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101 things to do in Shinjuku

From cult art to decadent ramen, this is our guide to Tokyo’s sprawling entertainment centre

Choose from 101 things to do in Shinjuku

Trying to navigate your way through Shinjuku Station is hard enough, but when you finally find the right exit, figuring out how to make sure you don't miss out on any of Shinjuku's best shops, restaurants, bars and tourist sights is a challenge all on its own. You could live in Tokyo for years and still not discover everything it offers.

This is where we come in. Doing what we do best, we've scoured the area for the top hotspots and narrowed the list down to a healthy 101 things to do, including chilling in jazzy coffee shops, shopping in massive (and boutique) department stores, tasting the best sake, exploring rock bars, visiting popular shrines and getting the best views of the city. It should keep you busy for a while.

1

Get tranquil in Tokyo...

Recommended

For a spot of tranquility, step into Shinjuku Gyoen, possibly Tokyo’s most beautiful green space. The park is split into French, English and Japanese gardens, complete with teahouse for thirsty explorers. Shinjuku Gyoen

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
2

Get jazzed up...

Dug is one of the celebrated establishments from the 1960s heyday when Shinjuku was sprinkled with jazz coffee shops, so it's got serious credentials. A nearby basement bar is used for live performances. Dug

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Shinjuku
3

Try some Okinawan fare...

Pair your soba or set meal featuring bitter melon or rafute with a refreshing glass of Orion beer. Order your food by buying a meal ticket at the entrance. Yanbaru

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Shinjuku
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4

Have tea with cats...

Enjoy an elegant 'necone' scone, or filling lunch under the watchful eye of adorable pet cats Kaiser and Oujo – the shop's name means 'cat' in German – at this black tea specialist shop. Die Katze

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Shinjuku-Nichome
5

Snack on artisanal baguettes...

The Calpis Butter Baguette is so popular it sells out pretty much as soon as it hits shelves. But even if you miss out on this one, there are plenty of other delicious baguettes and creatives breads at this bakery. Pan-ya no Don Suke

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Higashi-Shinjuku
6

Combine style with electronics...

Reflecting its slogan, ‘Wonderful jumble’, this shop is a collaboration between consumer electronics retailer Bic Camera and fast-fashion outlet Uniqlo, selling products from both stores. Bicqlo

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Shinjuku
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8

Eat Beijing style...

Swallow's nest is just one of the unusual ingredients at this Beijing cuisine restaurant, founded in 1963. For appetisers, try the Pidan Tofu (prepared at your table) and the saucy Special Boiled Gyoza. Zuien Bekkan

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Shinjuku-Nichome
9

Enhance your home...

Decorating house or shopping for gifts? Start with the renowned Conran Shop, then get lost in the 30 different showrooms over six floors featuring furniture, fabrics, tableware, toys, accessories and imported foods. Living Design Centre Ozone

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Shinjuku
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10

Score a home-run...

Work out some frustration at a batting cage. One game of 28 balls is ¥300. Join the member system and get privileges such as the option to borrow professional-grade bats used by players such as Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Shinjuku Batting Centre

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Shinjuku
11

Get your (delicious) greens...

Broccoli and beans have never tasted this good. Get a nutrition boost during a long day of shopping with one of the 40 blends of naturally sweet vegetable juice on offer here – we recommend the 'Five-Vegetable Mix'. Piman

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Shinjuku-Nichome
12

Watch a midnight movie...

Recommended

This 'theatre that doesn't sleep' offers midnight showings and is equipped with digital movie projectors, enhancing the visuals and making this cinema the first of its kind in Japan. Shinjuku Wald9 Cinema

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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13

Keep it handmade...

A haven for haberdashery enthusiasts, Shinjuku’s Okadaya offers seven floors of buttons, threads and fabrics, alongside wigs, cosmetics and stage make-up. Okadaya

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Shinjuku
15

Savour the freshest soba...

Soba and relaxation are the keywords. Think gentle jazz in a refined space while home-made flour is churned out by the stone mill attached to an in-house water wheel. Masudaya

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Shinjuku
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16

Read in another language...

The best-known branch of this chain is on Shinjuku-dori, but the branch behind the nearby Takashimaya is bigger. Here you'll find perhaps Tokyo's largest selection of new books in French, German and English. Kinokuniya Bookstore

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Shinjuku
17

Bowl like no-one's watching...

