An Area Guide to Shinjuku and Beyond

Guides Tokyo Life - August 8th, 2016

Take a brisk walk from Shinjuku’s main bustle and you’ll be surprised by what you can find in the quieter neighborhoods.

Photos by Luca Eandi

Eyes in the Storm

It may come as a surprise, but there are plenty of spots around central Shinjuku where you can find a bit of peace and quiet. One of them is Kumano Shrine in Nishi Shinjuku. Each one of the some 3,000 of these shrines around the country is meant to honor three sacred mountains in Wakayama Prefecture – it’s fitting, then, that this one is located in the city’s skyscraper district. The shrine is directly connected to Shinjuku Central Park, the area’s largest green space. Divided into three separate sections, the park has a large playground and a pool for kids, a sports area, and small forested area for budding naturalists. For an evening hideaway, Japanese whiskey lovers will find a little distillation of heaven at Zoetrope, a bar that stocks some 300 varieties and plays a selection of classic films throughout the evening. Finally, one way to find some solace amid the urban hustle is to get above it all – the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s twin observation decks offer stunning views, and excellent photo opportunities, from 45 floors above the city streets.


Gazing up at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Spiritual Haven

Dividing the campuses of Waseda and Gakushuin Universities, Ana-Hachimangu is a Shinto shrine established in 1062, dedicated to the divinity of archery and war. There, by the front steps, the statue of Hachiman, protector of Japan, sits on horseback, pulled bow in hand. Despite the intimidating posture, the location of the shrine at the top of a hill provides a quiet escape from the busy intersection below. For another peaceful spell, St. Mary’s Cathedral in nearby Sekiguchi is worth a visit. The industrial, stainless steel-paneled exterior is in the shape of a cross, making it a fitting home for the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. The interior is equally modern and austere, with tall parabolic cement walls coming together to form a cross of light at the top.

Gardens of the Galaxy

Besides being the birthplace of legendary manga character Astro Boy, Takadanobaba has another sci-fi connection – JJ Abrams revealed that the name of the planet “Takodana” from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was inspired by the Tokyo neighborhood. While that fictional planet is largely lakes and forests, Takadanobaba is decidedly less green. Luckily, there’s a handful of natural oases in Baba to transport you far, far away. Neighboring Waseda University’s main campus, the Rihga Royal Hotel has a large, open-spaced garden featuring impressive traditional landscaping. Just across the Kanda River and up the hill, the Chinzanso Hotel is home to a lush 19th-century garden complete with a pond, waterfall and three-story pagoda.

It’s Raining Ramen

In a neighborhood filled with college students and single business types, ramen shops are omnipresent. Down an alley, near the intersection of Waseda-dori and Meiji-dori, Watanabe stands out as some of Takadanobaba’s best ramen. Their rich tonkotsu-gyokai (pork and fish) broth is powerful stuff. If you’re more adventurous, there’s Nong Inlay, a restaurant that serves up tasty traditional Burmese fare, including fried larvae and spiced frog legs. Non-carnivores can head to Café VG for vegetarian alternatives. For drinks, a frothy brew awaits you at the awkwardly named 16’s Stairing Steps Case, where they keep many Belgian beers on tap. If coffee and jazz is more your style, Milestone is a neighborhood staple, faithfully serving caffeine with a side of bebop to hipsters since 1976.


Apartment Hunting?

Sumitomo offers several serviced apartment buildings within easy striking distance of Shinjuku and its surrounds.

La Tour SHINJUKU Garden
A five-minute stroll from JR Takadanobaba Station and right next to Toyama Park, this building’s apartments are all above the 23rd floor with great views. (From ¥288,000/month)


Central Park Tower La Tour SHINJUKU
This location features apartments with floor plans that range in size from studio to two bedrooms, all with Shinjuku Central Park as the biggest backyard you could ever ask for. (From ¥299,000/month)


Offering studio and one bedroom units, just a three-minute walk from Nishi Shinjuku Station. Like the other two properties above, the PLATINE offers a fitness room and 24-hour concierge service. (From ¥290,000/month)


For details and more properties visit

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