10 Things to do in Shinjuku Tokyo: Neon Paradise on A Budget

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Shinjuku is a very famous neighborhood in Tokyo, offering everything one can imagine (think game shops to host/hostess bars) in a single district.  It is one of my favorite spots when I don't have a plan - everything you love about Japan is within a fifteen minute walk.  There's more to see in Shinjuku than could ever be put into one list, but the one we have here will give you a great overview of the quarter and all it has to offer, sticking to a tight budget.


1.  Grab a classic porridge breakfast

Porridge is a staple gruel, one that fulfills any size stomach, and at Kayu San Chin Shinjuku you can fill up for a day of sightseeing for less than 400Y.  With many offerings available both on menu and on the table, you'll surely get something to your liking.     Price: about $4

Photo courtesy of Kakidai

Photo courtesy of Kakidai


2. Walk around a stunning park

While Tokyo is filled with incredibly manicured parks, Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden is by far my favorite in the city.  Filled with 20,000 trees, a lake, and many Edo period buildings in the heart of Shinjuku, you feel transported when you walk through the entrance.  Unlike most other parks in Tokyo, this one requires an entrance fee, but it's well worth the change.    Price: about $2

3.  Visit a sex shop, day or night

Shinjuku is scattered with sex shops, each offering something a little different, and certainly all offering something different than what you see at home.  Wander through one, or, if you're feeling frisky, visit one of the small, overtly dressed outlets along the streets and get yourself an underground guide to Shinjuku.   Price: 0-a million

4.  Grab some Okonomiyaki and get a free improv show

Okonomiyaki is a staple food in Japan, essentially a Japanese omelette, that can be filled with whatever you want.  It is a must try in Japan, and this spot hosts daily improv shows.  They're even happy to get foreigners involved... even if yu only understand a couple words!    Price:  $15 (one person with drink, appetizer, and main)

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5.  Visit a games hall

While games halls certainly are not singular to Shinjuku, the streets here are packed with one to every corner, and it is a place to go out on the weekends.  Most halls offer 7 or 8 floors, each filled with a different kind of game, and each more overwhelming than the last.  I get overwhelmed after more than 20 minutes in one of these, but they are so fun and bright, you might be convinced to stay.    Price: 0-$50 for a whole night

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6.  Take a photo in a ladies only photo hall (if you can)

Photo booths are incredibly popular in Tokyo, they usually dominate at least one floor of the above mentioned games halls, and people will spend hours in these booths alone or with their friends.  All booths offer digital stickers, frames, and facial/ body editing, but...ladies only halls... are another animal.  Jam packed with all things cute and pink, featuring a makeup room, higher end studios for rent, and cut out boyfriends, you have to see this place.     Price: 0-$50

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7.  Go to Korea (well, kind of)

There's a Koreatown in the northern part of Shinjuku that almost feels like the real thing.  Head there around dinner time to grab a bite, buy some luscious Korean beauty products, and fan (literally) over countless K-pop stars.   Price: around $15 for standard meal with cocktail, products vary widely

8.  Try your luck in Golden Gai

We've already dedicated a whole post to the wonders of Golden Gai, but it's worth a mention here, too.  Wander through the tiny streets that used to house brothels and find your drink deal... You never know what you'll run into.   Price: about $8 for a standard cocktail

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9.  Go out... All out

Any nightlife you're craving can be found in Shinjuku.  From strip clubs, to the only openly gay bars in Tokyo, to host clubs and more, find your heaven here.     Price: about $70 for club entrance + 2 drinks at most clubs/shows

10.  Destress at an all-hours sento

Sentos are the indoor form of onsens, in other words, they are bath houses that don't use natural spring water.  Somehow, they are still almost as relaxing.  Shinjuku is home to many late night, upscale sentos that allow you to ease out of your long night.    Price: from $4-24




Have a favorite spot in Shinjuku we didn't mention?  Let us know!