6 Things to Learn Before You Book a Hotel in Shinjuku: Pros & Cons by a Tokyo Local

Although 86 out of 800 hotels in Tokyo are located in Shinjuku, I hadn’t written any hotel guide for that district.

The reason is very simple; I don’t like Shinjuku!

It would sound personal, but it is convincing – There must be reasons why a Japanese local (I am a Tokyo local! See About page) dislikes Shinjuku.

Views of Shinjuku from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

This time, I list up pros and cons for travelers to stay in Shinjuku. I admit that this post is biased, but you want the biases which are called, “Insider’s Tips,” don’t you?

Cons to Stay in Shinjuku…

1: Kabukicho, the Most Dangerous Place in Japan

When you have a chance to become friends with a Japanese person, ask him or her, “Where is the most dangerous place in Japan?” I’m sure that his or her answer is, “Kabukicho in Shinjuku.”

Guidebooks will say that Kabukicho area in Shinjuku is the biggest entertainment / nightlife district in Japan.

I say that Kabukicho is the concentration of crimes and crazy things.
Tokyo

(image copyrights Moyan BrennThank you very much!)

When you are seeing Kabukicho ON PHOTOS like this, the neon signs look “beautiful”.

But it is another to STAY there! You found Tokyo Direct Guide, so you can learn from a Japanese native that the signs are saying “girls” or something like that!

Seriously, it is reported that some international travelers got into trouble in Kabukicho. The typical case is that they were asked for unbelievable amount of money at restaurants where they ordered just a small meal. (The Japanese police calls travelers’ attention to bad business in Kabukicho. Some lawyers are managing troubles there, too. Read travel safety information here.)

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Generally, Tokyo is a safe city.

I grew up in Tokyo. When I go to popular places such as Asakusa, Shibuya, Harajuku, etc, I’m not afraid of even pickpockets. I rarely hear of violent crimes.

Unless you poke your nose into crazy things in Kabukicho.

Don’t misunderstand me. The other streets in Shinjuku are NOT dangerous as it often happens in big cities in the world. Shinjuku has the aspect as a big business district as shopping and entertainment, so there are uncountable common people working in cool offices.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is SAFE.

SAFE and beautiful garden in Shinjuku

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building observatory is Definitely SAFE!! It’d be so strange if a government’s office were in a crazy place, wouldn’t it?!

SAFE Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building!

Therefore, it is completely safe to stay in a hotel out of Kabukicho area.

But it is not very comforting to stay beside the most dangerous district in Japan, isn’t it?

2: Confusing Access to some tourist attractions

It is true that Shinjuku is a hub.

However, it is not convenient for all of you to visit some places in Tokyo. If you expect TOO MUCH about convenient transportation, you can be disappointed.

First, open The Easiest JR Train Map & Subway Maps of Tokyo I made for beginner visitors.

You understand that Shinjuku is located in the western part of Tokyo City. As a result, the eastern part is not so close.

For example, when you visit Asakusa, you need to cross Tokyo City and change trains. Don’t assume that you’ll be in front of iconic Kaminari-mon Gate in several minutes.

You might be aiming world’s freshest sushi in Tsukiji Fish Market. And you find Tsukiji Shijo (= Market) Station of Oedo Subway Line that you can catch at Shinjuku.
Please read my explanation. Oedo Line runs deeeeeeeeeep under the ground, so the ways to/from Oedo Line platform are so loooooooooog!!

To make matters worse, if you are going to go to Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, or Northern Japan, Shinjuku is not a Shinkansen (Japanese super express) station. Not very near to the airports, either.

Shinjuku is a major station, so I wrote how to get to Tokyo’s must-sees from Shinjuku on the sightseeing guides.
http://tokyo-direct-guide.com/mustsees/

It depends on where in Tokyo you want to visit whether Shinjuku is a good place to stay.

3: Shinjuku Station is Too Large

It’s natural that you think Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is at the foot of you if you book a hotel in Shinjuku.

Wait.

Please let me advise you to check out the maps on Booking.com. Where in Shinjuku is the hotel?
I keep explaining this matter with the example of Shinjuku Gyoen Garden.

How many minutes will it take to reach here from Shinjuku?

If your hotel is located in the west of Shinjuku Station, you must walk to the park in the east. Personally, I don’t want to imagine walking 10 minutes to the station, looking for the appropriate exit, crossing the huge station that is always renewing, and walking another 10 minutes to the garden. How inefficient! In my opinion, people from Shibuya can arrive at Shinjuku Gyoen earlier than those from Shinjuku!
Shinjuku is a large district, not one single street. Especially, it is hard to cross the massive station and to find the right exit from many.

You see how I dislike Shinjuku.
But some of you might say, “Only cons? It doesn’t make sense that Hilton built their 5-Star luxury hotel in such a place!” Or, you might shout, “Heeeeeeey, Kozue, I’ve booked a hotel in Shinjuku before reading this!”

Although I avoid Shinjuku whenever I can, I also believe that it is a good place for some travelers.
Let’s see pros. You shouldn’t miss them!




Pros to Stay in Shinjuku!

1: A Great Advantage to Go to Western Tokyo

If you are going to

  1. Mt. Fuji
  2. Mt. Takao
  3. Ghibli Museum
  4. Jindaiji, Kichijoji and somewhere in Western Tokyo

Shinjuku is the BEST place to stay!

When you go to Mt. Fuji or Ghibli Museum, you take JR Chuo Line. Shinjuku is the major station of Chuo Line as well as Tokyo Station. See The Easiest JR Train Map again, and you see that you have an advantage to go there if you are in Shinjuku.

Mt. Fuji, the symbol of Japan
Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, in the west from Tokyo City

What’s more, when you visit Mt. Takao, the best way is to take Keio Line, whose terminal is Shinjuku!

Mt. Takao. If you feel, “What is this??”, please see my posts.

People who stay in other places in Tokyo must be on a train for tens of minutes to Shinjuku first. Their trip to Mt. Fuji starts at Shinjuku at last. How Sleepy! You are lucky to find Tokyo Direct Guide!

2: Harajuku and Shibuya are Close to You!

This fact is amazingly simple.

Harajuku is the second station from Shinjuku by JR Yamanote Line. Shibuya is the third.

Scramble Crossing in Shibuya

If your main purpose to travel in Tokyo is going shopping in the modern city, Shinjuku is close to these places of trends. And Shinjuku itself is a huge shopping district, too.

3: A Wide Range of Hotels

As I said at the beginning, many of 600 hotels in Tokyo are located in Shinjuku.

You can find many 5-Star hotels. Even if I list only worldwide luxury hotels on Booking.com, there are

You will also find Japanese hotels at the same prices. They are known as top luxury hotels in Tokyo by both international travelers and Japanese people. As I said, excellent hotels are in safe and calm places in Shinjuku.

If you are a backpacker who want to save money, you can find the cheapest “capsule hotels.”

In conclusion, my suggestions are the following.

  1. If you are going to Mt. Fuji and/or places in Western Tokyo, you should book a hotel in Shinjuku unless you mind Kabukicho.
  2. If you are visiting Tokyo to explore modern city life and to go shopping, Shinjuku is a good place to stay.
  3. If you don’t have either of the two factors above, I don’t recommend Shinjuku.

It is the best way to ask a local for a good hotel booking when we go to somewhere new. When it’s a large and complicated city like Tokyo, it is even more tactful to do so.

Hope you have a happy, happier travel with a local’s voices on Tokyo Direct Guide!

Helpful Links

Hotels in Shinjuku on Booking.com
Accommodation Advice by Tokyo Direct Guide



Booking.com

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