Find Them at the South End of Shinjuku Station
Some people call Shinjuku Station a maze in and of itself, but if you just direct yourself towards the southern exits, you'll find your way to Mylord (pronounced "me lord") and Flags no problem. When the plan is to spend your time in Shinjuku just like every local in the area, slip through the station crowds, swipe your Suica at the turnstile, and get shopping! Treasure troves of fashion, souvenirs of all kinds, one of a kind finds, and even a solid selection of lunch options await.
These two neighboring malls have totally different setups, with entirely different store selections, so looping through both Mylord and Flags doesn't get repetitive. In fact, they're both owned by Odakyu Railways, which means the shopping centers are made to complement each other (and together with the nearby Odakyu department store, they all have occasional linked promotions and sales).
First Things First: It's Lunch Time at Mylord!
Stroll down the mosaicked road (モザイク通り) that connects Shinjuku Station's west and south exits, and along the way you'll see just a few of the 120+ shops and restaurants that make up Shinjuku Mylord. There are 9 floors packed with things from clothes and cosmetics to gifts and variety goods, but we recommend you stop in for one of the awesome lunch spots.
Mr. FARMER: A "Vegetable Cafe" Perfect for the Health-Conscious, Vegan, and Gluten-Intolerant Eaters Among Us
Inspired by the trendy, healthy, and delicious food he found in California and the Pacific Northwest, Akira Watanabe opened the first location of this series of Tokyo eateries with a mission to share the produce of local farmers with a wider audience. Their official motto is the slightly confusing "beauty and health made from the food," but one look at their menu and it's easy to get the picture: this place is the perfect destination when you've been eating just a little too much oily tempura and katsu-don lately. They make colorful plates full of healthy veggies, and offer quite a few meals that cater to everyone from vegetarians to body-building protein addicts.
The Vegan Burger
with Avocado & Teriyaki Sauce
Moist and surrounded by fresh veggies, creamy avocado, and a satisfying glaze of teriyaki sauce, this vegan burger is just about all you could want from a veggie patty. Banish your sad memories of past sub-par vegetarian burger patties, we think you'll enjoy this well-textured and well-sauced version.
with Avocado & Smoked Salmon Trout
This dish might not be vegetarian, but just the thought of the smokey fish, creamy avocado, and perfectly poached eggs coming together in one dish... it's making our mouths water. It's a creamy breakfast gem, that will leave you feeling full but not overly heavy and sluggish afterwards.
Mr. FARMER Shinjuku
Shinjuku Mylord, Mosaic Street
1-1-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 - 23:00 (L.O. 22:00)
Official Website (en)
Mensho San Francisco: Ramen That Has Traveled the World
Ramen already has a history of crossing international borders, since it's really a Chinese dish that found a welcoming home in Japanese cuisine. These days, it's gone global, and San Francisco-based ramen chain Mensho has earned itself a good enough reputation (in Michelin guides and more!) to compete with the best in Tokyo.
With the variety of influences at work in the restaurant, it's no surprise that some of their most popular bowls of ramen are somewhat rare or unique! (And their springy noodles might just have the added quinoa to thank for that satisfying bite.)
Matcha Paitan Ramen (抹茶白湯らぁめん)
Paitan (白湯) ramen is a variety made with chicken broth, simmered for so long that the broth takes on a lush creamy, cloudy texture. Now, Mensho's paitan ramen is already good, but they decided to take it to the next level by steeping matcha inside, coming out with the bright green creation that is matcha ramen. Chewy noodles are complemented by a broth with surprisingly strong green tea flavor! When you finish slurping up the last drop of soup, instead of that heavy stomach-full-of-ramen feeling, you might just be left thinking you'd had a nice cup of tea.
A5 Wagyu Beef Ramen (A5黒毛和牛醤油らぁめん)
Our other recommendation at Mensho is only available after 5 pm, but this ramen made with the highest grade Japanese Black cattle beef is a perfect way to treat yourself to a slightly luxe meal that won't break the bank (at 1,950 yen). The delicate slice of rare beef covering the bowl is cooked gently by the steaming broth, and it just about melts in your mouth.
Asahizushi Sohonten: Sushi Made to Order, One Piece at a Time
Conveyor belts are a novelty, but the best sushi is carefully made by hand and placed directly in front of you. Head to Mylord's Azahizushi Sohonten for a taste of traditional "edomaezushi" (江戸前寿司), or Edo-style sushi. The shop is something of a local chain, with 40 locations in the Tokyo area, and their mission is to make this kind of high-quality sushi easily accessible and affordable. So drop in for a taste of their menu full of sushi, and more.
