Tokyo, a place I used to call home. It is an exciting place for both tourists and long-time residents, as there is always a new neighbourhood to explore. Tokyo might just be “too much city” out there so it can be quite overwhelming while you try to get your bearings. But if you are on the JR Yamanote Line, that is a good start! This is a city built for serendipitous exploration so I do have a lot to share. For first-time visitors who hope to find the best location for their accommodation as set out to all the hot sightseeing spots, I would always recommend Shinjuku.
Below are some recommended options for gastronomic delights and activities for a day in downtown Shinjuku only.
BTW, a disclaimer on my recommendations: I lived in Japan for 6 years but left in 2022. So, do check if they are still open for business. It is also a personal preference so feel free to substitute with TikTok recommendations when desired.
2) Coffee at Starbucks (They have fantastic merch! If you get a chance, go to the roastery in Naka-Meguro) or Doutor (a beloved local chain coffee shop with amazing treats) or a convenience store (eg: Seven Eleven/Family Mart/Lawson) Family Mart is my favourite but I know many who love their coffee at 7e and Lawson as well. If you usually like a darker roast, I would say go for 7e.
1) Affordable sardine-themed lunch sets at a Michelin-starred restaurant “Shinjuku Kappa Nakajima” (新宿割烹 中嶋)
2) 1000JPY Shabu-Shabu Lunch at Mochi Buta Shabu-Shabu Shinjuku Musashi (もち豚しゃぶしゃぶ新宿武蔵)
1) Afternoon Doutor/Vending Machine Coffee (not my favourite but it’s not bad) and a stroll through Shinjuku Gyeon (500JPY). You could pick up a leisure mat at a Daiso and have a picnic there. I think they now have a Starbucks inside too.
2) Afternoon retail therapy around Shinjuku Station (Eg: Lumine/Isetan/Takashimaya Luxury Department Stores)
3) Spot Mount Fuji at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories (Free) - Be warned: might have a long line closer to sunset time.
4) Afternoon cocktails at Brooklyn Parlour Shinjuku
3) All-you-can-eat Japanese BBQ at Gyukaku restaurant
4) Affordable Japanese Fine Dining (Kaiseki) Meal at Terunari (てるなり) (Not downtown)
5) 2 Michelin-starred Restaurant at Arakicho Tatsuya 荒木町たつや