Top 10 Things to Do in Shinjuku at Night
Updated: Feb 6
Looking for top things to do in Shinjuku at night? When it comes to nightlife in Tokyo, Shinjuku comes to mind first. Whether you are craving authentic Japanese food or looking to spend the night away drinking and laughing, Shinjuku has it all. There are hundreds of things to do in Shinjuku at night, but beware, you don’t really want to overwhelm yourself. Here are the 10 top things to do in Shinjuku at night:
1. Roam around JR Shinjuku Station
As one of the busiest train stations in the world transporting over 3.6 million passengers daily before the pandemic, Shinjuku Station has become a tourist attraction on its own. Now that international tourists are welcome again, foot traffic in and around the station begins to come back to normal. Shinjuku Station has 6 access points. The west exit leads to massive government buildings, while the east exit points to Tokyo’s entertainment and drinking areas. In the south and southwest exits, you will find the paths to the best shopping areas in Tokyo.
2. Drink sake at Omoide-Yokocho
Omoide Yokocho, which translates to ‘memory lane,’ is one of the most photographed places in Tokyo. It goes back to post-war Tokyo where street vendors and black market dealers flock to do business. Also known as ‘piss alley,’ you will find the best sake in Japan here sold in hole-in-the-wall bars. But of course, Omoide-Yokocho is not just for drinkers, it’s also a haven for food crawlers looking for authentic dishes. Going through the very narrow alleys of Omoide-Yokocho is a fun activity in itself.
3. Watch the neon lights in Kabuki-cho
Kabuki-cho boasts the biggest nightlife neighborhood in Tokyo where restaurants, bars, clubs, love hotels, and other NSFW attractions abound. Here you can find the massive Godzilla head statue at the top of the Toho Cinema which has become an icon. As you walk through the streets of Kabuki-cho, you are surrounded by massive neon lights and signages of these establishments, making it a feast for the eye. Walking around the neighborhood in the midst of these neon lights is a worthwhile activity in itself.
4. Drink with locals at Golden Gai
Golden Gai is one of the best things to do in Shinjuku at night. It’s a small area in Kabuki-cho with six narrow alleys, linked with even narrower alleyways in between, housing over 200 bars. Golden Gai is not as busy and flashy as the other parts of Kabuki-cho and Omoide-Yokocho, although it resembles the latter’s vibe—packed with small wooden buildings with over 200 bars. Golden Gai is pretty popular with locals, but foreign tourists are also welcome.
5. See Tokyo 662 feet above the ground
Tokyo’s capital building has observation rooms 662ft above the ground, overlooking the whole city that sparkles so bright at night. You can even see Mt. Fuji from here. You can visit there free of charge. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is located in Nishi Shinjuku, west of Shinjuku Station.
6. Celebrate pride at Nichome
Every month a pride month at Nichome—the biggest LGBTQIA area in Japan where hundreds of small gay-friendly bars and nightclubs are found. Nichome gives off a unique flamboyant vibe that you can’t find anywhere else in Japan. On Naka-dori, you will find bars serving beers and cocktails outdoors. And of course, drag shows are a huge crowd drawer among local and foreign tourists.
7. Chill at Nishi Shinjuku
Nishi Shinjuku is Shinjuku’s business that became a popular dating rendezvous, thanks to Japanese TV dramas. A lot of lover scenes between actors are shot here. Nishi Shinjuku is also home to Tokyo’s most popular public works of art, including Robert Indiana’s Love sculptures and Roy Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I and Tokyo Brushstroke II sculptures.
8. Visit Hanazono Shrine
Hanazono Shrine is Shinjuku’s signature Shinto shrine. It’s in November when the shrine really comes alive as the Tori no Ichi or “rooster market” takes place. Around this time you will find vendors selling elaborately-decorated rakes believed to attract more money. A flea market also happens at the shrine on most Sundays.
9. Shop at Donki
Donki, which is short for Don Quijote, is the largest discount store chain in the country. In Shinjuku, it has become a famous landmark. You can drop by to get pretty much anything under the sun, including basic necessities, souvenirs, designer goods, cosplay costumes, and more.
10. Play games at Tokyo Shooting Gallery
Located next to Golden Gai, Tokyo Shooting Gallery is an interesting amusement facility that takes you back to the Showa era (1926-1989). It looks pretty dated, but it’s a great place for those looking to spend the night with shooting games.
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