Shinjuku Station has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most number of train passengers congregated in one place. It’s no surprise that a station that has over 3,000,000 or more people pass through it on a daily basis has received such recognition. The principal reason for such a large number of commuters is the easy accessibility to the various major areas throughout Tokyo such as Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Tokyo Station. This accessibility and convenience is largely influenced by the fact that at Shinjuku Station, there are a total of 5 different transportation companies, including both the JR and Tokyo Metro (subway) lines, with 3 lines serviced by the Tokyo Metro for very handy commuting. Not only are trains available as a mode of transport for commuters, but there are also bus lines at the west gate of the station servicing access to Shibuya and Shinagawa, as well as buses with routes to Narita Airport, Hakone and Nikko.
Around Shinjuku Station
Close to Shinjuku Station, you will find anything from department stores such as Lumine and Takashimaya to restaurants serving various world cuisines, fast food outlets such as McDonald’s to karaoke parlors and movie theaters. It is surely a place for amusement and is continuously being developed, recently with the construction of a great deal of multistory apartment buildings. In West Shinjuku, there are many soaring skyscrapers of which the majority are office towers but there are also buildings such as Tokyo Opera City, along with deluxe hotels like the Washington Hotel and Park Hyatt.
Shinjuku’s Golden Gai
In the thick of the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku is a place called Golden Gai, a neighborhood of restaurants and bars located in the Kabukicho Itchome district. Kabuchicho itself is a mere 5-minute walk from the east exit of Shinjuku Station, and is filled with restaurants, izakaya pubs and red-light establishments, although Golden Gai mostly has izakayas. Each bar has its own character and sense of individuality, and amongst the bars you will find ones that are frequented by writers and film directors, as well as a few jazz bars. Golden Gai looks like it has remained just as it had been during the Showa Period, and filling the vacancy of the narrow street are scores of izakayas and bars. The buildings that are occupied by these bars and restaurants were erected in the postwar era in Japan, have fortunately not been swallowed up by the rapid development of the surrounding areas and the appearance strongly resembles the appearance and sense of feeling of the Showa Period.
It appears that the friendly and welcoming environment of the Golden Gai has been drawing foreign visitors. In the summertime, there is the Golden Gai Summer Festival (implemented in August of 2014) where you can enjoy the atmosphere at 500 yen a drink with no cover charge. Cover charge is often added onto the bill in many of these small bars populating the narrow alleyway but during the festival, this cover charge is excised. Over 170 bars are open from lunchtime during the festival and so it is recommended for those who may feel nervous about visiting the neighborhood at night. Moreover, the Hanazono Shrine, which is adjacent to the Golden Gai, has a bird market occurring in November of every year and has continued on a yearly basis since the Edo Period. Should you happen to be there during the season, it is highly recommended as a spot to visit in addition to the Golden Gai.