Tokyo Shinjuku and Shibuya guide

Shinjuku and Shibuya, two of the most famous and densely populated neighbours in Tokyo.
The first one is a large neighbour full of offices, shops and places for entertainment. The Shinjuku station is one of the most important junctions in the whole transport system: it is estimated more than 2 millions people travel by the three underground lines, the two private urban railways and the JR railways each day.

Here all the details

In the JR station of Shinjuku there’s a blackboard where people use to post notes and announces: it became famous enough to be mentioned in many movies and manga comics (City Hunter by Tsukasa Hojo).

The most futuristic cityscape in Tokyo can be admired from the exit of this station: on the West side the magnificent Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices – an impressive group of buildings made by Tange Kenzao -stands out among many skyscrapers.

On the East side many malls, restaurants, boutiques, neon lights, hostess’ and ambiguous strip-tease clubs, and parks too – like the Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the biggest in town – give a whole different impression of the town.

The second one is probably one of the most famous crossroads in the world, and it is known for its bright and young commercial life. The cityscape is characterized by huge screens put on every building, many different restaurants, shops and love hotels. The majority of the young and fashion Japanese people can be certainly found in Shibuya, making the neighbour look more colourful and very typical. During the weekends, it almost seems that only young under 25 people walk down those crowded streets.

Shibuya

Shibuya – photo credit © by /\ltus

Shinjuku Itineraries East

A quiet and modest temple can be found almost by chance among the skyscrapers in Shinjuku. The Hanazono-jinja (tel:3200-3093; getting there: Marunouchi line to Shinjuku-sanchome, exits B3 and B5) is very nice to be visited at night, because of the lights inside it, but it works perfectly as escape from the squalor of Kabukich?. On Sundays, the temple hosts a flea market (open 8am – 4pm), the easiest way to find antiquities and miscellanies.

Hanazono jinja

Hanazono-jinja – photo credit © by /\ltus

You may have a walk to “Shinjuku Gyoen” (tel.3350-0151;prices: adult ¥ 200, under 15 years ¥ 50, free for under 6; open: 9am – 4.30pm, Tuesday-Sunday; getting there: Marunouchi line to Shinjuku Gyoenmae, exit 1). You may also like a walk in direction South-East from the centre of Shinjuku: this zone belonged to the imperial estates before, as an agrarian research institute.
Shinjuku Gyoen is the huge park, showing an extraordinary variety of plants. If you are lucky enough to get there in the Hanami period, i.e. the cherry trees blooming, an impressive and unforgettable vision will meet your eyes. The western gardens are worth visiting too.

Shinjuku Itineraries West

If you like great heights you shouldn’t miss the skyscrapers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices (Tokyo Tocho; tel: 5321-1111; free entrance; open: 9.30am – 11pm, Tuesday-Sunday; getting there: Toei Oedo line to Tochomae, exit A4), the highest group of buildings in Tokyo. To find this huge building you’ll have to walk a few minutes from the West exit of Shinjuku. From the free viewpoint (202m high, from the 45th floor) you can see mount Fuji in winter. Certainly you’ll witness an extraordinary landscape from such great heights, since the complex symmetry of the buildings almost reminds a microchip. Taking photos is a must!

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices – photo credit © by ertaipt

The Shinjuku NS Building interiors are beautiful too (free entrance; open 11-12am, getting there: Toei Oedo line to Tochomae, exit A2). This isn’t the highest skyscraper in Tokyo, but its architecture is very peculiar and suggestive: in fact, the interior is a huge empty space enlightened by he sunlight through the glass ceiling. In the main hall there’s the biggest pendulum of the world, a Seiko 29m tall.

NSB Shinjuku

Shinjuku NS Building – photo credit © by kata49

Shibuya Itineraries

You can’t miss the statue of Hachiko, a dog whose story touched so much Japanese people to make a monument to remember it. About in 1920, Hidesamuroh Ueno – professor at the Tokyo university – had an Akita dog that used to go to the station with him everyday, waiting for his return every night. In 1925 the professor died because of an heart failure, but Hachiko kept on waiting at the station every evening for eleven years, until he died too. To celebrate his bondless loyalty to his master, Japanese people made a statue for him.

