Shinjuku Gyoen and NTT Docomo Tower | Time Out Tokyo
Choose from 101 things to do in Shinjuku

101 things to do in Shinjuku

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

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
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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.

Gaze out over Tokyo, for free
  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • Shinjuku

When you're looking to get up high but don't feel like paying for the privilege, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's two free 45th-floor observation decks, which provide beautiful sunset views and the chance to spot Mt Fuji. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • Shinjuku

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. Dug

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

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

  • Things to do
  • Shinjuku

Found beneath the elevated highway outside of Shinjuku Station's southeast exit, artsy Sanagi opened in early December 2016. It somehow manages to combine a food court-like area with a gallery and a lounge, all kitted with very Insta-worthy décor. Sanagi Shinjuku

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  • Shopping
  • Higashi-Shinjuku

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 creative breads at this bakery. Pan-ya no Don Suke

  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Shinjuku

The Beams Japan flagship in Shinjuku was re-opened in bigger and better form in April 2016 and now encompasses a total of six floors. You'll find a dizzying collection of Japan-made clothing, crafts and art, plus a gallery, restaurant and coffee shop. Beams Japan

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  • Restaurants
  • Shinjuku-Nichome
  • price 2 of 4

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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  • Hotels
  • Higashi-Shinjuku

One of the most stylish and convenient of Kabukicho's many love hotels, rooms at Atlas are spacious, clean, reasonably priced and equipped with all kinds of extras. Unlike most of its competitors, this one doesn't impose limits on guest combinations, meaning that same-sex couples are just as welcome as heterosexual ones. Hotel Atlas

  • Shopping
  • Fashion
  • Higashi-Shinjuku

Just getting here is a minor crash course in Kabukicho: you'll have to walk through the arches leading to a love hotel to actually find the entrance to select fashion shop The Four-Eyed, which deals in funky domestic and international brands. The Four-Eyed

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  • Restaurants
  • Juice bars
  • Shinjuku-Nichome
  • price 1 of 4

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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  • Cinemas
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

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

  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku

This textile and crafts shop is a haven for haberdashery enthusiasts, offering buttons, threads and fabrics. It also stocks wigs, cosmetics and stage make-up, attracting plenty of tourists who come to buy quality cosplay outfits. Okadaya

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Try the smoothest noodles
  • Restaurants
  • Yoyogi
  • price 1 of 4

This little udon shop, with six seats at the counter and just two tables, serves freshly made noodles that go down nice and smooth, plus great side dishes like tempura and deep-fried tofu. Shin

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 1 of 4

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

  • Sport and fitness
  • Shinjuku

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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Combine your reds
  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 2 of 4

The combo of perfectly aged meat and wine will hack your brain. At least that's what they claim, but B&C's 'Assorted Grilled Meat' really does merit consideration. The long opening hours make it a great after-work joint. Bread and Circus

  • Theatre
  • Performing arts space
  • Shibuya

Tokyo's Puppet Theatre Puk has been going since 1929 (check out the wall relief for the story of their long history) and its troupe performs to an audience of all ages in a charming 1971 theatre complete with miniature furniture and stage. Puk Pupa Teatro

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  • Restaurants
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

Tokyo takes fresh seafood to the next level at Zauo, the restaurant chain where you can catch your own dinner. At the Shinjuku branch you're greeted by a giant, boat-shaped seating area, and surrounding that is a moat teeming with all kinds of fish (and one mean-looking shark – mind your fingers!). Zauo

  • Bars and pubs
  • Shinjuku

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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  • Hotels
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

The main bonus about this hotel is that the rooms come equipped with cooking facilities, but we also love that it's close to Shinjuku Station; you can choose between 'simple' and 'renovated' rooms; and there's an antiques store with Japanese vintage clothing and furniture on the premises. Apartment Hotel Shinjuku

  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 1 of 4

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

  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Shinjuku

Since being built in the Edo period, this shrine has served as the 'landlord spirit' of Shinjuku. Its Tori no Ichi (Day of the Rooster) fair draws six million visitors – pop by and pick up a 'Daruma mikuji', a fortune-telling wooden doll. Hanazono Jinja

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  • LGBTQ+
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

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

Listen to some comic storytelling
  • Theatre
  • Performing arts space
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

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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  • Shopping
  • Grocery stores
  • Shin-Okubo

Stocking an impressive range of fresh Thai herbs and vegetables, this shop has everything you need for a fancy Southeast Asian feast. You can also pick up dried and canned staples such as jasmine rice, dried noodles and juice, or invest in Thai-style kitchenware and bath products. Asia Super Store

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Read in another language
  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Shinjuku

Kinokuniya's other Shinjuku outpost is still one of the best bookstores in Tokyo for foreign-language publications. Head to the sixth floor (the other floors now house a Nitori) for books, magazines and more in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and many other languages. Books Kinokuniya Tokyo

