Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Hiiii, friends! Hello! Happy Saturday! I hope this post finds you in the mood for a spot of armchair travelling, because I’m here to share my first Tokyo travel guide with you! As you probably already know, Tokyo is absolutely! ginormous!, and to save ourselves from trekking back and forth and all over the place, Husband and I based ourselves in specific sections & localized everything we did. As such, I’ll be breaking up my overall Tokyo guide into manageable localized sections to save you from gallivanting all over the city – you following? My first post – this one! Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo – covers exactly what it says on the tin. I’ll also be sharing two more Tokyo guides this month: A Morning in Asakusa, and 24 Hours in Shibuya. Yeah… it’s gonna be a good month! Shall we kick it off in style?

My Shinjuku guide begins below. For ease, I’ve divided it up into easy to read sections: getting there, where we stayed, had coffee & pastries, ate lunch and dinner, stopped for a drink, and where we tourist-ed. Naturally, because I’m me, you’ll also find a fun fact section, because I just love being able to throw random nuggets of information into casual conversation. Enjoy, friends!

I know you love a good fun fact as much as I do – don’t try to convince me otherwise 😉 Here are 3 Shinjuku facts to have up your sleeve.

• Shinjuku Station is the busiest railway station in the whole world! It sees more than a staggering 3.4 million(!!) passengers every. single. day. How mind boggling is that?

• related: there are 200 different ways in and out of the station. Oof, now imagine that as the location of a Bourne film. I’m honestly surprised why that hasn’t been done?! Probs too hard to manage, what with the 3.4 million people that use it every day.

• Shinjuku has more restaurants than any other district within Tokyo! If you pair that with another fun fact – Tokyo has the most Michelin starred restaurants than any other city in the world! – you’d truly be hard pressed to have a bad meal in the city.

We took a ‘Limousine Bus’ from Haneda airport to Shinjuku. For full and exact details, please see this post here.

THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku // would recommend. Read my full thoughts about our hotel in my last Japan post, here.

MORETHAN BAKERY // home to the best pastries in Tokyo? Perhaps! We stopped here every morning during our stay in Shinjuku, and the pastries were so delicious! We sampled many a croissant, a pain au chocolat (sprinkled with crunchy almonds!) or two, and more cinnamon morning buns than I care to admit. Everything was abundantly flakey, buttery, moreish, and amazing – but the morning buns might just nab the top spot! They also offer a hot filter coffee, which was strong and surprisingly good value. A must visit. Address: 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 4 Chome−31−1, The Knot Tokyo Shinjuku, 1F

FarmMart & Friends // the cutest little find! We were en route to the Meiji Shrine, below, walking through a fairly quiet residential neighbourhood, and I saw on the map that there was a bakery ahead, just slightly out of our way. Naturally, we made a detour, obvs, and discovered this tiny adorable donut shop! Even though we’d literally just loaded up on pastries from the above, we couldn’t not try something – everything looked amazing! We opted for a ‘golden honey donut’ to share and it was so good: light-as-air, flavourful, and wondrously sticky. Would recommend. Address: 3 Chome-9-5 Yoyogi, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0053

Mister Donut // a really very good donut! I went for an old-fashioned donut, while Husband went for a classic chocolate dipped donut; both were great! You’ll see a couple Mister Donuts dotted around the city, but we went to the ‘Shinjuku Yasukuni Street’ location en route to the Golden Gai, below. Always a good idea to load up on donuts before heading out for a drink! Address: 1 Chome-2-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021

Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen Bankara // a delicious ramen spot! Husband found this place online and it was ideal for us pork-loving people! We both opted for the house specialty, bankara ramen with tonkotsu, and a bottle of Sapporo, which was the perfect accompaniment for cutting through the fatty dish. Think: a giant bowl of ramen made with pork broth, fantastic chewy noodles, thin slices of pork within, and two large cuts of pork belly on top. It was delightful, and exactly what we needed to keep us fueled for a day of exploring! Would recommend. Address: 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kabukicho, 1 Chome−17−5 第二安田ビル 1F

Toriya // a great yakitori spot! They offered a 7-course menu or a 9-course menu, and, as yakitori newbies, we opted for the 7-course menu. Seeing as none of the staff spoke English and the menu was in Japanese, we were a little daunted initially, but decided to put our trust in the lone chef behind the counter because YOLO. Spoiler alert: everything was great! Each skewer was different and I can’t be 100% sure, but I think we sampled: chicken heart, chicken breast, chicken thigh, chicken mince with egg yolk, and a chicken ball in miso. Non-skewered accompaniments included: pickled cucumbers, pickled onions, and a mini Caesar salad with bacon. It was so much fun! Would recommend. Address: 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 3 Chome−7−27 地下1階 セントヒルズ西新宿 堤ビルディング

MORETHAN TAPAS LOUNGE // a fantastic restaurant! Hot off the plane after our 22-hour journey, we ate our first meal of the trip here because a. it was located on the ground floor of our hotel, b. we were exhausted, and c. it was too easy to pass up. Honestly, we weren’t expecting much – but wowee, our meal was amazing! Starved, we ordered a wagyu burger each, nachos to share, and two ice-cold glasses of Heartland pilsner. The burgers, which turned out to be smash burgers(!), came laden with teriyaki sauce, homemade ketchup, cheese, pickles, and a side of fries that tasted identical to McDonald’s. Friends, it’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life. So crispy, flavourful, and addictively moreish. Mmm, wagyu beef. A must visit! See also: where we drank, below. Address: 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 4 Chome−31−1 ザ ノット 東京新宿 1階

