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Shinjuku-ku (新宿区) is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Japan. Today Shinjuku is a major commercial and government hub as well as home to the busiest train station in the world. With Shinjuku Station at its core, Shinjuku is home to numerous department stores, specialty shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and theaters. The population, as reported in a 2008 census, is estimated to be 312,418 with the highest number of registered foreign nationals of any of Tokyo’s wards at 29,353, from any of 107 different nationalities.



Shinjuku first came to prominence for its location within Tokyo during the Edo period when the outer moat of Edo Castle was built in 1634. The temples and shrines located in this area were moved to Yotsuya in what is now Shinjuku. The name of the region was given in 1698 when the Naito Shinjuku (Shinjuku meaning “new station”) rose to prominence as a major hub for the Koshu Kaido, one of the era’s major roadways. Naito himself was a Daimyo who owned a mansion in the area that is now the Shinjuku Gyoen public park.

What is today known as Shinjuku developed shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Shinjuku was not affected greatly by the earthquake and as a result the area became a target for some of the city’s more ambitious building projects.

The 1945 Tokyo Air Raids destroyed much of Shinjuku during World War II, but was soon rebuilt and on March 15, 1947 was designated a special ward of Tokyo when the former wards of Yotsuya, Yodobashi, and Ushigome were merged. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government currently operates from Shinjuku, having left its old site in Chiyoda in 1991.

Regions in Shinjuku

Shinjuku is home to many locations of both commercial and administrative interest. The Ministry of Defense operates out of a eastern site in Ichigaya for example. Additional districts and regions within Shinjuku include:

  • Kabukicho – A well known red-light district with a number of bars, restaurants, and questionable locations known for prostitution.
  • Golden Gai – A small district with a large number of bars and clubs known as a popular gathering place for musicians, actors, and other culturally significant figures.
  • Okubu – A well known and highly populated district of Korean immigrants to Tokyo.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen – A large 3.5 km park with multiple European and Japanese style gardens. The 100th anniversary of Shinjuku Gyoen was held in 2006.
  • Shinjuku Chuo Koen – This large park alongside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings is often frequented by businessmen on lunch breaks and children on the weekends.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government – Build in 1991,p the Tokyo Tocho building is the centerpiece of Shinjuku at 202 meters tall and is home to a 45th floor observation deck.

Shinjuku Citizen of Notes

Well known citizens of Shinjuku include actors Bando Tsumasaburo, Tetsuro Tamba, and Koji Yamamoto, Singers Ami Onuki, Yumi Yoshimura, and Anna Tsuchiya, and authors Yukio Mishima and Natsume Soseki among many others.

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