Shinjuku is a pretty interesting place to visit. If you’ve never been to Shinjuku before you will soon find out what I mean by interesting. There are so many different sides of Shinjuku that you will see when you walk around.
As you exit the Shinjuku station you’ll see the side of Shinjuku that is pretty with all the shopping and places to eat. There is a big Lumine department store, a Odakyu department store, a Keio department store located right in the station. Apart from that you’ll see that there are lots of restaurants and nice cafes that you can go to.
(picture source: https://www.pinterest.jp/pin/497084877616394858/)
But once you venture a little bit further out you’ll see that famous Kabukicho red light district. During the day, it isn’t as busy and you’ll find that there are a lot more people in the commercial and municipal centre of Shinjuku. At night, Kabukicho becomes lit up with all the neon lights and it becomes the sleepless town. It is said that it wasn’t until the reconstruction after World War II that Kabukicho gradually became today’s “sleepless town”. The name Kabukicho was first used in 1948 after attempts to bring a Kabuki theatre into this new entertainment area of postwar Tokyo.
(picture source: B Lucava <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/132839688@N08/18958727571″>Kabukicho in the rain</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>)
The theatre was unfortunately never built because of financial problems but the name stuck. And eventually it transformed into an area where bars, nightclubs. love hotels hostess clubs, massage parlors and more were built. And therefore became known as the red light district. For many years, Kabukicho had a bad image and was avoided by even locals. But with tourism on the rise more and more tourists can now be seen at Kabukicho.
(picture source: http://www.afpbb.com/articles/-/3044993?pid=15610111)
Especially with the newest landmark, the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, it has boosted the area as a good image. Slowly Kabukicho is being reformed with new hotels and entertainment being built. With this Kabukicho is slowly starting to have a much better image that it used to have. I remember years ago, it felt almost unsafe walking through the streets of Kabukicho and in Japan there are not many, if any, places that feel unsafe. But there was something about Kabukicho that made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable. But now with all the changes being made it no longer feels unsafe.
(picture source: B Lucava <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/132839688@N08/17970176746″>KABUKICHO</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>)
The first landmark that you will come across in Kabukicho is the red gate. At night it turns into a red lit up gate that marks the entrance of the Kabukicho area. Here you’ll find a bunch of different bars, nightclubs, and more. You’ll definitely see a bunch of inappropriate things as well but it is interesting to see it.
There are a few other things other than the new Hotel Gracery and cinemas that have attracted a lot of tourists in this area. Over the last few years, the robot restaurant has attracted numerous tourists for their extremely popular robot entertainment performance. The other place that has gained attention is the Golden gai. Golden gai is truly a fascinating place to visit. It is a small area packed with a bunch of bars and restaurants and you’ll see that each bar or restaurant is so small that it can often only fit a few people. And if this bar or restaurant is located on the second floor you’ll find that there are extremely steep stairways that you have to walk up to get there. It is all so fascinating to see so I definitely recommend going to the golden gai area.
The other location that is just as cool and very similar to the golden gai is the omoide yokocho. The omoide yokocho has a similar vibe to the golden gai except it is a smaller area and there are more places to eat than bars. The omoide yokocho and golden gai are not too far apart from each other so you will definitely have the time to check out both places.
If you are interested in renting a pocket wifi or prepaid SIM card during your trip to Japan then make sure to check out the Genki Mobile website: https://www.genkimobile.com/