Shinjuku Travel Guide 新宿

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  • Take in bird’s-eye view from top of TMG, devour sweets and pizza at NEWoMan, and finish off the night with yakitori and drinks on Memory Lane in this Shinjuku Travel Guide.

    Just One Cookbook children in Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    We often get asked by friends and readers on Japan travel tips and itineraries so we try our best to share our Japan experiences on the blog.  However, one city we didn’t have much travel content on was Tokyo.  Why?  Since Nami’s family only lives 7 miles (15 km) from Tokyo and 15 miles (23 km) to Shibuya, it never seemed like a “Japan travel destination” for us.

    As we get repeated request for Tokyo travel guide, we spent 6 days this past summer in Tokyo exploring different wards, activities to do, places to visit and eat.  This is just the beginning of our Tokyo travel guide and we’ll continue adding to these posts as we explore new adventure and experiences.  We hope you will enjoy traveling throughout Tokyo with our family.

    The reality is that it’s impossible to finish exploring Tokyo in 6 days, or even possibly a month.  There are simply way too many options for dining, sightseeing, and entertainment!  This is our first effort to share Tokyo with you and we hope you’ll enjoy our journey.  There is something for everyone in Tokyo so pick and choose what your heart desires when you visit.

    For the Tokyo travel guide series, we’ll share the following posts:

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

    You might notice there are many areas/wards/stations we missed in Tokyo from the above list, like Tokyo Station.  It’s because we simply ran out of time to cover and will add it in a future trip.  If you have any specific requests, please comment below and we’ll try to add it to our future itineraries.

    Shinjuku Travel Guide

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Decks

    Tokyo is a large city and it’s easy to lose your orientation as the streets curves in every direction (vs. NY and LA), and subway maps are usually not drawn to scale.  What better way to know a city than to visualize it from up top.

    One of the most popular observatories in Tokyo is from the 45th floor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Building at 660 feet (202 meters) above ground.  The best part, the view!  The second best part, it’s free!  Nami and I have been to the TMG observatory more than 5 times and the views of Tokyo never gets old.

    view of Tokyo skyline from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    When you get to Shinjuku Station (or any subway station in Tokyo), there are usually multiple exits.  Almost all the stations have a detail “exits” map and show you which exit you should take for where you want to go.  Make sure to always take a look to understand what exit makes the most sense.

    Shinjuku Subway Exit map - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    Click to enlarge exit map.

    For the Tokyo metro exit at Shinjuku, there are 9 different ones.  By looking at exit information, we know to take either A3 or A4 for TMG Observatory.  If you arrive in Shinjuku on a different subway line, your exit map will look different than the one above.

    Just One Cookbook family on escalator in Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook child in Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building exit from the subway - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Shinjuku Skyscrapers - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    View of Shinjuku skyscrapers.
    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Building

    There are 2 observatories in TMG as there are 2 towers, the north tower, and the south tower.  The South Observation Deck is closed on the first and third Tuesday of every month and the North Observation Deck is closed on second and fourth Monday of every month.

    We recommend the South tower as a big part of the North Tower windows is taken up by a cafe/bar blocking free visitor access.

    North Observatory elevator at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    North Observatory Elevator.

    Just One Cookbook children at South Observatory Elevator Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    A quick 45 stories later in the elevator, we got to enjoy the 360º views of Tokyo.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory Elevator - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Shinjuku Skyscrapers - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    view of Tokyo skyline and Tokyo Skytree from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    View of Tokyo skyline and Tokyo Skytree.

    view of Tokyo skyline and park from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    view of Tokyo skyline from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    There was a special sale featuring products from every prefecture in Japan when we visited.

    prefectural souvenirs at South Observatory Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    From Nami’s prefecture (Kanagawa神奈川県), the specialties were Navy Curry, biscuit, and soy sauce.

    prefectural souvenirs at South Observatory Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    There’s also the standard gift shop on the observatory floor to purchase for friends and family.

    food shape candies Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building gift shop - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Another great resource for visitors to Tokyo is the Tokyo Tourist Information Center on the first floor of TMG.  You can get free maps, ask about accommodations, free wifi, and other tourist service help there.

    Tokyo Tourist Information Center inside Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Tokyo Tourist Information Center service contents inside Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook children in front of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    After visiting the TMG Observatory, you might want to grab a bite.  There’s probably every cuisine you can think of available in the Shinjuku area, but not every restaurant is open for lunch.  We’ll list the best lunch restaurants and other eateries from Tabelog for Shinjuku at the end of this post.

    Department Stores – Shinjuku Travel Guide

    If you forget any clothing at home for your trip, don’t worry, there are plenty of shopping you can do in Shinjuku.  Besides the various retail stores and Lumine, other mega department stores include ISETAN (Shinjuku ISETAN Food Floor), Takashimaya, Keio, and Odakyu.  At each department store, there are many cafes and restaurants to relax in.

    Google Maps Shinjuku Department Stores
    Click to enlarge map.

    sign for Lumine1 - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Marui Department Store Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Isetan Department Store - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    Click to visit the ISETAN Food Floor!

