Tokyu Kabukicho Tower, a 48-storey skyscraper situated in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku, Tokyo, stands as a prominent feature of the city’s skyline. It incorporates modern accessibility and can be a fun place to visit or stay during your visit to Tokyo.
Designed by Yuko Nagayama & Associates and developed by Shimizu Corporation, this 225-meter-high structure was completed in 2023, becoming Japan’s 19th tallest building. Unlike other nearby office and residential high-rises, the tower is focused on entertainment and recreational activities, housing movie theatres, hotels, and art installations. It holds the distinction of being Japan’s first skyscraper designed by a woman.
The Tower’s facilities span three sections according to their purpose – lower, middle, and upper floors. The lower floors are comprised of two theatres, Japan’s largest night entertainment facility, an entertainment food hall, an amusement center featuring anime, manga, and video game characters, an attraction by Sony Music Entertainment, and a luxury wellness facility. The middle floors are home to the 109 Cinemas Premium Shinjuku. The upper floors feature two hotels – Hotel Groove Shinjuku and Bellustar Tokyo. Bellustar Tokyo, operated by Singapore-based Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, boasts a three-storey atrium restaurant on the building’s top three floors.
The tower is a 5-10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station, or a 1 minute walk from Seibu’s Shinjuku Station. All stations are accessible.
Despite being a new building, there are a number of barriers that greet visitors with mobility disabilities from the get-go. The main entrance facing Cine City Square has only steps and an escalator to get in the building.
Going around the back, on the Seibu Shinjuku Station side, there is a small door labeled as the accessible entrance that doubles as an entrance for hotel guests at night. While there is a pathway acting as a shortcut under the building, there is a curb circling around the building, leaving the only option to go the long way around.
Once inside, spacious elevators serve the various floors. Unfortunately, there is limited use of tactile blocks and no audio signals for those with visual impairments. The restaurant floors and arcade are not as cramped as you will find in older establishments, but they still can be a bit of a challenge to navigate when there are large numbers of visitors. The chairs on the Izakaya food floor can be removed and there is enough knee-room for most wheelchairs. The restaurants higher up in the building offer a more relaxed experience.
The food floor often has concerts and most floors have loud noises and bright, sometimes flashing lights. There are no calm-down/cool-down rooms in the building so those with sensory needs may need to leave the building if the lights and sounds become to much.
All screens at the 109 Cinemas have two accessible seats available. Theater Milano-Za has accessible seating – though the location of seats can change with seating layout changes. Zepp Shinjuku has an accessible toilet, but the facility suggests contacting the facility on an event-by-event basis as the floor layout often changes based on the show. The Zero Tokyo night club only has stairs and no accessible toilets.
Hotel Groove Shinjuku has an accessible room available. BellustarTokyo does not have a specific accessible room, but most rooms are very large and have separate baths and showers and a shower chair is available.
Most floors have separate, accessible unisex toilets that are fairly large, with ostomate facilities and options for changing young children. Unfortunately, none of the toilets have changing beds for adults.
Despite being a new building, there are some regrettable design choices related to getting into the building itself. Once inside, though, the entertainment facilities can provide a fun afternoon and the restaurants an opportunity to eat and drink (with live entertainment some nights) in a building with an accessible toilet nearby.
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