Domino’s Pizza Nishishinjuku // listen, this blog is a place of no judgement. One night, on our way home from drinking in the Golden Gai, we were suddenly ravenous. We’d spotted a Domino’s around the corner from our hotel the day before, and, before we really knew what was happening, we were in our hotel room, eating pizza, drinking beer from 7-ELEVEN, and watching sumo wrestling. Naturally, we went for a pepperoni pizza with sides of chicken karaage, and, while still pizza and therefore delicious, it didn’t live up to the Irish standards. The sauce was a little less flavourful, and the dough was too thin maybe? But like I said, pizza is pizza. Fun fact: we also did something similar in Canada, although without the sumo wrestling. We might have a pizza problem. Address: 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 4 Chome−17−3 ベルパークシティ西新宿

Everywhere we stopped for an alcoholic beverage or two is listed below. But first! If I may, I’d like to share a quick note about visiting the Golden Gai. We personally didn’t experience anything untoward, but.. this is exactly the area of Tokyo where something untoward would be likely to happen. There are police announcements being played on a loop in the surrounding areas, warning tourists to be aware of gangs operating in the area. Again, we didn’t see or experience anything, but we overheard a family in our hotel talking about how dodgy their visit was. Our recommendation would be to visit the area on the earlier side of the night! For safety, sure, but also because a lot of the bars charge a cover charge if you arrive after 7pm! Safety silver linings 😉

Peak Bar @ Park Hyatt Tokyo // by far, the classiest place we visited! If you’ve ever seen Lost in Translation, you’ll understand why having a drink here was high on our honeymoon bucket list. Sadly, the exact bar they used for the movie – the New York Bar, on the 52nd floor – was closed for renovations during our visit. But! This bar, on the 41st floor, is just as fantastic! We sat at the bar, overlooking the twinkling lights of the city below and indulged in some fantastic cocktails: a salty margarita, a (slightly unusual) old fashioned, and a fantastic whiskey sour each. Be warned: going here is a rather luxurious treat – we spent ¥11,132 / ~€69 on just four cocktails! However, we really enjoyed ourselves & would 100% opt for this treat-yo-self experience again. An absolute must visit. Address: 〒163-1055 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 3 Chome−7−1-2, Shinjuku Park Tower, 41F

5GALLONS @ Golden Gai // my feelings on the Golden Gai are conflicted. On one hand, everyone says you have to go and it’s so unique etc. On the other hand, if you’re not into “going out”, then it isn’t ideal for you; it’s similar to Dublin’s Temple Bar area. Husband and I aren’t “going out” people, but we didn’t want to miss out on any quintessential Japanese experiences. 5GALLONS was the only bar we passed that looked welcoming – the rest seemed rather seedy. We squeezed in beside two others – which effectively closed the bar, as there were only 4 stools! – and enjoyed a beer each and a shochu between us. The bartender-lady was nice, but it’s a little awks because you have to mingle. Ultimately: we had fun, but it’s not really our scene. Address: 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kabukicho, 1 Chome−1−5 8番街 新宿ゴールデン街

THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku // we enjoyed some rather lovely beverages in our hotel! Allow me: MORETHAN GRILL // our bar of choice for a nightcap within the hotel! We stopped by a couple of times and sampled: an old fashioned cocktail, some Wild Turkey, and a glass of local white wine. The ambiance in the bar is relaxing and classy, and the staff are friendly. Would recommend. Address: THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku, 2F. MORETHAN TAPAS LOUNGE // we stopped in here after noticing a sign advertising a daily happy hour! From 3-5pm, they offer a selection of drinks for ¥550/€3.30 each; which is superb value! Husband opted for a Heartland pilsner and a RIKU highball, while I went for a glass of cava and a Heartland. Would recommend. See also: where we ate, above. Address: THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku, 1F.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck // so cool! As far as I’m aware, this is the only free viewpoint in Tokyo – and you better believe that you’re gonna want to see Tokyo from above! There are two towers, each with a viewing platform, but they only have one open at a time. On the day we visited, the South Tower was open, but I don’t think it really makes a difference? A speedy elevator zoomed us up to the 45th floor, where we were treated to a mesmerizing view of the city shaking off the sunrise. The platform provides an almost-but-not-quite 360° view, and there’s a giftshop & cafe in the centre of the floor if you’re looking to linger. Added bonus: if you’re staying in THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku hotel, above, this is literally right across the block! A must visit. Address: 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001

Meiji Shrine // the most famous Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Located deep inside a beautiful park/forest, the walk up through the greenery to the shrine felt rather magical. Don’t get me wrong, it was buzzing with people when we visited, but there was a definite Zen tone about the place, everyone was very calm and peaceful. We made an offering at the main hall, rang the bell, and said our prayers. Visitors can also pay to write their wish on an ema: a little wooden plate that is hung around the shrine in the hopes it’ll come true. We opted not to write an ema, but reading through the hopes and dreams of strangers was strangely beautiful. A must visit. Address: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557

Shinjuku Centre // okay, Shinjuku itself is just SUCH a cool sight to see! Wandering the streets in the centre of the district is literally a mouth-danglingly-open kind of moment – I wish I was exaggerating! These are two fun highlights to look out for. 3D Cat // a ginormous 3D calico cat on a billboard! It was pure coincidence that we stumbled across this, but it’s so cool and lifelike! We only saw the cat, but this article has the lowdown on all of Tokyo’s 3D animals. Address: opposite Shinjuku Station’s east exit. Godzilla Head // the sea-monster in the flesh! Well, not really, but it sure looks that way! Again, another accidental find, but a super cool one: Godzilla clambering between the skyscrapers! Fun! Address: 1 Chome-19 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021

Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Well friends, there we have it: Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Aka, my first Japan city guide! I hope you love it and, if you’re Japan bound, find it helpful! We were very pleasantly surprised by how much we fell in love with the area! My next Tokyo guide – A Morning in Asakusa! – is coming shortly, I promise!

Until then,

Vicki xo

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