To stand in Shinjuku Station is a surreal experience. With over two million passengers passing through the station every day, it’s a constant sea of people busily heading to work in the towering skyscrapers above street level. To illustrate just how frenetic things get here it’s worth noting that train staff members are actually employed to squeeze commuters onto the train during peak hours.
To the west of the station, office blocks and hotels fill the towering buildings with an estimated 250,000 workers but Shinjuku is much more than a corporate warren, the streets east of the station have been popular nightlife spots since Edo times and there are many large and interesting shops to explore by day. Amidst the bustle of the area Shinjuku-Gyoen Garden offers peaceful respite. A little further out is the Sword Museum which houses an impressive collection of Japanese swords dating back to the 12th century. With a little of everything Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s most diverse centres and warrants a visit at any time of day or night. You should really come mentally prepared to see thousands and thousands of ‘salary men’ and ‘office ladies’ in an almost robotic-like existence and if you are claustrophobic it’s best to think twice about tackling this hyper-crowded area.
Starting from Shinjuku Station, follow the signs to the West Exit then emerge onto an open-square area surrounded by department stores, banks and insurance companies. The two funnel-like constructions at either end are huge air vents for the station below. Not far away you’ll come across such delights as Shomben Yokocho (‘Piss Alley’) and the city’s red light district and the two main shopping stretches, Shinjuku Dori Avenue and Yasukuni Dori Avenue.
Shinjuku Station is on the JR Yamanote Line, the JR Chuo Line, the JR Sobu Line, the JR Saikyo Line, the Marunouchi Subway Line, the TOEI Shinjuku Line, the Oedo Line, the TOEI no 12 Line, the Odakyu Line and the Keio Line.