  • LGBTQ+
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

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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  • Bars and pubs
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

Those partial to sake can’t go wrong at this shrine to rice wine, located right next to an actual shrine (Hanazono). The owner knows his stuff and has a great selection of snacks too. Open from 3pm on weekdays and from noon on weekends. Moto

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  • Nightlife
  • Cabaret and burlesque
  • Shinjuku

A pioneer in the transsexual show pub biz, this bar has been entertaining audiences with its drag-queen shows for 40 years. There are two shows daily (at 7.30pm and 10pm). Great for (after-)dinner fun. Black Swan Lake

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

The search for true coffee excellence is pursued with surprising vigour at this pricey but popular Shinjuku basement. The cheapest choice from the menu will set you back a cool ¥1,000, but at least the cups will be bone china. Bon

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 3 of 4

This Shinjuku hotbed of chicken hotpot has been in business since 1928. While the focus is on mizutaki, a simple and traditional dish of chicken boiled in water for several hours, there’s plenty of evidence of the chefs’ flair and imagination in the dessert options. Mizutaki Genkai

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Take a day trip to Turkey
  • Restaurants
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

For real Turkish cuisine in an equally authentic environment, Hasan is your stop. Veg aficionados will love the appetiser plate with its hummus and other healthy pastes, best enjoyed with freshly baked bread. Bosphorus Hasan

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  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku

An offshoot of the nationwide Tansuya chain, Tokyo135's Alta branch attracts a diverse crowd looking for slightly funkier kimono for all occasions. Their style is decidedly more pop art-y and modern than traditional, and they also sell a large selection of vibrant accessories. Tokyo135° Shinjuku Alta

Meet Ms Roboto
  • Restaurants
  • Shinjuku

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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  • Bars and pubs
  • Shinjuku

More than 270 tiny drinking dens are crammed into seven ramshackle streets here. Each place has a unique vibe – ranging from high-end cocktails to hard rock – and the atmosphere can be anywhere from friendly to downright hostile. Shinjuku Golden Gai

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

Located in a dinky Kabukicho alleyway – you basically have to walk through the outdoor kitchen to enter – Xiaochi serves up a wide variety of delectable Shanghainese dishes, as well as some more unorthodox offerings. Go for the clams in vinegar, served with deep-fried bread. Shanghai Xiaochi 

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  • Nightlife
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

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

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Shinjuku

Shinjuku's premier coffee specialist draws you in with the aromatic beans (both roasted and fresh) sold at the entrance, while the shop interior is littered with countless coffee-related contraptions – from hand-driven coffee grinders to espresso machines and roasters. Yamamoto Coffee

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 1 of 4

The signature French toast at this underground café is so popular that customers queue 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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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Shinjuku

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

Taste wine from around Japan
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Shinjuku-Nichome
  • price 1 of 4

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

Found near the entrance to Omoide Yokocho ('memory lane') on the Seibu station side, this counter-only Chinese eatery serves cheap food and drinks from early morning to late at night. Try the egg-and-mushroom stir fry. Gifuya

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

Imagine a curry of spare ribs, beef and shrimp, simmered for hours till it's as tender as can be, and then topped with juicy red tomatoes. This long-standing Indian restaurant sells this satisfying dish as its 'Mixed Curry' for just ¥1,400. Dig in. Gandhi

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  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku

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

Indulge in a medicinal tipple
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

Hiroyasu Kayama opened BenFiddich in 2013 after working for years as the head bartender at Nishi-Azabu mixology bar Amber. Try one of the apothecary-style cocktails based on traditional elixirs and herbal liquors, often using ingredients – anise, fennel, wormwood – grown on his family’s plot. Bar Benfiddich

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

This tiny three-storey bar 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

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 2 of 4

Perched on the outskirts of Kabukicho, this café offers as many as 20 varieties of coffee, including high-end brews such as ‘Hawaii Kona’ (¥1,380) and ‘Royal Blend’ (a snip at ¥3,000). Servings are generous, while they also have free wi-fi. Edinburgh

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Shinjuku

Having been in business since the end of the war, Minatoya stocks an exquisite and varied range of domestic and international liquors. Head to the whisky-centric basement bar afterwards for a few; if you find something you fancy, go back up to buy a bottle. Minatoya & Harry's New York

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  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku

Lumine 1 and Lumine 2, as well as Lumine Est on the east side of the station, together 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 until 10pm. Lumine Shinjuku

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  • Shopping
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Shinjuku

Japan has a way with confection, no doubt. Try the bell-shaped, azuki bean-filled 'Suzu no Monaka', presented in a pretty woven basket and sold at this basement-floor food store at Shinjuku Isetan. All their sweet recipes still follow the original ones from 70 years ago. Suzukake

