Must-See Places and Things to Do in Shinjuku

Shinjuku (新宿区 ), literally meaning “New Lodge,”  is a district in Japan’s capital and bustling metropolis, Tokyo. KCP is in Shinjuku, the business, entertainment, and shopping center of Tokyo, but it’s off to the side in a quiet neighborhood. So you get both the extreme excitement of Tokyo’s busiest spot and a serene corner near several parks, all in your daily commute.

Here are some of the must-see places in Shinjuku:

 

Omoide Yokocho

Yokocho means “alleyways to the side of the main street” in Japanese. It can also mean the shops, food stalls, and pubs found in these narrow streets. Yokocho lanes are found all over Japan’s cities, Omoide Yokocho or “Memory lane” is one of the favorite places to visit.

Omoide Yokocho. | inefekt69

The area dates back to post-war Tokyo in the 1940’s. It was the place to be for street vendors and black market traders. Omoide Yokocho developed into a favorite spot to relax and have a drink,  which resulted in more permanent structures being built. The structures lasted until 1999, when a fire destroyed the area and the place had to be rebuilt. It’s a wonderful place to soak up the traditional Japanese way of life and an experience that truly takes you down Japan’s history along memory lane.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

When Edo Castle underwent a major expansion in 1634, many temples and shrines were relocated to the western part of Shinjuku.

KCP Flickr

In 1698, one of Japan’s major highways during that time was built in the town of Naitō-Shinjuku district.  In 1920, Naitō-Shinjuku and parts of Kabukichō and Nishi-Shinjuku became present-day Tokyo. Naitō was the daimyo of the Naitō-Shinjuku area, whose mansion once stood in what is now the public park Shinjuku Gyoen.

Hanazono Shrine

The Hanazono Shrine (花園神社 Hanazono Jinja) is a Shinto shrine founded in the mid-17th century. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the androgynous god of fertility and worldly success.  Though simple and unassuming, the Hanazono Shrine is one of the most historical shrines of Japan. It was constructed by the prominent Hanazono family and during Tokugawa Ieyasu’s Edo Period, Hanazono Shrine held the important position of protector of the district.

 

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁, Tōkyō Tochō), is a favorite spot for many visitors of Tokyo, Shinjuku in particular.

The 243 meter tall government building has two towers open to the public as an observatory. It used to be the tallest building in Tokyo until the Midtown Tower in 2007. Famous Japanese landmarks  of Japan such as the Tokyo Dome, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and Meiji Shrine can be seen from the observation decks.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. | Kyle