The restaurant has tables as well, but the best seat in the house is in front of the sushi chef. Take a seat in one of the comfortable chairs along the counter, and watch the chef at work.
Handmade Nigiri Sushi
You'll definitely find plenty of sushi with wide appeal at the restaurant, and salmon and tuna (fatty and lean) feature in lots of sets, but this might be a great chance to try a well-made piece of sushi topped with something totally new. Have you tried ikura (salmon egg) sushi? How about mackerel? Or even matsutake mushroom?
Of course, if you're looking for a slightly quicker and simpler experience, you could always get one of their bowls of chirashizushi, where all the fish and other toppings are simply arranged on top of a bed of rice!
Shimotakaido Asahizushi Sohonten
Shinjuku Mylord, 8th Floor
Hours: 11:00 - 23:00 (L.O. 22:30)
Official Website (jp)
Birthday Bar: Grab a Last Snack, or a Few Souvenirs, Before You Leave Mylord
Unless you're planning on taking something back home to prepare immediately, Birthday Bar might not be the best place for a full lunch break, but it is a great place to grab a fun Japanese snack and maybe a gift or two for friends back home. Might we recommend the matcha-caramel coated popcorn to munch on? Or some cute kitchenware as a souvenir?
Next Stop: Get That City Slicker Look, Shop Till You Drop at Flags
Flags has a different vibe from Mylord, with a carefully curated selection of bigger shops. You're more likely to get drawn into just a store or two, absorbed with browsing the varied selections for a while, than to pop into dozens of them. In fact, that's exactly what we did, perusing a handful of shops at a more relaxed pace. So take a look at a little of what Flags has to offer.
Tower Records: This Music Maven Wonderland is Still Holding Out in Japan!
Tower Records may be gone from the United States, but it's still a popular destination for music lovers in Japan, and a pilgrimage spot for international travelers. This huge shop takes up four entire floors of the Flags shopping center, each packed with music and media perfect for fans of all kinds. Looking for a classic Beatles album complete with Japanese obi? You got it. How about the latest J-Pop single, or K-Pop album? Of course! There are shelves and shelves of anime soundtracks, Japanese drama DVDs, and just about anything else.
Perhaps the true gem in this treasure trove of music, however, is the floor devoted entirely to vinyl records. It's a mix of used and new records, which means the selection includes classic rock, recent releases from Japan and the rest of the world, vintage Japanese pop, jazz and classical records, and a little bit of everything else. If you're a vinyl addict who's already combed through all your local vinyl offerings, you might just end up spending half a day here.
Take a Moment for Music Appreciation
Nobody on the JAPANKURU team is a record collector, but we still spent quite a long time on this floor, thanks to the fantastic vinyl listening stations. If you want a taste of that high-quality music but don't have space in your suitcase for a handful of records and the record player itself (although they do sell a compact portable player), you can sample the sounds right in the store. Maybe you'll find a new appreciation for 80's Japanese singer-songwriters, or some more recent bops.
Learn About "Lives", and the Japanese Concert-Going Experience
There's no doubt about it - going to a show in Asia just isn't the same as in the West. Concert-viewing culture is just a little different here! But Tower Records sells all the gear you might need for a Japanese show, plus more. We particularly liked their custom omamori (お守り) good luck charms. Buy this one for better luck grabbing a good seat or spot at the next concert you attend!
New Era: Known for Making Caps for MLB, and Just About Everything Else
In business since 1920, New Era has been the exclusive producer of Major League Baseball caps for decades now. But these days they've branched out, and a trip to this Shinjuku location will get you much more than a Yankees cap or two. If you appreciate a good baseball cap, check out their Tokyo exclusives and Japanese brand tie-ups.
Look out for their Shinjuku models (or the many with Japanese game characters on them), and try on a Tokyo cap or two.
If you are a baseball lover, you might appreciate the hats with Japanese baseball teams as well! Of course, if caps just aren't your thing, they've got racks of shirts and shelves of backpacks to check out as well.
Loveless: Sleek Japanese Style
Working with the keywords "mode" and "clean," Loveless is what the Japanese call a "select shop," or a store that mostly focuses on a specially selected and curated collection of items from other brands. Loveless makes some of its own items, mainly clothes and accessories for both men and women, and supplements them with pieces from Japanese and international designers. The store blends Japanese style, and international appeal.
As we head into fall, the chic leather jackets and classy dresses might give you an idea of the Loveless image.
If you're a bit of an anime nerd with a serious sense of style, you might just get into the store's frequent collaboration products. When we visited, Loveless was finishing up with a limited line of products featuring the latest season of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Next, they're coming out with some items that really raise the bar when it comes to fashionable Attack on Titan merchandise.
Not Done with Shinjuku Yet?