If you thought ten-pin bowling was passé, check out this 24-hour bowling alley that's livened up the game with 'Fantasic Lanes' featuring sound and lighting. Night owls can take advantage of their late-night deal. Shinjuku Copa Bowl

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Shinjuku
18

Feel a little fabulous...

First-time visitors to Tokyo's famous gay district could do far worse than shimmying into this ooh-la-la joint run by celeb cross-dresser Bourbonne. The ‘gay mix’ policy means straight customers won't feel out of place. Campy! Bar

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Shinjuku-Nichome
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19

See a puppet show...

Tokyo's Puppet Theatre Puk (or La Pupa Klubo) has been going since 1929 and counts 80 puppeteers in its troupe, which performs in a charming theatre complete with miniature furniture and stage. Puk Pupa Teatro

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Shibuya
20

Try a manga-inspired treat...

Founded in 1948, Tokiya is a Japanese confectionery store known for its Dorayaki (bean jam cakes) said to be a replica of the Dorayaki featured in Fujiko F. Fujio's Doraemon manga series. Tokiya

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Shinjuku
21

Go decadent with ramen...

Tsukemen dipping noodles are a popular ramen variant, but you've probably never had them like this. Order the Sio DX version (¥990) and your noodles will come topped with fried chicken, ajitama egg, seaweed and lemon. 2-Chome Tsukemen Gachi

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Shinjuku-Nichome
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22

Have a stylish brunch...

Tokyo's belated brunch revolution was boosted by the 2012 opening of the first Japanese branch of Sarabeth’s, the New York chain that's been keeping Manhattanites well gorged on porridge, jam and pancakes since 1981. Sarabeth's

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Shinjuku
23

Share a futuristic tipple...

Push open the graffiti-covered door and enter a dazzling, futuristic bar with fanciful decor created by the many arty characters who've visited in the past. Settle in with a drink (¥800) and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. Nightingale

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Shinjuku
24

Gaze out over Tokyo, for free...

When you're looking to get up high but don't feel like paying for the privilege, just head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, home to two 45th-floor observation decks that are completely free. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories

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Shinjuku
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25

View some photo art...

Photographers Nobuhiko Ohno, Masato Seto, Hiroyasu Nakai and Daido Moriyama run this gallery, which showcases exhibitions by leading photographers and emerging artists. Place M

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Shinjuku-Nichome
26

Hang out like a hipster...

This roomy basement café imitates a New York hipster hangout, with open plan seating, brick walls, a library of art books, and a burger-and-pancake menu. The beer on tap, naturally, is Brooklyn Lager. Brooklyn Parlor

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
27

Shop for subculture...

Kaiho-ku (meaning 'liberated zone'), the department store known for innovation, has been reborn in the Isetan Honkan building with an unshackled mix of fashion and art that's set to be a new sanctuary of Japanese subculture. Tokyo Kaihoku Isetan Main Building

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Shinjuku
28

Grab a Miyazaki snack...

Experience the local cuisine of Miyazaki Prefecture at this showroom that combines a shop selling specialties, such as 'hiya-jiru' (cold soup), and a snack corner. It's cheap, tasty and fast. Shinjuku Miyazaki Kan Konne

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29

Spot the shrine among the skyscrapers...

Since being built in the Edo period, this shrine has seen many modern buildings spring up around it, making it a popular place for pause. Visit in November to take part in the annual 'Tori no Ichi (Otori-sai)' fairs. Hanazono Shrine

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Shinjuku
30

Pair shellfish with sake...

Speciality restaurant 'Hamaguri' in Shinjuku-Sanchome boasts a long list of shellfish dishes. The 'Baked Clam on Kelp' is packed with powerful ocean flavours and is well-suited to pairing with sake. Hamaguri

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
31

Listen to some comic storytelling...

There are only a few places in Tokyo to watch rakugo (comic storytelling), and this venerable Shinjuku theatre is one of them. First-timers should try the Saturday night performances, which cost just ¥500. Suehirotei

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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32

Choose natural beauty...

