Embracing the Mystery of Kabuki-cho

Photo: Daniel Ramirez on Flickr

Embracing the Mystery of Kabuki-cho

Fuad Olajuwon

Living in the Tokyo metropolis, there’s no end to the number of things you can do. Such is the climate of this city, as the streets emanate with years of effort, endurance, and a little essence of gambatte kudasai. If living in the city invigorates you, then it’s a perfect harmony. Such an idea adds to the character of Shinjuku. As swarms of people walking to and fro throughout the area, life in Shinjuku seems to be in constant motion. With all of the hustle and bustle, it’s as if there is no place to let your hair down or kick your feet up on the coffee table. What do people in this part of the city do on any given evening? It can’t be all business, right? That’s where Kabukicho comes in.


Located right in the heart of downtown Shinjuku, Kabukicho is a famous (or infamous) area, rife with shops, eateries, and other forms of entertainment. The name means kabuki town, but is also colloquially known as the “The Street that Never Sleeps". The district gets its name from a kabuki theater that was supposed to open in the middle 20th century, but never panned out. However, the name “Kabukicho” remained and is a signature part of the Shinjuku landscape.


About a 10-minute walk from the Shinjuku JR East exit, and right next to Seibu-Shinjuku Station, accessibility is the name of the game when you’re looking to hang out in Kabukicho. As you saunter around the place, you’ll be taken aback by all of the sights and sounds whirling by the same time. Nighttime is when it’s most alive, as curious tourists, hungry salarymen, and club promoters bob and weave their way past each other in a synchronized trance. Endless neon signs advertise one thing after another. This ambiance is what’s most alluring about Kabukicho. It draws you in like a moth to a flame. You could visit the place for years, and barely see half of it!


Some of the marquee spots in the district are the Robot Restaurant and the Toho Cinema. If you’re a first-timer, be sure to check out one of these venues. The Robot Restaurant is a fan favorite, as tons of natives and tourists alike file in to see some of the most popular shows and festivities put on by the friendly staff. Although not the cheapest option (as it is 8,000 yen for the show ticket and another 1,000 yen for the food), it’s worth its weight in gold, as you’ll witness an unforgettable performance.


Next up is the Toho Cinema. While there are several cinemas throughout Japan, this one is significant due to the large Godzilla poking out from the side of the building. Before catching a signature blockbuster, go up to the top floor and take a picture alongside a world-renown figure. Movie buffs should have little to no worries, as most Western films keep the original audio, but have Japanese subtitles. After a long day of walking around Kabukicho, you can’t go wrong with ending the evening at one of these establishments.

Whether you’re traveling solo, or with a merry band of friends, look no further than Kabukicho. Prepare to get lost in the vibrancy of the district, as it embraces the Tokyo twilight. Even if you’re there for a brief moment, you’re welcomed in with open arms and convivial delights. There’s no place like Kabukicho. Experiencing it for yourself will convince you of that.