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  • Restaurants
  • Eclectic
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

This yoshoku restaurant has been in business since 1963 and specialises in very homey cabbage rolls – the recipe hasn't really changed in over half a century. Have some as part of a set meal, order a draft beer and pretend you've slipped back to the ’60s. Shinjuku Acacia

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

Head up to the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo and marvel at the west Shinjuku cityscape. If you're there between 5pm and 9pm, take advantage of the 'Peak of Joy' or 'Twilight Time' options where you pay a set fee for nibbles and unlimited drinks. For a daytime option, try the delicatessen shop on the ground floor. The Peak Bar; Park Hyatt Delicatessen

Try some Russian fare
  • Restaurants
  • Russian
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

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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  • Art
  • Shinjuku

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 Ophthalmologist Gallery

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Get your mani and drink
  • Nightlife
  • Late-night bars
  • Shinjuku

Where but Kabukicho could you expect to find a late-night, multi-floor complex that combines a café/bar, nightclub and hair salon? Be-Wave also boasts a nail and beauty salon, though you'll have to turn up during the daytime to take advantage of that. Be-Wave

Experiment with bold flavours
  • Restaurants
  • Ramen
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

The speciality at this restaurant is pungent niboshi ramen (¥820), made by boiling dried sardines. For something different, the tsukemen (¥870) offers an alternative way of enjoying this potent concoction. Sugoi Niboshi Ramen Nagi Shinjuku Golden Gai

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome
  • price 1 of 4

In between all the meat-and-fried foods restaurants there's this calm and lovely veggie/vegan spot. Most popular on the menu are the 'Heavenly Vegan Pancakes' which, as their name suggests, are simply not of this world. Ain Soph. Journey

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

Longing for some good ol' Super Nintendo action? This Shinjuku café is heaven for every '80s video game fan. Besides the classic consoles, it serves drinks like 'Princess Peach's Temptation' and 'Dr Mario'. 8bit Cafe

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

Tokyo’s only shop dedicated to LGBT literature, Okamalt is run by Japanese gay culture pioneer To Ogura, a writer and magazine editor who is known as Margarette in drag queen circles. 500-600 titles from his collection of 10,000 publications can be freely browsed at the café. Okamalt

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  • Shopping
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

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 Shinjuku

  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

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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  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Shinjuku

Specialising in 'Showa Kayo' (old Japanese pop music), this store offers a unique introduction to the charms of this genre, which continues to delight today. It also has a good stock of rare secondhand vinyl, CDs and greatest-hits compilations. Disk Union Showa Kayo-Kan

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shinjuku

The humble lemon sour (the Japanese kind, not the cocktail base) isn't the kind of drink one would think merits a specialist bar – yet that is exactly what The Open Book is. Pick up a tome from the massive bookcase and sip away. The Open Book

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Savour Korean duck
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Shin-Okubo

Not many people know about this Korean restaurant in Shin-Okubo that serves home-made dishes including the fragrant, salt-grilled aigamo (duck) served on a sizzling iron plate surrounded by pickled daikon radish. Samsoon

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  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Shinjuku

Inspired by the popular Thermae Romae series of manga and movies, Thermae-Yu features hot spring baths and rotenburo – supplied with onsen water from Izu daily – stone saunas, a full-on beauty salon, scrub treatments and a lounge complete with a café, bar and restaurant, all open 22 hours every day. Thermae-Yu

  • Restaurants
  • Shinjuku

Dive in under the tracks on the west side of the station and you'll find this charming assembly of tiny pubs and eateries, tightly stacked together just as they have been since the early post-war years. Find one you like and kick off the night. Omoide Yokocho

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  • LGBTQ+
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

This gay bar/disco in Nichome has been around since 1966, and it still sticks mainly to a soundtrack of soul and disco from the '70s and '80s. The diverse crowd is presided over by Shion, the flamboyant gent who's worked here for over 35 years now. New Sazae

  • Clubs
  • Shinjuku-Nichome

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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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Shinjuku
  • price 2 of 4

This popular LA pizza joint lets you chose your own toppings before baking your pie to order. The range of topping choices feels a little overwhelming, so first-timers might just want to play it safe with mozzarella and bacon jam. 800° Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria

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Get tranquil in Tokyo
  • Things to do
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

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, and different flowers bloom during each season. Bringing alcohol into the park and drinking it there is prohibited. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Escape to an alternate reality
  • Things to do
  • Shinjuku

Opened in July 2017, this playground for adults is where to experience the latest in virtual reality technology. Formerly housed in Odaiba, VR Zone invites you to pull on a head-mounted display and take part in numerous fun games and activities visualised in 360-degree VR. VR Zone Shinjuku

Head over to Harajuku

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