Hachiko

Hachiko – photo credit by nanoda.com

Two important museums in Shibuya are the Tobacco and Salt Museum (tel: 3476-2041; prices: adult ¥ 100, children ¥ 50; open: 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Sunday; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit) and the Tepco Electric Energy Museum (tel: 3477-1191; open: 10am-6pm, Thursday-Tuesday, getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit).

The first one displays interesting items to show how the production of tobacco and salt worked in Japan before the modern age, the second one offers a really big exhibition (seven floors) concerning every aspect of electricity.

Tepco Electric Energy Museum

Tepco Electric Energy Museum – photo credit © by ‘pijn

Having fun in Shinjuku

Here is where all the shopping malls Isetan are, a true appeal for the young and chic people from abroad and Japan itself. Many international brands are sold over the eight floors, that are considered like a launch spot in Japan for the new ones (getting there: Shinjuku Sanchome station, lines: Marunouchi or Shinjuku, Exits: B3-B5).

Shinjuku Neon lights

Shinjuku Neon lights – photo credit © by SBA73

And many other way of entertainment too, like clubs, restaurants and games rooms where Japanese people use to play Pachinko, the most popular game that works like an easier flipper.

In the neighbour called Kabukich?, the most famous red-light district in Tokyo, you can find many soaplands (i.e. massage centre), love hotels, peep shows, pink cabarets and strip-tease clubs, but it can be a simple walking place too; in fact, besides the entertainments concerning sex many “normal” clubs and shops can also be found, like cinemas and nice restaurants.

Kabukicho

Kabukicho – photo credit © by lefthandrotation

If you’d like something to drink, you may explore Golden Gai alleys. This is one of the most interesting places in whole Shinjuku, often shown in anime too, with many clubs put one next to the other to create a decadent atmosphere, somehow intellectual and peculiar ways of having fun for the most uninhibited tourists. If you’re lucky, you could even meet popular journalists, writers and directors.

Anime Girls Tokyo

Anime girls – photo credit © by colodio

Having fun in Shibuya

Anime and manga lovers can’t miss the Mandrake (tel: 3477-077; site: www.mandrake.co.jp; situated on B2 floor in the Shibuya Beam Bulding; open: 12am-8pm; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit). Here almost the whole collection of new manga comics can be found, and also some interesting shows with baby actors featuring anime characters.

Mandarake

Mandarake Anime and Manga Store – photo credit © by ikuda

Not much further, that is to say next to the Shibuya station of the Ginza and Hanzomon subways, there’s the homonymous district usually known as “sakariba“, the entertainment neighbour.

The best boutiques and shopping malls have been placed in the zone between the North-West exit of the station and the Yoyoji park: the Tokyu Department Store (2-24-1, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku – Site: www.tokyu-dept.co.jp), the Seibu with its fashion boutiques distributed over nine floors (the last one is dedicated to the restaurants) and Parco, a group of many buildings for shopping.

In this district you can’t miss the Shibuya 109 (getting there: Shibuya station, Hachiko’s exit). The 109 is a big shopping mall dedicated to fashion for girls mostly. It was opened in 1979, hosts about one hundred fashion and gadgets stores, and it’s always crowded since it is popular thanks to the medias and is situated very close to the Shibuya station.

Shibuya 109

Shibuya 109 – photo credit © by deus-ex-machina

Shibuya also offers many nocturnal attractions. The people of the night can find nice and alive clubs like the Womb disco (tel: 5459-0039; site: www.womb.co.jp; price: ¥ 1500-4000; open: 8pm-till late; getting there: JR Yamanote line, Hachiko’s exit), with House, Techno and Drum ‘n’ Bass music, and many other ones on the Dogenzaka, each one with its own style and full of life, like magic synergies. But be careful, don’t get lost in some love-hotel!

Other informations about Tokyo districts can be found in our Tokyo Guide.

Typical specialities in Shinjuku

This district offers many typical and tasteful Japanese dishes. One of the most popular, the ramen (often presented in anime and manga, and it is Naruto‘s favourite too!) is offered at the Keika Kumamoto Ramen (tel: 3354-4591; meal ¥ 800; getting there: Marunouchi and Toei Shinjuku lines to Shinjuko-sanchome, C4 exit), where the chashumen can also be eaten (ramen with roast pork, ¥ 830).