At this natural and organic cosmetic store inside Shinjuku's Isetan there are more than 100 brands including supplements, health foods, Chinese medicines and beauty products. Head to the spa corner for a pick-me-up treatment. Beauty Apothecary Isetan Main Building

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Shinjuku
33

Do some surreal late-night shopping...

Pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap gets taken to the extreme at the Shinjuku branch of Don Quijote. It's cluttered, disorganised and disorientating, but you’ll find everything from snacks to washing machines, 24 hours a day. Don Quijote

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Shinjuku
34

Act like an Italian...

Enjoy Venetian cuisine and wine at the standing bar ('banco'), where you can order grilled vegetables, marinated sardines and prosciutto for around ¥100 each. There's a lunch menu too and extra portions are free. Il Bacaro

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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35

Chat into the night...

Ideal for a late-night rendezvous, this café and restaurant is a popular LGBT hangout that gets points for its 18 different kinds of tea, Vietnamese coffee and homemade fruit cake that changes monthly. Cocolo Cafe

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Shinjuku-Nichome
37

Snack on 50 kinds of skewers...

Shinjuku’s Golden Gai area has plenty of bars but few places to eat, so this restaurant is a good find with its 50-plus different kinds of skewers starting at ¥100 each. Dongaragasshan

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Shinjuku
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38

Gaze at a range of art...

Recommended

The focus at this gallery is on modern and contemporary art, and in addition to exhibitions by international and Japanese artists, it hosts special features four times a year showing architecture, design, fashion and more. Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery

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Hatsudai
39

[CLOSED] Have fun with pizza...

[CLOSED] It’s like a playground for grown-ups at this creative cosmopolitan Italian restaurant featuring 45 different kinds of stone oven-baked Neapolitan pizzas. Doop Tokyo

40

Have a royal coffee...

Sip siphon coffee 24 hours a day at the ostentatiously decorated Coffee Kizoku (literally, 'aristocratic coffee') Edinburgh. The prices might make your eyes water (up to ¥3,000) but the pots are big – and there's free Wi-Fi. Edinburgh

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41

Be a cult art fan...

The gallery's uniquely curated Japanese art (do the terms 'treasure house', 'bondage' and 'ball-jointed dolls' catch your attention?) has already garnered a cult-like fanbase, even though it only opened in 2012. Shinjuku-za

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
42

Go underground for whisky and cocktails...

At the bottom of a long staircase lies this chandelier-lit bar that's been delighting patrons with its fresh fruit cocktails and whisky for 32 years. An abundance of Japanese, Western and Chinese dishes complement the spirits. Suntory Lounge Eagle

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Shinjuku
43

Pretend you're on a pilgrimage...

This historic shrine from the Muromachi era has its roots in the Kumano Sanzan, the set of three grand shrines famed as a destination on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes. Junisha Kumano Jinja

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Shinjuku
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44

Visit Barneys in Japan...

The name speaks for itself. Barneys New York is renowned for its original aesthetic sense and its high-end, quality clothing from around the world as well as dining ware, stationery and home furnishings. Barneys New York

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Shinjuku
45

Meet Ms Roboto...

Bikini-clad women battle it out using enormous female automatons at this glitzy, gaudy and utterly bonkers tourist attraction, a neon-decked wonderland with a ¥10 billion price tag. Robot Restaurant

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Shinjuku
46

Watch first-class jazz...

All chairs here face the stage, in reverence to the most respected jazz groups in town. The music is always first class, and a regular 2.30pm slot offers the stage to emerging bands. Shinjuku Pit Inn

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47

Chomp on giblet skewers...

A small roast giblet restaurant in a corner of the Omoide Yokocho (side street of memories) where fresh giblets are served as roasted skewers or sashimi. Popular choices include chire (spleen) and hatsu (heart). Motsu Yaki Utchan

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Shinjuku
48

Guess the song title...

Named after a famous ’70s song by Maki Asakawa, this dimly lit bar plays a variety of tunes, from idiosyncratic rock and jazz to pop, all chosen personally by the owner. Uramado

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Shinjuku
49

Grab a Chinese crab...

Open till 4am, this Shanghainese restaurant is loved for its Chinese mitten crab dishes. Reserve your spot the day before to ensure you get a seat, and book the private 12-seater table for special occasions. Shuei

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50

Sing karaoke with a live band...

