16th August 2016.
Shinjuku can be regarded as the capital of Tokyo; serving as the base of operations for the city government. Its main building is situated just off the West exit of Shinjuku’s enigmatic train station. The colourful yet not so colourful Tokyo borough is one of the most populous areas in Tokyo in the north-western corners and it was the next area to explore on this day.
As well as being the home to the seedy Kabukicho district, the historical Golden Gai and the hundreds if not thousands of corporate business bases Shinjuku is the obvious hotspot for travellers to visit. If you’ve seen Kimi no Na wa / Your Name or some of Makoto Shinkai’s other works you’ll probably have a good idea of the cityscape. And so with the help of Mr Otamega’s Wild Ride Tour we spent our ninth day romping around Shinjuku.
Walking to the train station in the morning and came across Shane’s English School a couple of blocks down our Airbnb – yes, that Shane from the UK!
First stop was the Shinjuku Chuo Park and the cicadas were loud as ever.
The strong absence of colour was the most striking aspect I had noticed arriving in Nishi-Shinjuku. Apart from the trees the area was virtually a concrete jungle. Tall and clean-cut buildings painted on a scale of white to grey plastered infinite grids of windows cut with precision. Nishi-Shinjuku screams of business.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has an observation deck free for visitors – providing a budget alternative to see Tokyo from above aside from the pricey Skytree and Tokyo Tower. Admission is free but I remember it had some funny opening times so better to double check before embarking.
The government building actually has two observation decks as the building splits off into two cylinders from above; a north deck and a south deck. Can’t remember which one we were in though.
It was difficult to get clear shots due to the highly reflective and dusty windows. Had to place my camera lens directly straight onto the window to avoid reflection and do a bit of post-processing to make it clean looking again.
Recovering from the slightly nauseating elevator trip down from the government building we continued our trail around Shinjuku going over to the east side of the station.
Our journey came to a slight halt when it suddenly began to heavily pour down with rain! We weren’t properly equipped nor didn’t expect this kind of weather so it became the perfect time for me to buy my first clear plastic umbrella from a nearby 7eleven!
Paid a visit to the Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku store when the rain calmed down where I vandalised this Wacom Cintiq.
Ended up at the east exit of Shinjuku Station which was featured in the final episode of New Game! Season 1!
After visiting several shops we arrived at the de facto entrance of Kabukicho!
Notice the elusive Godzilla creeping over Toho Cinema.
Even though it was early afternoon I already felt the tense vibe around Kabukicho. Tucked into every little crevice on the streets are doors heading up and down to countless varieties of host clubs and bars.
Supposedly policed by the yakuza this area wasn’t a place worth screwing around in.
Came across the infamous Robot Restaurant which has been featured many times in a bunch of Western travel programs about Japan! I actually considered going here while planning the trip until I saw the price of admission…
Visited Golden Gai, an area filled with dozens of tiny alleyways of tiny pubs and bars. Because it was still in the afternoon everything was shut and silent. I can imagine the area lighting up with life at night after seeing the community photo board with polaroids of visitors and tourists having an absolute blast.
Later visited Kinokuniya and found NEO Magazine (a UK anime magazine) in the foreign section! I was surprised to find out that it costed a markup of around £15 to buy in Japan compared to the standard £4.25 back home. Looks like the import tax tables have turned…
Just across the side entrance to Kinokuniya was a matcha ice cream stand which I just had to try out.
Had the most amazing ramen for lunch at this family-run joint Otamega took us to!
The NTT Docomo Yoyogi building in the distance! As seen in Your Name and Garden of Words!
After running around and visiting more shops where I forgot to take pictures of, night naturally fell (which still threw me off that the sun sets early in Japan and Asia despite it being summer), oh and it began to pour down with rain again.
Because I was the only one with an umbrella me, Joe and Otamega huddled together under my umbrella as we tried to maneuver and find shelter. Not what I was expecting in my lovers under an umbrella anime trope…
We ended up spending the evening at a nearby 7eleven which had an area at the front with tables and chairs to chill – splurging on a bunch of konbini food acting as dinner I tried out the legendary ice candy as seen from Sora’s mouth in Kingdom Hearts.
Picked up this coin case from Sekaido, an amazing stationery shop in Shinjuku which had everything Japanese stationery you could ever imagine! After seeing loads of people using this at Comiket I thought it would be a good thing to use to organise my loose Japanese change which was quickly accumulating.
Before heading to bed I tried this snack I got from the supermarket after seeing it in the anime Dagashi Kashi. Costing no more than a mere 10 English pennies turns out this snack was just a really long cheese puff…