You may also like a nice Sukiyaki (main ingredients are thin meat slices, tofu, ito konnyaku, negi, Chinese cabbage and enoki mushrooms slowly boiled) or a tasty Shabu-shabu (very thin veal or pork slices boiled on the customer’s table in a soft broth, usually served with special sauces): look for these dishes at the Ibuki (tel: 3352-4787; sukiyaki dish ¥ 2205; shabu-shabu dish ¥ 2970; open 5am-11.30pm; info: English written menu; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku, East exit), you’ll find a comfy place with many foreigners.

Typical specialities in Shibuya

The majority of restaurants in Shibuya don’t offer typical Japanese menu, except for Kushinobo (tel: 3496-8978; location: 5th floor in the J&R Bldg; price: starting from ¥ 1000; open: lunch and dinner; info: English written menu; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit) where you’d like to taste the kushi-katsu (pork and onion fried skewers).

Hotels in Shinjuku

There are a lot of hotel in Shinjuku, from cheap ones to very luxurious ones. We have made a list of Sjinjuku hotels.

Green Plaza Shinjuku – capsule hotel
It isn’t comfy to sleep in a capsule with curtain dividers, but the price is very cheap. They’re available for men only, check in at 3rd floor starting from 3pm.
phone: 3207-4923; price: capsule ¥ 4300, about 40 USD;
getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku, East exit
www.hgpshinjuku.jp/hotel
Shinjuku Park Hotel average price
a comfy business hotel with bigger rooms than the average, and it is possible to choose a room with view on the green Shinjuku-gyoen. Check-in from 3pm.
tel: 3356-0241; prices: single room starting from ¥ 7900 about 64 EUR, double room starting from ¥ 13.800 about 140 USD, Japanese style room ¥ 24.800 about 250 USD;
getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku, new South exit
shinjukuparkhotel.co.jp
Hotel Sunlite Shinjuku prezzo medio
pulito e confortevole, si trova abbastanza vicino alle mete turistiche di Shinjuku(Shinjuku Goyen, quartiere Kabukicho, area commerciale). Check-in dalle 15.
tel: 3356-0391; prices: single room starting from ¥ 8715 about 70 EUR, double room (two beds) starting from ¥ 12.075 about 123 USD, double room starting from ¥ 14.175 about 144 USD;
getting there: Maranouchi line to Shinjuku-sanchome, C7 exit
www.sunlite.co.jp
Park Hyatt Tokyo – luxurious
it’s the most expensive hotel in Tokyo.
tel: 5322-1234; prices: rooms starting from ¥ 55.650 about 560 USD, suites starting from ¥ 68.250 about 690 USD; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shinjuku, South exit.
tokyo.park.hyatt.com

Hotels in Shibuya

Shibuya City Hotel
perfectly placed if you love nightlife, since it is close to the most important clubs and discos in Shibuya.
phone: 5489-1010; prices: single room ¥ 9.450, double room staring from ¥ 18.900;
getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit
www.shibuya-city-hotel.com
Shibuya Tobu Hotel
one of the best in its genre, it offers excellent services.
phone: 3476-0111; prices: single rooms ¥ 13.960, double room ¥ 17.294-25.610; getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, Hachiko’s exit
tobuhotel.co.jp
Shibuya Tokiu Inn
similar to the previous concerning quality, situated next to Meiji-dori.
phone: 3498-0189; prices: single rooms starting from ¥ 13.650, double rooms starting from ¥ 21.420, double rooms (two beds) starting from ¥ 21.840;
getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, East exit
www.tokyuhotels.co.jp/en/TI/TI_SHIBU
Cerulean Tower Tokyo Hotel – luxurious
with large beds and apartment-like rooms; if you love art, the hotel’s theatre and jazz club may please you.
tel: 3476-300; prices: single rooms starting from ¥ 28.875, double rooms starting from ¥ 40.425;
getting there: JR Yamanote line to Shibuya, South exit
www.ceruleantowerhotel.com

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