    Beam Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook child standing in front of Beam Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Bicqlo hybird store - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Self checkout at Uniqlo - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    Self-checkout at Biqlo (Big Camera + Uniqlo Store)

    Besides the department stores, there are plenty of food, sweets, and restaurants on the streets.

    Bear's Sugar Shack - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    ALFRED TEA ROOM ルミネエスト新宿 - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Kirin City - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    ダンシングクラブ東京 dancing crab - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Ginza Lion in Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    In large cities, there are drink vending machines everywhere.  The machines usually take coins, 1000 yen bill, and IC cards like Pasmo.  The newer machine like below has the digital display for the drinks and only takes IC cards.  Welcome to the future?

    Just One Cookbook children in front of digital drink vending machine - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    All digital beverage vending machine.

    When you walk in malls, department stores, shopping centers in Japan, the sweet options are endless.

    POGG ルミネエスト新宿店 sweet potato pie Lumine EST - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Bake Cheese Tart Lumine EST - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    Bake Cheese Tart.

    One of the more popular sweets recently is Bake Cheese Tart.  One of the branches is in Shinjuku inside the Lumine building.

    Just One Cookbook child in front of Bake Cheese Tart Lumine EST - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    They had the regular flavor and matcha green tea.

    Bake Cheese Tart Lumine EST - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Bake Cheese Tart Lumine EST - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Besides clothing, sweets, restaurants, and other retail stores, there is also the electronic mega stores Yodabashi Camera and Bic Camera if you need any accessories for your camera, laptop, etc.

    Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera in Shinjuku - - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    NEWoMan ニュウマン

    One of the newer shopping plaza in Shinjuku opened by Lumine is NEWoMan.  It’s located to the south of the Shinjuku Station, across the street in the same building as Busta Shinjuku (bus terminal).

    Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    crosswalk at Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Inside NEWoMan there are fine dining restaurants, chocolate specialty shops, and our friend Anthony’s 800 Degrees Pizzeria.

    Pierre Marcolini Haute Chocolaterie - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    La Maison Du Chocolat - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    La Maison Du Chocolat - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook child at Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    800 Degrees Pizzeria - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Janice Wong Dessert Bar - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Places to Visit Near Shinjuku

    Besides the stores in and around Shinjuku Station, there are a few spots nearby to grab dinners and drinks.

    Shinjuku at night - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Shinjuku at night - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Shinjuku at night - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Golden Gai 新宿ゴールデン街

    The first is Golden Gai (Golden Street) which has over 100 bars.  The bars are usually small and only fit 5-6 people.

    Just One Cookbook children at Golden Gai - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    sign for Shinjuku Golden Gai - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Bon's on Golden Gai - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Toho Cinemas TOHOシネマズ

    If you want to catch the latest movie, you can do so at Toho Cinema and say hi to life-size Godzilla on top of the theater.

    Godzilla statue at TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Just One Cookbook child in front of TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Kabukicho Ichibangai 歌舞伎町一番街

    For more drinks and entertainment, stop by Kabukicho Ichibagai.  There are restaurants, bars, theaters, and lots of nightime activities.

    Kabukicho Ichibangai - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Kabukicho Ichibangai - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    What to Eat in Shinjuku

    Just One Cookbook children at Zauo Shinjuku ざうお新宿店 - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Zauo ざうお – Fishing for Your Meal at Zauo Shinjuku

     

     

    Yakitori shop on Yakitori alley Memory Lane - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com

    Yakitori Alley 思い出横丁 – Head over to Yakitori Alley for sake, beer, and grilled skewers.

     

     

    Shinjuku Restaurants According to Tabelog Reviews (July 2018)

    Top 10 Overall from Tabelog

    1. ボニュ (French)
    2. 鳥茂 (grilled food)
    3. オステリア・オリエーラ (Italian)
    4. 鳥みつ (Yakitori)
    5. キュイジーヌ[s] ミッシェル・トロワグロ (French)
    6. ホルモン船 ホールちゃん (grilled food)
    7. ル サロン ジャック・ボリー (French)
    8. 東京肉しゃぶ家 (Shabu Shabu)
    9. (Sushi)
    10. ニューヨーク・グリル (American)
    Just One Cookbook children exhausted sitting on bench in Shinjuku Station - Shinjuku Travel Guide | justonecookbook.com
    After Day 1 in Shinjuku, children exhausted.

    We hope you enjoyed the Shinjuku Travel Guide, if there are any spots you love and we missed mention it in the comments below.  For more Japan travel guide click here and we’ll see you soon in part 2, Meiji Jingu (明治神宮).

    Check out other Tokyo travel guide series:

    1. Shinjuku 新宿
    2. Meiji Jingu 明治神宮
    3. Harajuku and Omotesando 原宿・表参道
    4. Shibuya 渋谷
    5. Roppongi 六本木ヒルズ
    6. Tokyo Tower (update) 東京タワー
    7. Ginza 銀座
    8. Imperial East Garden 皇居東御苑
    9. Akihabara 秋葉原
    10. Ueno 上野
    11. Kappabshi かっぱ橋道具街
    12. Tokyo Dome City 東京ドームシティー
    13. Asakusa (update) 浅草
    14. Tokyo Sky Tree (update) 東京スカイツリー
    15. Odaiba お台場

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