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A Muslim-Friendly Guide To The Hidden Gems Of Shinjuku, Tokyo

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Shasha Dania  •  May 24, 2019

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Tell anyone you’ve booked a trip to Tokyo, and one of the first things they ask you might be whether you’re going to pay a visit to Shinjuku while you’re there! 😊 This neighbourhood is one of the busiest and most popular ones, and its streets are full of ocals and tourists alike at all hours of the day. Credit: GIPHY Located next to the equally-famous Shibuya and Harajuku districts, Shinjuku is well-known for its wide range of shopping options and is one of the shopping havens of the city. But what’s else is there to do in Shinjuku besides shopping till you drop (or taking a day trip out to Mount Fuji)? We’ve got the perfect list of what to do, see, eat, shop, and even where to pray while you’re there! 😁
What to Do & See
While some of Shinjuku's most popular attractions are always worth a visit, there are so many hidden gems that visitors (or even locals!) frequently miss out on. Our list of 8 attractions covers both the popular and the uncommon, with lots of options for families too! 1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Credit: @weidolly on Instagram
 Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the most famous attractions in Tokyo, and it's not hard to understand why. The grounds are a combination of 3 types of gardens that create a beautiful display throughout each season. The Japanese Traditional Garden consists of ponds dotted with smaller islands, bridges, and pavilions that create a tranquil space amongst the wild nature. The French Formal Garden in comparison is more symmetrical in its layout, with rose beds and sycamore groves that line its walkways. And finally, the English Landscape Garden is a sprawling field with an open lawn surrounded by flowering trees that create bright spots of colour year-round. There's also a greenhouse showcasing more tropical plants, and various rest stops scattered throughout the park for you to take a break. P.S. Free wheelchair rentals are available at the entrances and service centre, and coin lockers are available (300 yen for a small, 500 yen for a large) making it easy for families to visit without having to worry about carrying lots of luggage around! Address: 11 Naito-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0014 Opening Hours: 1 Oct to 14 Mar: 9am - 4pm daily (gates close 4.30pm) 15 Mar to 30 Jun: 9am - 5.30pm daily (gates close 6pm) 1 Jul to 20 Aug: 9am - 6.30pm daily (gates close 7pm) 21 Aug to 30 Sep: 9am - 5.30pm daily (gates close 6pm) Admission Fees:  500 yen (Adults), 250 yen (Seniors above 65 years old, and students with valid ID), FOC (Children 15 years and under) Website 2. Hanazono-jinja Shrine
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Hanazono Shrine is one of the lesser known shrines in Tokyo, but it's worth a visit to be able to see the simple architecture and bright red shrine gates without having to worry about large crowds - making it a rare respite of peace in this bustling neighbourhood. The shrine was moved to its current location between 1624-1644, although the current structures were built in 1965 after countless rounds of renovation. Non-Shinto visitors are always invited to visit Shinto shrines and are not required to partake in any rituals or ceremonies that are ongoing ☺️ Address: 5 Chome-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022 Opening Hours: 24 hours daily Admission Fees: FOC 3. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatory
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Shinjuku is known for its towering Skyscraper District, and there's no better place to get a bird's eye view of Tokyo han from the Observatory at the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building ! The observatory consists of 2 towers (the North tower is undergoing renovations from May 2019-Jan 2020, but the South tower remains open to visitors) and was the tallest building in Tokyo until 2007. Depending on the day's weather, you might even be able to see famous landmarks such as Mount FujiTokyo Skytree, and even the Meiji Shrine from the deck! Address: 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 163-8001 Opening Hours: 9.30am - 11pm (last entry 10.30pm) daily, closed on 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, December 29-Jan 3 except Jan 1 Admission Fees: FOC 4. Shinjuku Central Park
Credit: @tokyoexperiences on Instagram
Shinjuku may be known for being busy and active around-the-clock, but that doesn't mean you can't take a moment to just sit back and soak in the atmosphere as you take a break. Shinjuku Central Park is the perfect place to take a breather, right at the edge of its skyscraper district and nearby Tokyo City Hall. The park contains a playground and miniature waterfall, and many office workers from the surrounding buildings bring along their bento boxes to sit and eat lunch amongst the trees. There's even a small shrine (Kumano Shrine ) at a corner of the park that you can visit! P.S. The park is sometimes home to a street market during the weekends, so make sure to pop by if you're there to check out secondhand or thrifted bargains from locals! 😉 Address: 2 Chome-11 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023 Opening Hours: 24 hours daily Admission Fees: FOC 5. Tokyo Toy Museum
