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Shinjuku Neighborhood, Shinjuku

Metro: Shinjuku's insider take:

Shinjuku is a metropolis within a megalopolis, an elevated neighborhood on top of the world's busiest station and Tokyo's western hub. This is modern Tokyo at its most unapologetic: a fast-paced, neon-branded, mind-boggling labyrinth of shops, high-rise malls, and clubs (some of which are a bit dodgy). Take a wrong turn and you could easily end up in edgy Kabuki-cho, the red-light district; the black-suited yakuza men outside clubs named Vanity or Goddess are a sure sign that you've strayed into Tokyo's darker side. The high-rise area around Nishi (west) Shinjuku is where you'll find the cathedral-like headquarters of the Tokyo government and one of the city's best hotels, the Park Hyatt. But the modern quickly fades to the grit and back-alley vibe of early postwar Tokyo in Golden Gai, which houses a warren of cubbyhole bars for live music and light snacks. Tokyo's gay district, Shinjuku Ni-Chome, has a decidedly international flair, with Euro-centric bars and clubs and the New York–inspired Brooklyn Parlor, as well as the legendary jazz favorite Pit Inn. Shinjuku also has one of Tokyo's most impressive public parks, Shinjuku Gyoen, which is popular during cherry blossom season in early April and well worth the small entrance fee.—Updated by Rebecca Willa Davis

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