Shinjuku is also commonly used to refer to the entire area surrounding Shinjuku Station. The southern half of this area and of the station in fact belong to Yoyogi and Sendagaya districts of the neighboring Shibuya ward.
Shinjuku office buildings
Man with guitar immediately south of the Shinjuku JR Station, a popular busking location
The current city of Shinjuku grew out of several separate towns and villages, which have retained some distinctions despite growing together as part of the Tokyo metropolis.
East Shinjuku (or administratively called Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku): The area east of Shinjuku Station and surrounding Shinjuku-sanchome Station, historically known as Naito-Shinjuku, houses the city hall and the flagship Isetan department store, as well as several smaller areas of interest:
Golden Gai: An area of tiny shanty-style bars and clubs. Musicians, artists, journalists, actors and directors gather here, and the ramshackle walls of the bars are literally plastered with film posters.
Totsuka: The northern portion of Shinjuku surrounding Takadanobaba Station and Waseda University, today commonly referred to as Nishi-Waseda. The Takadanobaba area is a major residential and nightlife area for students, as well as a commuter hub.
Yotsuya: An upscale residential and commercial district in the southeast corner of Shinjuku. The Arakichō area is well known for its many small restaurants, bars, and izakaya.
"Shinjuku" is often popularly understood to mean the entire area surrounding Shinjuku Station, but the Shinjuku Southern Terrace complex and the areas to the west of the station and south of Kōshū Kaidō are part of the Yoyogi and Sendagaya districts of the special ward of Shibuya.
Naturally, most of Shinjuku is occupied by the Yodobashi Plateau, the most elevated portion of which extends through most of the Shinjuku Station area. The Kanda River runs through the Ochiai and Totsuka areas near sea level, but the Toshima Plateau also builds elevation in the northern extremities of Totsuka and Ochiai. The highest point in Shinjuku is Hakone-san in Toyama Park, 44.6 m above sea level.
In 1634, during the Edo period, as the outer moat of the Edo Castle was built, a number of temples and shrines moved to the Yotsuya area on the western edge of Shinjuku. In 1698, Naitō-Shinjuku had developed as a new (shin) station (shuku or juku) on the Kōshū Kaidō, one of the major highways of that era. Naitō was the family name of a daimyō whose mansion stood in the area; his land is now a public park, the Shinjuku Gyoen. In 1898, the Yodobashi Water Purification Plant, the city's first modern water treatment facility, was built in the area that is now between the park and the train station.
In 1920, the town of Naitō-Shinjuku, which comprised large parts of present-day Shinjuku (the neighbourhood, not the municipality), parts of Nishi-Shinjuku and Kabukichō was integrated into Tokyo City. Shinjuku began to develop into its current form after the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923, since the seismically stable area largely escaped the devastation. Consequently, West Shinjuku is one of the few areas in Tokyo with many skyscrapers.
The Tokyo air raids from May to August 1945 destroyed almost 90% of the buildings in the area in and around Shinjuku Station. The pre-war form of Shinjuku, and the rest of Tokyo, for that matter, was retained after the war because the roads and rails, damaged as they were, remained, and these formed the heart of the Shinjuku in the post-war construction. Only in Kabuki-cho was a grand reconstruction plan put into action.
The present ward was established on March 15, 1947 with the merger of the former wards of Yotsuya, Ushigome, and Yodobashi. It served as part of the athletics 50 km walk and marathon course during the 1964 Summer Olympics. In the 1970s, the Yodobashi Water Purification Plant closed and was replaced by skyscrapers.
In 1991, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government moved from the Marunouchi district of Chiyoda to the current building in Shinjuku. (The Tokyo International Forum stands on the former site vacated by the government.)
Shinjuku is also the location of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The governor's office, the metropolitan assembly chamber, and all administrative head offices are located in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Technically, Shinjuku is therefore the prefectural capital of Tokyo; but according to a statement by the governor's office, Tokyo (the – as administrative unit: former – Tokyo City, the area of today's 23 special wards collectively) can usually be considered the capital of Tokyo (prefecture/"Metropolis") for geographical purposes. The Geographical Survey Institute (Kokudo Chiriin) names Tōkyō (the city) as capital of Tōkyō-to (the prefecture/"Metropolis").
Shinjuku is a major urban transit hub. Shinjuku Station sees an estimated 3.64 million passengers pass through each day, making it the busiest station in the world. It houses interchanges to three subway lines and three privately owned commuter lines, as well as several JR lines.
A list of railway lines passing through and stations located within Shinjuku includes:
Shinjuku operates several public libraries, including the Central Library (with the Children's Library), the Yotsuya Library, the Tsurumaki Library, Tsunohazu Library, the Nishi-Ochiai Library, the Toyama Library, the Kita-Shinjuku Library, the Okubo Library, and the Nakamachi Library. In addition there is a branch library, Branch Library of Central Library in the City Office, located in the city office.
There are several major hospitals located within the city limits.
Keio University Hospital
Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine
Tokyo Yamate Medical Center
Tokyo Medical University Hospital
Tokyo Women's Medical University Hospital
Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Treatment Corporation Ohkubo Hospital
National Printing Bureau Banknote and Postage Stamp Museum
National Museum of Nature and Science, Shinjuku Branch