My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: July 30, 2019
This is the side of Tokyo we often conjure in dreams: a sci-fi mashup of neon lights, glittering skyscrapers and mysterious back alleys. It's busy, noisy, brash and colorful fun. You can feast on delicious ramen noodles, visit a traditional shrine and dance with robots, all in one day. For the best experience, start around sunset and dive in.
The infamous "busiest train station in the world" can be confusing. Around 3.6 million commuters pass through here daily, but the train lines are well sign-posted and color-coded. Aim for the Central East Exit with a koban police box, to start your explorations of the east side.
Formerly a slightly seedy area of bars and hostess clubs, new additions such as hit themed-restaurants and the Toho cinema with the adjoining Godzilla-themed Hotel Gracery, have made it almost family friendly. The neon-drenched streets provide great photo opportunities.
In the city that never sleeps, you're sure to see some interesting characters shopping here, late at night. You could spend hours wandering this mega discount store, which seems to sell literally everything. If you're looking for souvenirs, you'll find matcha-flavored sweets and cute character goods.
The best way to learn about ninja is to be one. At this ninja house, you can explore hidden doors, trick floors and secret passageways and solve puzzles. Learn how to handle a sword like a ninja and evade capture. It's a fun experience for the whole family.
On the edge of Kabukicho, this sprawling Shinto shrine is considered the protector of the area and as such, draws many colorful local characters to pray for good business. In November at the Tori no Ichi festival, elaborately decorated rakes are sold to “rake” in good luck.
As you walk back to Shinjuku Station, it's easy to miss this discrete maze of lantern-lit alleys near the West Exit. The area is crammed with tiny bars and casual restaurants, with a nostalgic atmosphere. Make sure you take your camera to capture the scenes, straight out of a movie.