Best Places to Play Crane Games in Shinjuku

If you find yourself in the bustling district of Shinjuku craving some crane games action, you’re in luck. The busy metropolis is not only about shopping and nightlife, it also has a nice selection of game arcades. Here’s the lowdown on what’s worth checking out.

Vlog: Crane Games in Shinjuku

Make sure you check out the vlog to get a taste each arcade’s vibe and also see some play action!

Namco Tokyo (Kabukicho Tower)

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Namco Tokyo

Located inside the fresh-faced Kabukicho Tower in the heart of Shinjuku, Namco Tokyo‘s claim to fame is a Big Crane machine that offers giant-sized plushies. But at 500 yen a play, you better really want that plushie.

Bog Crane at Namco Tokyo

There is also a decent selection of standard and mini claw machines, but the vibe in general feels rather touristy. Great for snaps and soaking in the cyberpunk atmosphere, but those serious about crane gaming should head downstairs to…

GiGO Kabukicho

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GiGO Shinjuku Kabukicho

GiGO is one of the biggest game arcade chains in Japan, with branches throughout the country. The branch in Kabukicho lacks machines with food prizes, but it boasts a good range of the latest plushies and figurines. Staff are also generally nice and helpful.

Playing for Sumikkogurashi at GiGO Shinjuku Kabukicho

GamePanic Kabukicho

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Right across the square is GamePanic, another relatively prominent arcade chain in Japan. This chain is a personal favourite of mine as it offers the 6 plays for 500 yen deal. In addition to the usual plushies and figurines, it also has a wide range of snack prize machines with various setups.

Snack prizes at GamePanic Kabukicho

GAO

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GAO game plaza in Shinjuku Kabukicho

Venture into the back streets of Kabukicho to find GAO. Less known than the others on this list, it offers a nice respite from the crowds, allowing you to play in peace. Despite being smaller than its counterparts, GAO stands out with prizes that are less commonly found in other game centers, such as axolotls and capybaras.

Capybaras at GAO

Shinjuku Sports Land

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Moving away from Kabukicho, cross the main road to find even more crane gaming delights.

Shinjuku Sports Land

First off, we have Shinjuku Sports Land. Don’t be fooled by the name — this facility is more about leisure than sports. The highest floor offer darts and billiards, hence the name, but it does feel somewhat misleading to me. In any case, you’ll find a mix of crane games, arcade games and Purikura (photo sticker booths) on the first two floors.

Crane games inside Shinjuku Sports Land

Taito Station

East Exit branch

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A few doors down from Shinjuku Sports Lands is the Shinjuku East Exit branch of Taito Station, marked by two Big “Crappy”s making a raucous outside.

Big Crappy outside Taito Station Shinjuku East Exit store

Taito Station is arguably the most famous game arcade chain in Japan, so its branches are always very popular and often crowded. This branch offers five floors of gaming goodness, with crane games taking up most of first three floors. There is also an interesting collection of mini claw machines featuring realistic food models, almost like a crane game center of Kappabashi.

South Exit branch (GameWorld)

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The second Taito Station branch in Shinjuku is near the South Exit of the station, and while not as big, it does feature a horror-themed escape room attraction in its basement. It also has a decent selection of snack prize machines.

Horror escape room in basement of Taito Station Shinjuku South Exit branch

ME Tokyo Shinjuku

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Last but definitely not least, is ME Tokyo Shinjuku. This hip and vibrant game arcade is located a street away from the South Exit branch of Taito Station, and you can’t miss it with its bright yellow facade.

Me Tokyo Shinjuku

A few things make ME Tokyo unique: 1) There is a cafe on the 3F, 2) It has chairs for tired companions to sit, 3) It offers nifty tote bags to carry home your wins.

Free tote bag for prize wins at Me Tokyo Shinjuku

The basement comprises of crane games and gachapon machines, while the first and second floors are all crane games. The second floor is almost entirely dedicated to snacks. And not just your usual chocolate and chips, but also more substantial eats like Beard Papa cakes, vitamin jelly, and Dole fruit salad.

Dole fruit salad prize

The vast majority of the snack setups are hashi-watashi (through the bars) or sue-hiroi (widening bars), so while not as interesting as some others, you can nab some pretty nice bargains if they are your forte. The arcade also indicates which machines are “easy,” which makes it a good place for beginners to play as well.

Easy machine settings at Me Tokyo Shinjuku

In summary

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the range of crane games in Shinjuku, all which beckon you with their bright flashing lights and familiar sounds. While you can generally find similar prizes across the board, not all arcades are created equal. In Shinjuku, unless there is a specific prize I want, I personally stick to playing at GamePanic or Me Tokyo for snacks. For a quieter, more niche experience, try GAO. In any case, this guide should give you enough information to embark on an arcade adventure in Shinjuku. Grab your coins and get ready to play!

Wins after a day of crane gaming in Shinjuku

If you want some tips before venturing into the world of UFO catchers, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Crane Games. For those living in Japan, you can also hone your skills by playing remotely.

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