Serving karaoke with a twist, the owners of this Kabukicho 'snack' bar accompany customers on electric guitar and saxophone. If you go really late you might find yourself drinking (and warbling) with staff from neighbouring bars. Studio Himawari

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Shinjuku
51

Shop for a bargain...

Look for the giant turtle painted on a flashy yellow building and you'll be on the doorstep of this 50-year-old store that sells everything from knickerbockers and jika-tabi (work shoes) to hot-pink helmets and Hello Kitty items. Mannen-ya

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Shinjuku
52

Enjoy latte art by a famous barista...

Australia's famous coffee prodigy Paul Bassett's only branch in Tokyo serves the best lattes we've found in Shinjuku. Cakes, including a seriously decadent banana tart, are a draw in themselves. Paul Bassett

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Shinjuku
53

Eat lamb like the Uyghurs...

A restaurant specialising in Uyghur cuisine is rare, even for Tokyo. The folksy interior and juicy lamb and noodle dishes will make you feel like you're on a trip through Central Asia. Uyghur Restaurant Silkroad Tarim

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Shinjuku
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54

Revel in a city park...

This city park gets a natural makeover each time the season changes and is made all the more special by its contrast with the surrounding skypscapers. Look out for regular events and festivals. Shinjuku Central Park

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Shinjuku
55

Add sporty to your style...

If you're an Atmos fan you'll love their concept store that's been designed with a street-gym theme, and crosses sports and casualwear, focusing on Nike footwear and apparel. Sports Lab by Atmos

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Shinjuku
56

Retreat to a retro cafe...

The retro sofas and antique furniture hark back to this café's '70s roots. Far removed from the bustle of Seikoku street, this coffee shop is the perfect place for passing the time with a cuppa and a comic. Cafe Arles

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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57

Go Victorian in a corset...

Relax on the antique-style sofa and enjoy the ambience of this corset shop while sipping on a cup of tea (or a whisky at night) and choosing from the pretty corsets, tights and accessories. Abilletage

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Shibuya
58

Dine on a rowdy rooftop...

You'll feel like a first-time backpacker at this warren of Asian restaurants that enjoys fleeting glimpses of the sky from the roof of an aging Kabukicho tower block and invariably involves a lively night of drinking. Shinjuku Asia Yokocho

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Shinjuku
59

Have cocktails with culturati...

With a history that goes back to 1951, this popular spot is frequented by prominent culturati. Try the Napolitan spaghetti and, if you can hold your liquor, their signature Donzoko cocktail. Donzoko

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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60

Taste wine from around Japan...

At this local wine bar and shop you can sample carefully selected wines from all over Japan, then choose from 20 different types of wine by the glass, starting at ¥500 each, and a selection of about 300 bottles. Jip Wine Bar

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Shinjuku-Nichome
61

Go clubbing...

The sound system is designed for large spaces, which means the thumping club beats at Oto will compel you to break out your best moves. Oto

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Shibuya
62

Fill up on traditional omu-rice...

Mix up local and Western fare at this restaurant that's been serving satisfying dishes like omu-rice (rice omelette), fried prawns and burgers since 1946. Bifteckya Azuma

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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63

Shop like a man...

Tokyo certainly matches women's fashion with men's and at this department store you'll find eight floors overflowing with clothing, accessories and home furnishings all dedicated to the gentlemen among us. Isetan Men's

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Shinjuku
64

Treat yourself to luxury takeout...

A great little pitstop, this delicatessen at Shinjuku Park Tower offers a takeout menu with dishes only available at Park Hyatt Tokyo, such as their popular Caesar salad and sandwiches made specially by the hotel's chef. Park Hyatt Tokyo Delicatessen

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Shinjuku
65

Have an arty meal...

This tiny three-storey restaurant with gallery attached attracts an eclectic mix of customers and serves upstairs customers through a hole in the floor, an operation that becomes increasingly perilous as the night progresses. Albatross

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Shinjuku
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66

Get hot 'n' spicy...

Spice fans will love dishes like the stir-fried lotus root with homemade dried meat and a prominent flavour of ma-la ('hot and numbing'), as well as the classic dandan noodles served with a merciless amount of Sichuan peppers. Senkoen

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Shinjuku
68

Fall in love with books again...