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Parents and kids alike will love this renovated elementary school, which contains both toy displays as well as interactive exhibits and rooms for kids to explore. Run by the Japan Good Toy Association, some of the rooms within the museum include the Wooden Baby Room (designed for kids age 2 and under, including a slide and crawl tunnel), Toy Square Yellow (toys that show off scientific concepts), and the Good Toy Gallery (toys accredited with helping children's development). There are even craft workshops available for the whole family to enjoy! Address: 4 Chome-20 Yotsuya, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0004 Opening Hours: 10am - 4pm (Fri-Wed, last admission 3.30pm), closed on Thursdays and special holidays Admission Fees: 800 yen (Adults), 500 yen (Seniors 65 years and above, and children above 6 months), 1200 yen (Adult+Child pair tiocket) Website (English-version PDF) | Instagram 6. Samurai Museum
Credit: @samuraimuseumtokyo on Instagram
 Located in the modern district of Kabukicho, this hidden gem of a museum is dedicated to showcasing and educating visitors about the famous samurai. Real samurai armour and katana (Japanese swords) are displayed, and the museum admission even entitles you to try on and take a photo with a samurai helmet and battle coat! 🤩 A 15-minute sword show also takes place every hour between 2pm-5pm (4 shows total), and you can sign up for additional paid classes on calligraphy to paint your own pieces to bring home. Address: 2-25-6 Kabukicho | Eiwa Dairoku Bldg 1FShinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021 Opening Hours: 10.30am - 9pm (Mon-Thurs, last entry 8.30pm) 10.30am - 8pm (Fri-Sun, last entry 7.30pm) Admission Fees: 1,900 yen (Adults), 800 yen (Children between 3-12 years old), FOC (Children below 3 years old) Website | Facebook | Instagram 7. Shinjuku Historical Museum
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History buffs will also need to pay a visit to the Shinjuku Historical Museum  before they leave this neighbourhood. Though not as big or well-known as the Edo-Tokyo Museum, this small museum is an underrated wonder of the neighbourhood displaying artefacts dating from 12,000 B.C. to the early post-World War 2 era. The exhibits are a glimpse into the everyday life of Shinjuku and its residents - you can see an actual Edo-era bus carriage, miniature recreations of what houses and rooms would have been like, and so much more! #HHWT Tip: While the display plaques are not in English, you can request for an English-language guidebook from the staff! Address: 12-16 Yotsuya Saneicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0008 Opening Hours: 9.30am - 5.30pm (last entry 5pm), closes on the 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, and between 29 Dec-3 Jan Admission Fees: 300 yen (Adults), 100 yen (Children) 8. Ninja Trick House
Credit: @discoinjapan on Instagram
If you've paid a visit to the samurai, then you've got to visit the ninja too just to round up your traditional Japanese experience! 😁 The Ninja Trick House is an interactive experience that brings you closer to those daring tales of ninjas hiding in the shadows. You can experience throwing shuriken (handheld throwing weapons), learn what's the difference between a samurai and ninja, and take photographs with a real-life ninja 😉 P.S. Do note that there is no elevator, and the facility is located on the 4th floor. Address: 2-28-13 Kabuki-cho | Daiichi Wako Bld. 4F , Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opening Hours: 10am - 6.30pm (Thurs-Mon, last entry 6pm), closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays Reservations: Online form or email [email protected] for more information Admission Fees: 1,500 yen (All visitors above 3 years of age), FOC (children 3 years old or younger) Website | Facebook
Where to shop
It wouldn't be a proper guide to Shinjuku without a shopping section! While there are many smaller shops dotting the streets, these are 3 of the largest shops in the area so that you know where the best deals are even if you're there for only a day or two 😆 1. Don Quijote
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Don Quijote is Japan's biggest discount stores, and trust us when we say you can find outlets scattered all over Tokyo. The Shinjuku Higashiguchi outlet is actually the biggest one in the city, making it a type of attraction all on its own! This massive multi-storey shop sells everything from drinks and snacks, to gag gifts and affordable souvenirs. You can make duty-free purchases here too, as well as have them delivered directly to the airport for you! 🤩 Address: 1-16-5 Kabuki-cho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo,JAPAN, 160-0021 Opening Hours: 24 hours daily 2. BICQLO
Credit: @yk79 on Instagram
Individually, BicCamera and Uniqlo  are two of the other most visible and ubiquitous chain stores in Japan. BicCamera sells a wide range of electronics, household appliances, and smartphone accessories, whereas Uniqlo has become famous worldwide for its simple and affordable, yet stylish clothing designs. The amazing BICQLO building in Shinjuku combines both stores into an impressive 9 storeys, meaning you'll be able to buy just about anything you need to complete your trip in just one place! Address: 〒160-0022 3-29-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm daily (Hours may be affected by national holidays) 3. Tower Records
Credit: @matto.lausir on Instagram Music lovers are bound to stop by a Tower Records if they're ever in Tokyo. Japan, in general, is still a huge market for CDs and other analogue music formats - which is why huge stores like Tower Records can still thrive! Tower Records is also a haven for overseas fans who can't find merchandise or discs of their favourite Japanese groups and singers in their own country, and the Shinjuku branch is particularly special as it has a whole floor dedicated to vinyl records! Over 70,000 records are located and sold on the 10th floor of this massive building making it a must-visit for hardcore vinyl fans! Address: 3 Chome−37−1 | Flags 7~10F, Shinjuku City, 160-0022 Tokyo Opening Hours: 11am - 11pm daily
