Nobody offers a Shinjuku walking tour for good reason. Shinjuku is the capital of the capital. It’s a mess of neighborhoods that have nothing to do with each other. It’s CHAOS.
Shinjuku Walking Tour
City of skyscrapers. City of green.
Seat of government. Seat of culture.
World of dreams. World of chaos.
|heritage tourism, history tourism; architecture tourism; pop-culture tourism; shopping; culinary tourism; urban tourism|
Shinjuku began as small post town for travelers build on a single street, but today its the capital of Tokyo Metropolis. Most people think of it as a sprawling skyscraper district, but to me, Shinjuku is much more. It’s full of stories, both ancient and modern.
I rarely get requests to spend a day in Shinjuku, but over the years I’ve had tons of clients staying in this area. Interestingly, I always find myself bringing people through Shinjuku for dinner or a bird’s eye view of the city from a skyscraper. Sometimes people are looking for very specific records or fashion that can only be found here. That said, a slow and methodical Shinjuku walking tour can uncover lots of secret spots that other guides either don’t know about.
From humble begins to megacity. Shinjuku is so crazy – so vast – a competent guide has to understand the nuances of a hundred neighborhoods. So here’s my take on it.Tweet
Japan’s pre-eminent red light district. A sea of neon, restaurants, and bars. Though famous for its nightlife, this area is home of Godzilla Street and is one of Japan’s most famous photo spots!
- Shinjuku Gyoen
This splendid Japanese garden is built on the remains of a feudal lord’s palace. It changes all year round, but is especially beautiful in spring and autumn. Some sections of the original Edo Period (1600-1868) garden are still intact. This makes it special among Tokyo’s many contemplative gardens.
- Hanazono Shrine
Formerly a local shrine dedicated to rice production, this shrine first appeared in the historic record in the 1590’s, but no one knows who built it or when. It’s associated with feudal lord’s gardens that became Shinjuku Gyoen.
- Kusama Yayoi Museum
This new museum features over 600 of the artists works, including an entire floor dedicated to a single installation. Daily admission is limited, so I have book this in advance.
- Samurai Museum
In the heart of Kabukicho, this private museum gives you a crash course in samurai culture. It features real armor, weapons, and demonstrations. You can dress up in armor and kimono too!
- Korea Town
Originally, home of the shogun’s ninjas and musketeers, then just a neighborhood of ethnic Koreans, now Shin-Okubo is Japan’s most awesomest Korea town.
Funerary temple of the Naito clan, lords of Takato Domain. It’s home to the Baby Eating Enma statue and hosts a small museum of cool things excavated from the graveyard after the temple was destroyed in the 1945 Tokyo Firebombing.
One of many nagekomi-dera (throw away temple) where Edo Period courtesans (sex workers) were buried in mass graves.
- Record Shopping
In Shinjuku Nishiguchi, there are a few record stores specializing in Reggae/Dub, Punk, and Visual Kei.
- Maid Café
If you’re in Japan, you must go at least once. It’s the wackiest, Only-in-Japan™ experience you can ever imagine. I know a spot in Shinjuku proper, or we can hop over to otaku-mecca Nakano for another place.
- Takano Fruits Parlor
All-you-can-eat high end fruit. This is pure food hedonism that you don’t have to feel guilty about.
- Omoide Yokocho
Translated as “Memory Lane,” this tiny alley is a remnant of Tokyo’s postwar era. It’s a nice place to have a beer or pre-dinner snack. Photographers will definitely want to give it at least a walk through.
Translated as Golden Town, this is a grimy collection of postwar era bars that was formerly a licensed pleasure quarters until the Occupation shut it down. Now it’s one of a handful of such disappearing neighborhoods.
- Oiwake Dango
In the Edo Period (1600-1868), this was a post-town. Travelers would grab one of these traditional sweets as a snack for the road. People returning would by packages as souvenirs for friends and family.
- The Robot Restaurant
I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Tickets must be purchased in advance, so please let me know if you’re interested!
- Nakano Broadway & Nakano Sun Mall
This shopping area and its associated alleyways is a great blend of old Tokyo and modern suburb. It’s most famous for being the original epicenter of Japan’s otaku culture – before Akihabara!
If there’s no time for Nakano Broadway, we can always check out this shop specializing in manga, anime, and related goods.
- Geek Out on Haunted Spots
Fans of the original JapanThis! website may be interested in visiting sights relating to the dark story of Suzuki Kuro and the haunted bridge of Yodobashi.
Starts at ¥55,000
(covers up to 5 people!)
You Might Also Like
- If this scarred you for life, see my blog 10 Things to do with Kids in Tokyo!
- My Shibuya Walking Tour is still crazy, but not as wild as Shinjuku lololol
- Looking for something more cultural? Check out my Crash Course in Japanese History.
- Love design? How about my Tokyo Architecture & Design Tour?
Here’s a secret. All my tours are customized in one way or another. If you need a private tour or someone to make things smoother, or if you’re gathering contents and shooting video and need a fixer, I’m sure I can help out and get you sorted.