5 Things to Do on Your First Night in Shinjuku
Shinjuku, the biggest city in the west side of Tokyo, has so much to offer. As night falls, the area glows with neon from restaurants and taxi cabs whizzing by. With multiple train lines that run through the city far until midnight, there’s no wonder it’s packed with the most popular places to eat, drink, and dance to a couple of robots. This guide will show you the 5 most popular places to spend Shinjuku at night, preferably for first-time Shinjuku goers.
Take a stroll around Kabuki-Cho
First, start off with Kabuki-Cho. Easily accessible from JR Shinjuku Station, the so-called red light district has changed over the years. As the city has opened its arms for tourism, multiple hotels have recently opened, making the area feels very safe and bright even late at night.
After it gets dark, you can start off your Shinjuku night exploration by simply taking a stroll around the area just for fun. The city lights, blasting music, and the wide variety of people on the streets is enough to make you feel completely lost in translation.
There are also a number of decent restaurants in the area, so eat around if you are hungry. However, one should be wary of “catches”, or clip joint bars, where men in suits would persuade you to go to a bar, and later charge you an unreasonable price. Just like in any city, be sensible, careful, and you will have no problems.
Visit Godzilla Head
Godzilla Head is a new attraction located in the middle of Kabuki-Cho. The mighty creature overlooks Shinjuku city on the 8th floor of brand new Hotel Gracery. Weighing 80 tons, the almost life-size head of Godzilla is free to visit with a drink at the café bar on the 8th floor. The café bar offers various drinks, from sake to beers and soft drinks. They also have a specialty Godzilla Cake if you’re interested. The drinks average about 1000 yen. It’s an agreeable amount considering the spectacular view of Shinjuku plus the giant monster!
You can also go take Godzilla a visit during the daytime, but at nighttime is even better, as you can witness Godzilla’s eyes glow, mist come out of its mouth, and hear its iconic roar echo through the city. Some say the area has gotten “nicer” ever since the attraction was created. Well, nobody wants to be bad when Godzilla is looking!
Get Hypnotized in Robot Restaurant
Only in Shinjuku can you enjoy a magical place where music, girls and robots mix to create the most unforgettable show on earth! Robot Restaurant’s 90 minute electric show consists of an all-women dance group jamming together with androids to bright (and I mean bright) lights and blasting music.
Every night the place is packed with people from around the world. As up to 80 percent of the adventurous visitors are from outside Japan, it is highly recommended to book in advance. You can do so online from their English website.
Being a Robot “Restaurant”, the show comes with a bento meal and drink. However it’s cold and small, so don’t expect to get full here, and just enjoy the show. If possible, book an early show, and treat yourself to a good drink afterwards at Golden Gai.
Bar -Hop at Golden Gai
After you survived the madness that is Robot Restaurant, relax and enjoy some good drink and eats in Golden Gai, a small block packed with over 200 restaurants and bars located on the east side of Kabuki-Cho. Step into Golden Gai, take a look around, and you will find bistros, beer bars, casual restaurants and standing sushi places to suit all your late-night cravings.
One of the main reasons Golden Gai is popular for Japanese and tourists alike is its safe feeling. It’s not rare to encounter a female Japanese bar-hopping alone late at night here. Although the region has a long history, with some eateries open for more than 40 years, young generations have started opening new restaurants in recent years, making it easier for solo travelers and first-timers enjoy Golden Gai as well. Many bars and restaurants are tourist friendly and will offer you good sake if you ask. As most places are tiny, you will be jammed into a seat with an itty-bitty counter space. But chill out- close proximity will make it easier to talk to the bar master, and you may even be able to make friends with bar regulars.
Finish off the night with… What else? Ramen!
In Japan, you round off a good night’s drinking with a bowl of hot, hearty ramen. Ramen is to Japanese what pizza is to many Americans: quick, delicious, comfort food. The thought of sipping hot noodles and soup after a cold walk around town will melt anybody’s heart.
Shinjuku offers the best places for ramen- whether it be tonkotsu, soy sauce, sio, or miso, Shinjuku has it all. You will be able to find ramen shops open past midnight in abundance.
Ramen prices can vary from 500 yen to over 1000 yen a bowl, depending on the toppings and how the noodles are prepared. But don’t worry if you’re pretty hungry. Some places may offer a bowl of rice for free, and a second helping of noodles are usually around 200 yen, so chow down!
If you are lucky, you may find a ramen “yatai”, or a ramen stand, near JR Shinjuku station under the stairway to Odakyu department. It’s good, fast, and often cheaper compared to famous ramen restaurants.
So there you have it, a simple guide to spending a night in Shinjuku city. There’s nowhere else quite like Shinjuku, so it’s better to be prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!