Note: Unfortunately, this place closed down in 2019…
What’s up nerds and nerdettes? Today we will be taking a look at one of Tokyo’s latest attractions, VR Zone Shinjuku. This virtual reality theme park opened at the start of summer 2017 and is now one of the hottest spots in town. Located in Kabukicho near the infamous Robot Restaurant, this futuristic wonderland is a sight to behold. If you’re a gamer or otherwise interested in checking out some of the cutting edge virtual reality, I highly suggest budgeting some time for a visit.
One-day tickets for VR Zone Shinjuku can be purchased for 4,400 yen. You can reserve tickets on either the VR Zone Shinjuku website or via a special app. The website also provides additional information available in both English and Japanese. Visitors basically pay for the opportunity to sample up to four attractions. You’ll receive a red, yellow, blue, and green ticket which can be used on one of the following experiences. Since the tickets are divided by genre, this unfortunately means you’ll need to make some hard decisions; choose wisely!
In addition to the four-color tickets, there are also other experiences that you can partake in such as: a rock climbing attraction, a panic room, and a Niagara waterfall drop. You can pay for these on site or sacrifice one of your colored tickets but I would recommend you not do so. The added attractions only cost an additional 1,000 yen; it’s not like you can just go get more of the red, yellow, blue, or green tickets.
Please note — as of this writing, VR Zone Shinjuku has just recently opened. Expect long lines!! If you are in a rush and have extra cash to squander, it might be worth it to consider opting for an express ticket that lets you skip the line. Given wait times much like Disneyland for the most popular attractions, the express ticket can be easily worth its weight in gold.
For the time being VR Zone Shinjuku is very, very new and from what I can gather the space is planning to add more attractions over time. To the extent that is humanly possible, I’ll try to update this guide when and where I can but bear with me here.
How to Get There
As implied by the name, VR Zone Shinjuku is located about five minutes walk from the JR Shinjuku station. There are 101 ways to get to Shinjuku and the fastest route will depend on where you’re coming from. Be sure to refer to our friend Jorudan or a similar service for the best connections and times. That said, for most, the Yamanote Line will be the most practical.
Once there, you’re going to want to make your way to the East Exit. Now, be prepared to get lost! The Shinjuku Station complex is a massive structure that can bewilder even those who transit there daily. Try to get outside as soon as you can; the added context of the high rise buildings will help you navigate.
VR Zone Shinjuku is located in Kabukicho which also just happens to be Japan’s biggest red light district. While you should expect the usual sleazy ambiance, you should not feel unsafe at all! Despite Shinjuku’s seedy nature, the area features numerous celebrated restaurants and well-established bars. Just be sure to ignore any touts and you’ll be golden.
Entering into VR Zone Shinjuku
When you purchase a ticket you will need to select a convenient entrance time. This measure allows the VR Zone to monitor and control the flow of people entering the venue. Keep in mind that you will not be allowed to enter the venue until 15 minutes before your designated time. Once inside, you can stay as long as you wish. Should you arrive early, I suggest you kill some time visiting Shinjuku’s famous Godzilla statue that is located nearby.
When your specified check-in time arrives, you will pick up your tickets to the right of the entry gates. Regardless of whether you booked on the website or via the app, you’ll need to show a QR code that will be scanned by the staff confirming your reservation. Be sure to have this code on hand and take a backup screen-shot just in case. The very last thing you want to do is show up and not be able to get in!
With tickets in hand, you are finally free to explore. The interior attractions are situated around the giant center column shown above and are located on both the entry and second floors. Be sure not to miss the chic Glampers cafe on the right-hand side after entering. This cafe features some delectable treats and make use of cutting edge projection mapping to create the illusion of being in nature.
What to Try at VR Zone Shinjuku
As previously noted, you will need to make some tough decisions regarding which attractions you want to experience. In a perfect world wait time would not be a factor; but alas, VR lines can often be up to 90 minutes long for some experiences. If you’re in a rush, I cannot more highly recommend paying the extra fee for the express pass. This is not the time you want to be penny wise and time foolish!
Of all the attractions, one of the worst time offenders is the yellow ticket’s Mario Kart Arcade GP VR pictured above. If you’re planning on giving this a try, prepare to wait upwards of two hours for your experience. While some of the other experiences have more niche appeals, EVERYONE loves Mario Kart and wants to try it in VR. If you’re not in the mood to wait, you’d do well to opt for either of the other options instead.
Mario Kart aside, if you’re a fan of anime and manga, I suggest you start first with the blue ticket. This is arguably the hardest of all the decisions you’ll need to make so it’s best to get it out of the way first. You’ll need to choose between three legendary universes, Dragonball, Gundam and Evangelion. After fretting over the decision for some time, I find that it’s best to just go with your first gut instinct on this one.
I ultimately opted for Dragon Ball since I’ve always wanted to be able to do the Kamehameha since I was a kid. That said, I am also itching to give the Evangelion one a try too since I’ve also always wanted to see what it’s like to be behind the controls of a giant unit like EVA-01. Truth be told, when it comes to the blue ticket you really can’t go wrong.
In a nutshell, each of the tickets has its own novel theme. For example, the red ticket features a collection of terrifying experiences such as the frightful, Hospital Escape Terror. As a note of caution, if you scare easily, I suggest skipping both the Hospital Escape Terror and the Jungle of Despair. Instead, I recommend you opt for the flying Wing Bicycle; after all, you really don’t want to embarrass yourself by having an “accident” while strapped in.
Let’s not forget the green ticket! I suggest you make a beeline for the Argyle Shift mech attraction. You may just want to consider skipping past the other two options here. Fishing and skiing are things you can do in the “real world;” as far I as know you are not yet able to pilot a giant robot into battle. Rather than recreate what you can already experience outside, take advantage of the technology and opt for a full serving of virtual reality!
Other Nearby Attractions
In addition to Shinjuku VR Zone, Kabukicho is home to a variety of interesting entertainment. For starters, if you are in full tourist mode, you used to be able to top off your VR experience with a visit to the nutty Robot Restaurant for some brain-melting fun. Tragically (or maybe not if you’re like me), this place feel victim to the coronavirus pandemic but many expect it to make a recovery.
If you’re like me, and you’d rather preserve your sanity, another good option is the famous collection of small bars in nearby Golden Gai. Despite seating for only a handful of patrons, each of these little hovels has their own quirky flare. Lately, Golden Gai has become increasingly popular with tourists and accordingly, one should not worry about language issues.
Lastly, one of my favorite Indian restaurants, IndianRestaurant MASALA DINING, is located within this vicinity. If you’re in the mood to pig out on some delicious curry and cheesy garlic nan then I cannot more highly recommend this eatery. Just be prepared to chow down before stepping foot inside!
Until next time travelers…