A Guide to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen Neighborhood
Shinjuku Gyoen is an old favorite for Tokyo residents looking for an extremely central location with a little peace and quiet.
With its central location, Shinjuku Gyoen is the perfect place to live for the young professional who would rather walk or bike than take a train. If you do need to take the train however, there are several different lines within reach, making commuting to and from work simple. Even better, the quiet surroundings are perfect for those with a furry friend to help them explore the beauty of Tokyo!
The park that gives the area its name was actually an old feudal residence during the Tokugawa shogunate, and is famous for its incredible views in the fall and spring. This Imperial garden was finished in 1906, though it wasn’t open to the public until after the war. The area around this beautiful landmark has recently undergone significant new developments, with many beautifully imagined “designer mansions” dotting the skyline.
Shinjuku Gyoen-Mae is a station in and of itself on the Marunouchi Line, one of the most convenient subway lines in Tokyo, offering direct service to such hubs as Otemachi (Tokyo station), Ikebukuro, and Korakuen. A little further walk puts you close to both Shinjuku Sanchome Station (Toei Shinjuku and Fukutoshin subway lines) as well as Shinjuku station itself (JR lines, Keio and Odakyu, Toei Oedo). This makes it perfect for those who may need to travel to different spaces around Tokyo often; after all, in Tokyo all roads lead to Shinjuku.
The Shinjuku Gyoen Neighborhood
If you’re looking for a cozy yet classy experience, Cafe Restaurante Aureole is a beautiful hidden gem on the street directly alongside Shinjuku Gyoen park. I’s vinyl curtains (open in the summer) protect the outdoor seating area, giving it a nice homey feel and letting you enjoy beautiful views of the park’s expansive grounds, even in winter. Their simple Italian food and small plates really let the seasonal delicacies shine through.
If you’re looking for a more meaty, solid lunch staple, Hamburg Will is one of the best of the Japanese senmontens, or single specialty restaurants. Their menu is simple-- 100% Iwate pork patties. Whether in a burger or with one of their three sauces, Hamburg Will is a great favorite of the people around, but be careful-- while they’re open for lunch and dinner, their hours are limited.
If you’re looking for Japanese food, Katsusei (another senmonten) is loved by locals and foodies alike. Their fried pork cutlet ranks among any in Tokyo, and at a low price, this lunch spot is greatly beloved as a holdout of old Tokyo. There are only three things on the menu-- Filet Katsu, Roast (Pork chop) Katsu, and a Daily special. All are 950¥, and all delicious. They have even more limited hours, from 11am to 2pm, so people often line up before it even opens.
Modern apartments in Shinjuku Gyoen
Izakaya Shinjuku Cactus is right next to Shinjuku Gyoenmae station, and is another favorite among both expats and tourists, with a hospitable English-speaking bartender and chef.
Its rock-and-roll music theme make it a unique spot, and despite its limited menu, Owner/Bartender Kento-san makes it one of the most happening places to be for a night out with friends new and old.
Shinjuku Gyoen is also right next to Ni-chōme, the biggest LGBT community in Japan. This means there are no shortage of bars and clubs barely a ten minute walk from the Gyoen area, but just far enough that you can still enjoy a quiet night in.
Donyoku is a great new spot hidden in the third floor of an old apartment building. Whether you’re a part of the LGBT community or not, Donyoku is open to you with a unique accoutrement-- a foot bath! The wonderful warm water and well-designed space is a soothing rest from Shinjuku’s craziness, and the perfect place to have a relaxing drink.
Kabukicho (Credit: fletcherjcm)
If this amalgamation of small bars isn’t quite your scene, Kabukicho is barely a few steps onward, and boasts the liveliest late night scene in Tokyo. There are several shisha bars (a rarity in Tokyo) and Golden Gai, a famous spot with over 200 bars in a tiny, four alley grid. While there’s an incredible array to choose from, look out for Deathmatch in Hell, a metal themed bar near the end of one of the streets. With no cover, free popcorn, and each drink only costing 666¥, this is one of the best deals in Golden Gai, along with the friendliest bartender in the area. Be warned though-- the TVs in the background play old horror movies that can be a bit gory if you’re unprepared.
Stylish apartments in Shinjuku Gyoen
Unfortunately, despite being just a stones throw from one the most beautiful natural parks, jogging is frowned upon in Shinjuku Gyoen. But if you’re more of a walker, there are many enjoyable trails to be found crisscrossing the landscape. While each entrance to the park has a 200¥ fee, it’s still much cheaper than a gym.
If yoga is more your speed, there are many studios dotting the landscape, from the franchise LAVA (Hot Yoga) to more local studios like Yoga Space Arputham, where you can enjoy regular yoga lessons at your leisure.
Monkey Gym is another local, no-frills fitness option, with a 24 hour machine-room. Less experienced gym attendees can try the franchise Anytime Fitness; this is extra convenient for those coming from overseas who already have a membership, as they cross-over internationally.
Because of its proximity to Shinjuku, there are lots of spots nearby to park yourself for some work. When it comes to coworking spaces, The Hub in Shinjuku has you covered, with beautiful sleep spaces that will help you relax and work in comfort.
Just across the park in Sendagaya is the beautiful Ivy Works, a lovely space integrating greenery into their design to give you a breath of fresh air. Check out their terrace on a clear day for an office with a view!
Shinjuku is one of the great hubs of Tokyo, with more than a million people passing through the station every day. If you want to live near the action and still sleep at a decent hour, there’s no better place to do it than Shinjuku Gyoen. With one of ZenHome’s several beautiful properties, you can enjoy the Tokyo life you’ve dreamed of with the rest and relaxation you deserve!