What to eat
These are the top 4 local halal eateries you can't miss while you're in the area! Check out our guide to halal Japanese food in Tokyo for more ideas on where to grab your next meal while you're in this city! 😋 1. Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
shinjuku gyoen ramen ouka
This is one of the more unique ramen eateries in Tokyo as their ramen is served with a bowl of rice, which you have to eat with the remaining broth from your bowl of ramen! Also, the serving is pretty huge (you can even upsize your ramen to large) AND it comes with grilled chicken and yakitori as part of the set. We definitely recommend visiting this place on an empty tummy or you can opt for a smaller portion if you’re not feeling exceptionally hungry! Halal Status: Muslim-Owned Address: 1 Chome-11-7 Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022 Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday – 2pm to 10pm Friday – 6pm to 10pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday – 1pm to 10pm 2. Menya Kaijin
 Want a change from the typical chicken/miso broth? Then you’ll have to visit Menya Kaijin and try their seafood ramen! The fish-and-seafood-based broth is clear & really light but still really yummy. Plus it’s also located in the heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku, which is super convenient to get to!   Halal Status: Seafood options available. Since this is not a halal-certified restaurant, we advise our readers to dine at your own discretion. Also, do let the waiter know in advance that you do not want the chicken ball to be added to your soup! Address: 3-35-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 11am to 3pm, 4.30pm to 11.30pm Saturday and PH – 11am to 11.30pm Sunday – 11am – 11pm 3. CoCo Ichibanya Shinjuku Kabukicho
Now you can enjoy halal Japanese curry at the first ever halal-certified CoCo Ichibanya Curry House outlets in Akihabara and Shinjuku! The Shinjuku outlet just opened in 2018, and has received halal certification from the Nippon Asia Halal Association (NAHA). Choose from spice levels ranging from non-spicy all the way to 10, and savour the rich curry topped with chicken cutlet, sliced beef, seafood, or even chicken sausage! Halal Status: Halal-certified Address: 1-19-3 Kabukicho | Kabukicho Shotengai Shinkou Kumiai Building B1F, Kabukicho, Shinjuku, 160-0021 Tokyo Opening Hours: 11am - 10.30pm (last order 10pm) daily 4. YOSHIYA
Credit: @azfarenaahmad on Instagram
 Yoshiya specialises in halal washoku (traditional Japanese dishes) and they also serve seasonal cuisine from Saga prefecture. Their Shinjuku outlet is a small one tucked away within the Shinjuku metro station that can be a bit difficult to locate at first, but we think it's more than worth the effort! Here's where you can get halal tempura, soba, and chicken katsu sets without having to worry! Halal Status: Restaurant is not halal-certified and serves alcoholic beverages, but offers a halal-certified menu (certified by Kyoto Halal Council). Address: Shinjuku Metro Restaurant Floor B1F, 1-1-2 Nishishinjuku , Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opening Hours: 11am – 10.30pm (last order 10pm) daily Website
Where to pray
Last but definitely not least, these are the 3 super convenient prayer spots to note down before you make a trip down to the neighbourhood 😄 1. Masjid Al Ikhlas
Credit: @fufuwuwu on Instagram
Shinjuku's very own Masjid Al-Ikhlas is actually just a short walk from the halal CoCo Ichibanya outlet - so now you'll know where to go to grab a bite after your prayers! Though the space may be small, this masjid is an important focal point for the local Muslim community and you'll feel right at home once you step in 😊 Address: 1 Chome-3-10 Kabukicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0021 Opening Hours: 24 hours daily Facebook 2. Takashimaya Shinjuku
Credit: Akihiro Shugo on Facebook
 Takashimaya is a huge department store chain in Japan, and they set up a prayer room in the Shinjuku outlet specifically to cater to the growing number of Muslim tourists to the city and neighbourhood. Located on the 11th floor of the building, the room is conveniently located next to the washrooms and there's also a wudhu (ablution) area within the room itself. Do remember to bring along your own prayer mats and prayer garments as they are not provided! Prayer Facilities: Qiblat, wudhu area, and a partition into men's and women's sections. Address: 11F, -24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8580 Opening Hours: 10am - 8pm (Sun-Thurs), 10am - 8.30pm (Fri-Sat) 3. LAOX Shinjuku
Credit: Shahril Mutadho on Facebook
LAOX is another chain of duty-free departmental stores, and now that their Shinjuku outlet includes a prayer space for Muslim visitors it's just another reason to pay them a visit! The women's prayer room is on the 6th floor, whereas the men's prayer room is on the 7th floor. Wudhu can be taken at the nearby washrooms, and do take note that the space is only big enough for 2 people at a time. Prayer Facilities:  Prayer mats are provided. Do remember to bring your own prayer garments and double-check the Qiblat on your phone or compass before praying. Address: 6F and 7F, MetLife・JTB Shinjukusquare Building 5F-8F, 3-1-20 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opening Hours: 10am - 8pm daily We hope that this guide helps you discover even more of this amazing neighbourhood, and gets you started on planning an awesome Tokyo trip! Check out our Asakusa neighbourhood guide to discover more hidden gems in popular neighbourhoods, and of course don't forget all of our other Japan travel guides too! 😊