Shinjuku Golden Gai is a small area in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, that is famous for both an area of architectural interest and nightlife. It consists of a network of six narrow streets connected by even narrower passageways that are just wide enough to be traversed by a single person.
Over 200 tiny bars, clubs, and restaurants are here. Each tiny entrance is individually covered with stickers, sometimes spotless and painted, sometimes aged and battered. However, if you visit Shinjuku Golden Gai you should bring enough cash with you as the area is not cheap. As many of the buildings host more than one bar, the steep stairs can make for a completely different experience.
Shinjuku Golden Gai is known as a meeting place for musicians, artists, directors, writers, academics and actors, including many celebrities. Many of the bars only receive regulars, so you might have to look around here to find the best spot for the night.
5-minute walk from Shinjuku Station
Located right next to Shinjuku Chuo Park, THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku is a modern hotel with an exceptional design and easy access to the nearby Shinjuku train station and the Meiji Shrine. The 14-story hotel building was renovated and reopened in August 2018 as THE KNOT TOKYO Shinjuku . The western-style rooms offer a park view on the top floor as well as a newly opened terrace suite. The spacious atrium design offers a relaxed atmosphere and connects the restaurant, bar, lounge and lobby with one another. One of the highlights of THE KNOT is the delicious dishes. There are six areas in which food and drinks are offered. From the grill area to high-quality black tea and fresh bread, everything is on offer.
With Koenji being a "creatives town" it's no surprise that BnA Hotel opened there in 2016 and has had, subsequently, an incredible impact on the local community. BnA (Bed and Art) has other spaces dotted about Tokyo and Kyoto but the Koenji edition is possibly more immersive as the concept is "stay in an artwork." In collaboration with local artists the BnA has created an impressive multi-storey art experiment for art lovers and creatives with a desire to inhabit art. The first floor acts as a front desk and bar which comes alive at night with events and selected DJs. It also hosts Masu Masu onigiri cafe with artists being asked to come and exchange artwork with each other in a gesture which reflects the true spirit of Koenji. With two "living art" twin rooms taking up the second and third floors designed by a seasonal rotation of local artists, guests can engage with and inhabit their art rooms. BnA Koenji also plays host to a rooftop lounge and a basement space which is used for artists residencies where their work is shown to the public and DJ booth and streaming equipment for live performances. With live painting events and an eclectic variety of regular events the BnA Hotel becomes, itself, a living canvas. The BnA believes that it's a machigata hotel meaning that guests should (and encouraged) to interact with Koenji. Use the public sentos, eat in the local restaurants that surround the hotel and buy locally from the multitude of shops, market stalls, bars and cafes which make up the fabric of Koenji. Feted by international press such as The Guardian, BnA acts as a creative network with the concept of serendipity being discussed as the bar becomes an ad hoc meeting place where collaborations and friendships between artists and locals are born. The BnA was also instrumental in a street art festival named MCP (Mural City Project) which was supported by Suginami Ward. MCP was incredibly ambitious and truly communal with the desire to transform and coalesce the community through the creation of public murals. The BnA, Koenji and Suginami spearheaded a public art movement which should be commended and replicated throughout Tokyo.
NOHGA HOTEL AKIHABARA TOKYO is conveniently located in the midst of electric town Akihabara, also known as the capital of manga and anime. In addition, this neighborhood has an abundance of tech shops, maid cafes and a variety of restaurants. With just a 6 minute walk away from Akihabara station, it provides easy access to explore other areas nearby such as Ueno and Asakusa. This hotel embodies the rich cultures of music, art and food. Nohga’s concept of music is derived from Akihabara’s local history, starting as a district of radio and wireless component merchants in the late 1920s. The artistic and luxurious space throughout the hotel is achieved by featuring art and amenities designed in collaboration with craftsmen from around Japan. As for the food menu, it’s seasonal fresh ingredients are sourced domestically. The glasses and dinnerware served are collaborations with stores in the surrounding area. All 120 non-smoking guest rooms feature an ensuite bathroom with a rain shower, in-room safety box, mini fridge, USB plugs, free Wi-Fi, a high-quality bluetooth speaker and flatscreen TV with original music and film. The lounge area and a compact 24-hour gym can be found near the reception on the second floor. Services include laundry (from 2,750JPY) and a 24-hour front desk with a check in time of 3PM and check-out time at 11AM For sightseeing you can rent a Tokyobike for the day (2,000 JPY/day) to explore the vicinity.
