Come the end of March to the beginning of April,Sakura, or Japanese cherry blossoms are generally in bloom in this little but pretty park near the shopping district of Shinjuku. Of course when I was there in Dec, all 1500 trees over there were pretty bare! This spring picture was taken by hubby.
Entry fee: 200 yen
Now a lot of folks think that the best view of Shinjuku is from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG). Afterall, the observatory offers a free bird's-eye view of Shinjuku's cluster of skyscrapers right? Wrong, you can get an even better view from Park Hyatt's New York Grill on the 52nd Floor. And did I mention that there's food and champagne in the weekend? Check out my buffet tip in the food section.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building is a famous 243 metre tall twin towers landmark in Shinjuku with observatories on the 45th floor of each tower. The fantastic view of Tokyo from the southern tower is considered slightly more interesting. It open daily from 9:30 to 23:00 (south observatory until 17:30), except December 29-31, January 2-3 and occasional inspection days. Furthermore, the north observatory is closed on the 2nd and 4th Monday and the south observatory on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, except if a public holiday falls on the closure day, in which case the observatory is closed the following day. Admission is free. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to visit this place but I would like recommend it to you if you have the time.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tip: From Tamamo Pond, there is a nice walking trail extending from the islet in the middle of the pond. As you walk along the trail you will find two information boards. One in Japanese is telling us about Mandarin Duck(Japanese OSHIDORI) . Mandarin Duck is a prevalent bird species in East Asian countries. In Shinjuku Gyoen, you can see them during Autumn to Spring. In China and Japan they are symbols of lifelong fidelity and conjugal affection for married couples. Japanese word OSHIDORI-FUFU comes from that conception. The pairs are often seen close to each other. Male bird has beautiful tail just like Japanese comb while female has greyish brown feathers. The other info board tells us about semi-aquatic turtles residing in Shinjuku Gyoen. The most prevalent turtle in Shinjuku Gyoen is red-ear sliders which is in fact recognized as one of the invasive foreign species in Japan. the others are Japanese pond turtle(Ishigame, Mauremys Japonica), Reeve's pond turtle(Kusagame, Chinemys reevesii), and soft-shelled turtle(suppon, Pelodiscus sinensis).
South Shinjuku/Yoyogi Tip: Alternate Names: NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building(official name), Tokyo Empire State Building(nickname)
Around Shinjuku there are lots of skyscrapers but NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, often referred to as NTT Docomo Tower or Tokyo Empire State Building, is one of the new comers opened in 2000.
It is located in Yoyogi area of Shibuya ward but it is purely the business space and not for tourists. There are no observation space unlike the other skyscrapers around Shinjuku. The building is also noted for the huge clock 15 meters in diameter. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Shinjuku is one of the great places to view this skyscraper.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tip: The gate opened in 1927 used to be the Shinjuku Gate for Shinjuku Gyoen Garden used until 1995. Today the gate is merely the entrance of the promenade linking New Shinjuku Gate and Okido Gate. To enter the garden turn either right of left following the trail.
Shinjuku Gyoten National Garden Tip: The promenade about 540 meters long used to be a part of Shinjuku Gyoen Garden. Today this area with stream from Tamagawa Aqueduct is popular among walkers. You can share a tiny fracture of the huge garden without paying entrance fee. How cool.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tip: Visitor Center is one of the new features of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Don't forget to drop by before entering the garden because inside the garden there is no info booth answerable to visitor's quenstions. It is a mini-museum and you can see the photos of the park. But most of the displays are in Japanese. I am not so sure if visitors from overseas can be fully informed about the garden before entering.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tip: Newer Shinjuku Gate got a lot closer to JR Shinjuku Station. Before this gate was opened visitors to the park often chose to enter from Sendagaya Gate. Now it is ten minutes from Shinjuku Station much more accessible to most people particularly from people from western part of Japan who use Odakyu Line to Shinjuku, Tokyo. When you enter you might not find leaflet written in foreign languages. Then ask the staff in blue jacket. They have English and Chinese leaflet of the garden.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tip: Upper Pond(Kamino-Ike) is the westernmost pond of the Japanese Landscape Garden area of the park. Around the pond there are wide variety of trees and flower plants. There are two islets on the pond and one of the islet is linked by bridges. There is a tea house called Rakuu Tei at the lawn area about 100 meter east of the bridge.
Also see Shinjuku Gyoen Garden(Upper Pond)
These two building, Kokugakuin University, Shinjuku (Right, 133m, 29-floor) and S-tec Information Building(Left, 129m, 28-floor) are twin towers completed in 1989 and 1992 respectively. The former is used for Shinjuku campus of Kokugakuin University while the latter is mainly used for office space, shopping mall and restaurants. These towers were constructed jointly by Taisei, Takenaka, Shimizu, Obayashi, Kajima and Toda.
Shinjuku Skyscrapers Tip: Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is one of the newest Skyscrapers in West Shinjuku completed in 2008, 50-story, 204m in height. It is the one of the works by Tange Associates founded by Paul Noritaka Tange, the son of Kenzo Tange, who is one of the most renowned architects in Japan. Most of the buildings are used for three speciality colleges such as Tokyo Mode Gakuen, HAL Tokyo and Shuto Iko. It is one of the easiest Skyscrapers to spot.
While many people come to Shinjuku and Ginza for shopping, I feel that the most important thing to do here is to soak in the atmosphere, walk around and feel that you are in one of the most crowded and modern places in Japan and perhaps the world. You will experience tall skycrapers, neon lights, shops after shops, many people walking around etc and sometimes it can be very overwhelming :)
Shrines and Temples Tip: Situated at the helm of Shinjuku's entertainment zone filled with night clubs, drinking bars, restaurants and department stores, the shrine has been regarded as the guadian of the area. It was built even before Tokugawa Government was founded in 1603. The shrine is best known by Tori-no-Ichi Fair held in November. The shrine also welcomed show performances to maintain the shrine so one of its sub-shrines enshrining Konohana-Sakuyahime also the goddess deity of Mount Fuji is named as Geino Asama Shrine granting the wishes of art performers and entertainers. Even today show performances are occasionally held at the shrine.
Shrines and Temples Tip: A Pure-World(Jodo-shu) Buddhist temple founded in 1596 is one of the major historical sites in Shinjuku-ward. It was also the burial sites for Naito Clan who was assigned Shinjuku area during Edo Period(1603-1868). The temple is known by the biggest Yama statue in Tokyo. And its copper jizo(Ksitigarbha Sedentery) statue is one of the six major Jizo(Ksitigarbha) statues in Tokyo. The temple also has a Kirishitan Stone Lantern, Shiokake(Putting-Salt) Statue as well as some monuments.
Shinjuku has several popular areas, West Shinjuku, East Shinjuku, Shin-Okubo and Takadanobaba. 1. 'West Shinjuku': Best Known by a cluster of skyscrapers such as Tokyo...