Shinjuku, home to many corporations and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, is also a shopping, dining, and entertainment district in central Tokyo. Along with Ginza and Shibuya, Shinjuku is one of the largest retail districts in Japan. The hub for all this activity is Shinjuku Station. the world’s busiest terminal station with seven JR lines and three subway lines accommodating over 3.5 million travelers per day. Skyscrapers over 100 meters tall are scattered around this incredibly busy station.
The Chinese character for “Shinjuku” means “new inn” which reminds us that the city’s roots lie in the early Edo period (1603-1868) where it served as a temporary resting place for travelers. With the Meiji Restoration and toppling of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868, Shinjuku was transformed into a lively entertainment district. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), the railroad came to Japan and the center of business and cultural activity gradually shifted to the area surrounding Shinjuku station.
Following WW2 and the formation of the post-war black market, Kabukicho was established as part of a reconstruction project, and the downtown area developed even more. Starting in the early 1960s, the era of high-speed economic growth saw the rapid development of the area surrounding Shinjuku Station. Many business offices sprung up around the west side of the station. The Keio Plaza Hotel was built in 1971 followed quickly by the establishment of prestigious department stores. By early 1990, Shinjuku was firmly established as an office market and many skyscrapers were built around that time. Shinjuku is now a business, commercial, and entertainment center that never sleeps.
While the city is such a glittering place, Shinjuku has an abundance of natural and cultural sites that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in the heart of a major city. The area is home, for example, to Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks, and a variety of other historical places that make the city a delight for tourists.