Situated a few minutes stroll from the north exit of JR Koenji Station, Clouds Art + Coffee is a simple affair reflecting the owners' passion for, well, art and coffee. Very chic and sparse, the space is compact with a fine selection of coffee from all over the world such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil which makes it the perfect spot for Tokyo's legion of coffee addicts. The owners curate a healthy mix of artwork from local and international artists and the rotational exhibition system means that regular customers have the opportunity to see, firsthand, the best and most intriguing art from Koenji's thriving art community. There's no censorship at Clouds Art + Coffee and artists are encouraged to represent themselves and their work in a free manner and this means, essentially, that customers can view an eclectic and liberating amount of art hand in hand with some of the finest coffee in Koenji and Tokyo as a whole. Clouds Art + Coffee is, ostensibly, a hub and tryst for art and coffee lovers who come from far and wide to sample international coffee made from the finest beans and art from emerging and established artists.
PIZZERIA & BAR NOHGA is an all day dining restaurant interpreting a fusion of “Spanish Italian” cuisine and has a kitchen to table design. There is a casual bar area and restaurant where you can take a peek inside the open kitchen whilst enjoying your meal. Visit the cafe for a range of coffees and teas along with an offering of tapas snacks and seasonal desserts. The cafe also offers an assorted dessert and all-you-can-drink cafe set. Breakfast takes on the art of sharing, where a range of platters are combined with focaccia and your choice of eggs cooked your way. Coming for lunch? Choose from a selection of pizzas, pastas and salads. Each lunch menu is accompanied with homemade soup, iced tea and focaccia. Dinner time offers a range of exquisite tapas and pizzas that can also be shared. Breakfast: 07:00 - 10:00, Lunch 11:30 - 14:30, Cafe 14:30 - 18:00, Dinner: 18:00 - 23:00 with last order at 10pm.
The Pokémon Café in Nihonbashi, which opened in March 2018, is the latest character café in the popular series of games and series in Tokyo. The café and the adjacent Pokémon Center DX store were opened in 1997 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first store. The bright café, which is furnished in warm wood tones, offers main courses, desserts and drinks - all of which are arranged with a focus on one or more Pokémon and some are suitable and limited to certain topics or seasons. You can also find exclusive merchandise here - from plush toys in chef jackets to bowls and cutlery with Pokémon motifs. They also sell Pikachu Sweets, special sweets and products with the most popular of all Pokémon as a motif. A visit to the Pokémon Café is only possible with a prior reservation, time slots can be selected from one month in advance and also in English via the website. It is located on the 5th floor of the Nihombashi Takashimaya Shopping Center, which is not far from the Tokyo and Nihonbashi stations.
The robot restaurant in the Kabukicho Shinjuku entertainment district offers an extraordinary experience for those looking for something really flashy. Not only is there a place to eat and drink, but guests are also entertained with a show of a different kind. Huge remote-controlled robots, rhythmic drums, wild lasers and energetic dancers tell small stories strongly inspired by Japanese pop culture and tradition in a kind of theater show made up of several acts. In order to become a certain part yourself, you can cheer on the performers with the glow sticks known from Japanese concerts. These can be borrowed free of charge or you can also bring your own.
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the largest and most popular public gardens in Tokyo. The park is just a short walk from the well-known Shinjuku district and is particularly famous for its seasonal cherry blossoms. Shinjuku Gyoen was created during the Edo period (1603-1867) as the residence of a feudal lord in Tokyo and was later converted into a botanical garden. In 1903 the area was transferred to the imperial family, who used it for recreation. The park was almost completely destroyed in World War II but was eventually rebuilt and reopened as a public park in 1949. There is a Japanese garden as well as French and English gardens and a greenhouse. There are also several spacious green areas where you can go for a walk and enjoy the cherry blossom or autumn leaves.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings (東京都庁舎, Tōkyō Tochō) are comprised of the North and South and house many offices relating to the local city government. The building is best known for its free observatories, one in each tower, which offer stunning panoramas of the city and the surrounding prefectures. The observation decks sit at 202 meters above the ground, giving visitors a true birds’ eye view of the Tokyo skyline. Iconic structures – such as Odaiba’s Rainbow Bridge, the Tokyo Dome, the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower – can usually be seen. On clear days, Mt Fuji is often visible on the horizon. Panels along the walls of both observatories detail the buildings that can be seen from each direction. The North Observatory usually remains open until 11pm at night. It’s a great opportunity to see the sunset or catch the evening glow of the metropolis. On days when the North Observatory closes early, the South Observatory compensates by staying open late. The building is designed by Kenzo Tange. Each observatory boasts a café as well as a small souvenir outlet. On the 2nd floor of the building, there is also a large tourist information center that dispenses brochures and knowledge on all parts of Tokyo, as well as some of the surrounding cities and prefectures. The government buildings often host local product fairs on the observation decks to highlight regional delicacies and goods. Past fairs have featured such items as Shizuoka’s tea and seafood products, apple-themed goods from Tohoku and soba noodles from the Nagano region.