or excellent umeshu.
Open 12am - 12pm and 3:30pm - 12am, address: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023
NOBUYOSHIKA SHIN-OKUBO / 延吉香 新大久保店
Small Chinese izakaya frequented practically only by Japanese, almost all office workers who come here for dinner in the company of colleagues before returning home. It offers a vast menu at absurdly low prices, in fact it is always full. Excellent quality of food.
Opening 11am - 12pm, website, address: 〒169-0073 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku City, Hyakuninchō, 2-chōme−2−１ 本橋ビル B1
PARK HYATT / NEW YORK BAR
Drinking a cocktail sitting in the same seat as Scarlett Johansson in the film Lost in Translation has always been a secret dream. As a big fan of Sofia Coppola, I wouldn't have missed an evening at the New York Bar, located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt.
This is an experience that I recommend to all those who love live music and refined environments, especially couples. In a scenario reminiscent of Blade Runner you will be literally fascinated by the atmosphere.
It is not possible to reserve a seat, so arrive early if you want to find the seat you want. You must also follow the dress code: after 5pm dresses that are too short are not allowed and men must wear a shirt. Sportswear and short sleeves are not permitted for both genders.
Live Jazz every night Mon-Wed 8pm-11.45pm, Wed-Saturday 8pm-12.30am, Sun 7pm-10.45pm, a fee applies for live music of 2500¥ each from Monday to Sunday from 10pm and Sunday from 7pm, website, address: 3-7-1-2, Nishishinjuku, Tokyo 163-1055
This is not a restaurant but an incredibly stocked wine shop located in Kabukicho.
If like me you appreciate Japanese liqueurs and spirits and want to make great purchases at very good prices, then you cannot miss this shop! Here you will find a very wide choice of high quality products, as well as numerous accompanying snacks (such as salted dried fruit) and all the most disparate curiosities to make an excellent aperitif or after dinner at home.
Open 4pm - 4am, closed Sunday, website, address: 1 Chome-2-16 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021