Monday, August 22, 2016

Tokyo Travel Diaries: Things To Do in Shinjuku

I just watched the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics, and got so excited when I found out the next summer games will be held in Tokyo, Japan! Hubby and I seriously fell in love with this city when we visited last year and can't wait to be back. Anyway, was reminiscing about our vacation and realized I still hadn't posted about some of the places we went to, including Shinjuku.

Shinjuku is a large and vibrant entertainment, business and shopping area. There's so much to see and do in this part of Tokyo alone, which is why we chose this as the location of our Airbnb. Here's some of the places we went to when we were there:

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

You can visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for its FREE observation decks which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. The 243 meter tall building has two towers with observatories on the 45th floor, each with a cafe and a souvenir shop. We went there at night so only the North Observatory was open.

North Observatory: 9:30 to 23:00
South Observatory: 9:30 to 17:30 (until 23:00 when North Observatory is closed)
Admission end 30 minutes before closing time

North Observatory: 2nd and 4th Monday of each month (next day if national holiday)
South Observatory: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month (next day if national holiday)
Both observatories: December 29 to January 3 (except January 1)

Omoide Yokocho

We were just walking around Shinjuku on our first night and stumbled upon this alley filled with lots of hole-in-the-wall restos. We didn't know then it was the famous Omoide Yokocho, also known under its more colorful nickname "Piss Alley". We would actually pass this place every night on the way home since it's along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station. Restaurants are typically open from 5pm to midnight, although some are open for lunch.

this looks like a map of the restaurants found here, but no English version

Anyway, the narrow lanes are filled with dozens of tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi, and yakitori. Most restaurants consist of just one counter with some chairs, while others have a couple of tables. It was hard choosing where to eat, but some were really full and crowded. We ended up in a yakitori stall and the food was really so good!


There are lots of department stores, malls and electronic shops around Shinjuku. One of the most popular is Isetan, which consists of ten floors, including restaurants on the top floors and a food department in the basement. Other department stores include Takashimaya and Odakyu. Then there's also Don Quijote, a discount store that sells just about everything and Tokyu Hands, another a large variety goods shop.

love all the colorful art on the building
Isetan's window displays remind me of Rustan's

Shinjuku Gyoen

If you want to experience nature and some quiet in the city, head over to Shinjuku Gyoen which is located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station. This is one of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks and I blogged more about this beautiful place HERE.


This is actually Japan's largest red light district and features countless restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. At first I was a little worried since our Airbnb apartment was located in this area, but Japan is really very safe. We actually enjoyed the walk home every night since everything was so alive! Although there were a lot of guys trying to get people into their clubs, they never bothered me and my husband. Probably because I was with him lol! ;p

In the middle of it all is Hotel Gracery, which features a 12 meter tall Godzilla head peeking out from the 8th floor terrace of the hotel.


Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station is the world's busiest railway station. It was such a rush everytime we would step foot here, with all the people trying to get to the different platforms. The station is HUGE and you can find lots of stores here, like Lumine which is located both next to and above Shinjuku Station's South and East Exits.


And of course, you will never go hungry in the Shinjuku area since there are so many restaurants everywhere! I don't think we even had a bad meal in Japan. So fun to explore and try as much as you can.

Shinjuku is definitely a great area to stay in when in Tokyo. You'll never run out of things to see and do. Anyway, adding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to my bucket list! :)

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