This warm and welcoming store offers all things book-related, including old and new novels, essay collections, photo books, magazines, bookshelves and a selection of gifts based on the concept 'a life with books'. Bibliophilic & Bookunion Shinjuku

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Shinjuku
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69

Drink some avocado...

The tasteful decor of this fresh juice shop recalls the classic 'parlours' of the Showa era. At ¥900-¥1,500 per juice, it's a little expensive, but worth it – an entire pack of strawberries goes into one strawberry juice (¥930). Maruce

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Shinjuku
70

Get a taste of Seoul in Tokyo...

Head north of Shinjuku and the streets take on a rather different flavour. Welcome to Shin-Okubo, Japan’s biggest Koreatown, and the go-to place for everything from K-Pop to kimchi. Shin-Okubo Koreatown

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Okubo
71

Shop endlessly...

Lumine 1 and Lumine 2 feature over 200 shops and restaurants, and thanks to frequent remodels and introduction of new stores, they always offer the newest and most popular brands. Shop till you drop at 10pm. Lumine Shinjuku

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72

Remember the joy of film cameras...

At this museum-like used camera store, most products are brought in by customers and if they aren't sold within two months, the price drops. You'll find new and vintage models, as well as 'junk' items sold for parts. Shinjuku Chuko Camera Ichiba

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Shinjuku
73

Party like it's 1966...

This gay bar and disco has been around since 1966 and still sticks mainly to a soundtrack of soul and disco. Though liveliest on weekends, it's open 365 days a year and the ¥1,000 entrance fee includes one drink. New Sazae

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Shinjuku-Nichome
74

Taste the best dumplings...

Oiwakedango has been making delicious dango (rice flour dumplings) since 1945, and will keep you coming back for more with its variety of flavours including soy glaze, seaweed, ginger, mugwort and yuzu. Oiwakedango Honpo

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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75

Let's get arty...

Specialising in art supplies, this store stocks paints, brushes, frames and more. The brand has 12 outlets but the Shinjuku flagship boasts the best selection – all reasonably priced too. Sekaido

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
76

Take a sake break...

Recommended

Find a quiet spot in the basement of the Shinjuku Isetan department store and sample Japanese sake while enjoying dishes from the restaurant Tokyo Kitcho. Kikizake Counter Isetan Main Building

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Shinjuku
77

Try some Russian fare...

Never tried borscht or piroshkis? Now's your chance to sample Russian cuisine at this long-established restaurant that serves a variety of dishes. Be sure to end off with some Russian tea and jam. Sungari

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Shinjuku
78

Make like Scarlett Johannsson...

Despite being Tokyo’s most decorated hotel, the Park Hyatt is perhaps now best known for its role in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. It’s small, intimate and has stunning views over the the city. Park Hyatt Tokyo

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Shinjuku
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79

View contemporary art...

Get your fill of contemporary art at this gallery exhibiting photographs, installations, video art and the like, then stop by the nearby calming Hanazono Shrine on your way home. Shinjuku Ganka Garou

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Shinjuku
80

Let the Showa go on...

For a little underground Showa-era atmosphere, step into this jazz bar, which has over 1,000 ‘beckoning cat’ statues to admire while you munch on pizza or Showa dry curry. JazzBar Samurai

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Shinjuku
81

Taste traditional tofu...

Veteran inarizushi shop Kanda Shinoda Sushi is based in Kanda-Awajicho, but now you can enjoy its unique old-fashioned inari in Shinjuku too. The crisp marinated lotus root enhances the salty-sweet fried tofu. Kanda Shinoda Sushi Isetan Main Building

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Shinjuku
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82

Experiment with bold flavours...

The speciality at this Nagi restaurant is pungent niboshi ramen, made by boiling dried sardines. For something different, the tsukemen (¥800) and shio (salt) ramen (¥800) offer alternative ways of enjoying this potent niboshi. Nagi Niboshi Ou

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Shinjuku
83

Find all you need in one place...

This variety store is so big you could spend a day browsing its seven floors of bags, travel accessories, cycling gear, health and beauty products, DIY tools and materials, and much much more. Tokyu Hands

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Shinjuku
84

Line up for French toast...

The signature French toast at this underground café is so popular that customers line up for it even on weekdays. The crustless bread is sliced thick and toasted in butter until golden and simply irresistible. Cafe Aaliya

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85

Warm up your tastebuds...

Try the specialities of Sichuan-style shabu-shabu and hot pot dishes, for ¥1,500 per plate, or warm yourself up with the hot and spicy Mala soup. Malatan

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Higashi-Shinjuku
86

Have a hearty budget-friendly meal...

The Tokyo Government Office employee cafeterias serve food so good (and cheap) that they’ve opened them up to the public. Enjoy ramen with a view on the 32nd floor of Building No. 1. Tokyo Government Employee Cafeteria

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Shinjuku
87

Chew on Horumon...

Kuunomu’s speciality Horumon-yaki (beef/pork offal) is a juicy, chewy dish usually served with tare dipping sauce, but be sure to try it just with salt too. Kuunomu

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Hatsudai
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88

Put your beret on...

With a glass of red from ¥390 and meals from ¥200, this is a top spot for authentic, reasonably priced French cuisine. Wear flats as it has standing room only. Provencale

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Shinjuku
89

Raise your hands in the air...

Hailing all partygoers, this gay bar in Shinjuku 2-chome regularly hosts fabulous parties and other events, with plenty of surprise celebrity performances thrown in. Aisotope Lounge

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Shinjuku-Nichome
90

Catch some cinema nouveau...

With a penchant for arthouse films, Cinema Qualite includes two snug auditoriums that are equipped to screen both digital and 35mm films, with punch Dolby DR-S sound compensating for the small space. Cinema Qualite

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Shinjuku
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91

Spin some vinyl...

If you've been thinking of joining the vinyl comeback brigade, look no further than Disk Union, which stocks floors and floors of second-hand CDs and records, among a plethora of other items too. Disk Union

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Shinjuku
92

Step back in time...

For a retro night out, visit this bar full of popular records and books from the ’80s and ’90s, and feel free to request your favourite oldie. Bar Plastic Model

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Shinjuku
93

Gather the girls...

A state-of-the-art sound system and artistic visuals create a stimulating atmosphere at this fresh (lesbian-friendly) location where you can get DJ lessons from the owner and cheap drinks thanks to the ticket vending system. Bar A-Un

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Shinjuku-Nichome
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94

Sip on onion tea...

It’s onions galore at this restaurant that uses the ingredient in everything from sauces and dressings to the Sasurai-ya Specialty Onion Tea that’s made by boiling dried onion skins. Tamanegihonpo Sasuraiya

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Nishi-Shinjuku
95

[CLOSED] Tuck into real gelato...

[CLOSED] At this Italian gelato shop’s first Japanese store you get the real deal with no artificial dyes or additives and only carefully selected fruits grown in Italy. Grom Shinjuku

96

Lunch with tots...

Update: Caro for Baby is currently closed until further notice. Specially designed for moms-on-the-go, this café is a relaxing lunch spot where you can nurse your baby, change diapers and bring along your own baby food. Caro for Baby

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Shinjuku-Sanchome
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97

Interact with a performer...

Loft/Plus One holds a variety of events including improv, discussions, video airings, slideshows, concerts and performing arts. If you're in the audience, prepare to participate! Loft/Plus One

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Shinjuku
98

Remember Mr Marley...

At this cool club Bob Marley and co are still top of the pops, with roots reggae and dub tunes as well as live performances taking you back to the good ol' days. Open

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Shinjuku-Nichome
99

Go back in time with tempura...

Who says good tempura has to be expensive? Surviving amid the gleaming modern buildings of Shinjuku, Tsunahachi’s battered wooden premises are a throwback to the early post-war era – as are the prices. Tsunahachi

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Shinjuku
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100

Share Italian appetisers...

One of the best-kept secrets of Shinjuku, this Italian restaurant stays open till 4am and prices are so reasonable you could eat and drink to your stomach's content for around ¥4,000. Prego Prego

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Shinjuku
101

Shop at a 'fashion museum'...

Recommended

Just this year, this long-standing clothing, food and homeware store was remodelled as a 'fashion museum'. Don't worry, you can still touch, and buy – and you won't be able to resist, such is the unprecedented array of items. Isetan

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Shinjuku

Head over to Harajuku

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