We spent the last half day of our trip around Japan back in Tokyo, staying in the Shinjuku district. Unfortunately we had some of the worst weather of our trip – driving rain and strong winds. This wasn’t conducive to proper exploration but we did grab our umbrellas and venture out of the hotel to see more of Shinjuku. The area to the west of its massive station (the busiest in the world!) consists mainly of skyscrapers, some of them very distinctive in design – I loved the so-called Cocoon Tower! But in the pouring rain it was hard to get decent photos – this one of it was taken the next morning from Shinjuku Station as we prepared to board the airport bus.
As well as checking out the architecture here, we visited the small but interesting Sompo Japan Museum of Art which as well as showcasing the work of Japanese Cubist-influenced artist Seiji Togo, has several notable Impressionist works including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (bought at the height of the 1980s bubble economy by the insurance company which owns the building for a then unprecedented five billion yen) and others by Gauguin and Cezanne. It’s not a large collection by any means, but a visit here is worthwhile if you are interested in art of this period, and especially in poor weather. See their English language website for more information including a map of the location.
Further west on the fringes of this area is the Metropolitan Government Building which is where we next headed.
Shinjuku is not only the most crowded part of Tokyo, but it has a little something for everyone... especially if you like a wide variety of nightlife.
Shinjuku is a transit hub. It has the busiest train station in the world. Over 3.5 million people travel through this station every day. 3.5 million people have not traveled through my hometown since the day the first house was constructed alongside a dirt track in the early 1800s.
Shinjuku is the heart of city government. While the national government is clustered around the Imperial Palace, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is housed in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. The city offices occupy three buildings: the main 45-story tall structure, a 33 story building, and an 8 story building.
Shinjuku is for lovers. This area of town hosts the city's largest red light district in Kabukicho, Tokyo's gay district--the world's largest--in Shinjuku Ni-chōme, and a geisha district in Kagurazaka.
Shinjuku is for Hanguk-in. Shin Okubo is home to a Korea Town with some 80,000 Koreans, mostly recent arrivals. Signs on storefronts are often in Hangul, Japanese and English, and the restaurants serve great kimchi, kimbap, and kalbi.
Shinjuku is for drinking. An area called Golden Gai boasts 200 tiny, run down bars packed into a few narrow alleys. This is a very popular place for drinks, music, and food, but many bars do not welcome strangers.
This was a stunning experience with all the different varieties of cherry trees in full blossom. Incredibly beautiful! The garden is run by the Ministry of the environment now but it has a long history dating back to the beginning of the Edo period. It used to be Botanical Garden, then Imperial Garden and then, finally, it was opened to public in 1949. It has three distinctive styles: English landscape garden, French formal garden and Japanese traditional garden. There are also greenhouses.
Open fom 9 to 4, greenhouse from 11 to 3.
Admission: 200 yen for adults
It's just a 10-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station (south exit). It's open from 9am to 4:30pm but gate will be closed at 4pm. Admission fee is JPY200 per adult but worth a visit, especially in spring and autumn.
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed on the site of a private mansion belonging to Lord Naito, a "daimyo"(feudal lord) of the Edo era. Completed in 1906 as an imperial garden, it was re-designated as a national garden after World War 2 and opened to the public.
58.3 hectares(144 acres) in size and with a circumference of 3.5 km, it blends three distinct styles, French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.
Among the 20000 trees which grow in Shinjuku Gyoen are the first examples planted in Japan of such species as tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses, whose distinctive crown shapes give the garden a solemn and dignified atmosphere.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a huge park, walkable from JR Shinjuku station. In early April it is absolutely breathtaking with all sorts of blossoms. Entry was cheap (200 yen) and a map of the park marked with where all the blossoms are is provided. The locals seem to enjoy hanging out here, with some older people drawing and painting the blossoms. It is absolutely romantic and beautiful.
Last visited: April 2003.
Shinjuku Gyoen was constructed in 1906 as an imperial garden, It was re-designated as a national garden after World War 2nd and opened to the public. it blends theree distinct styles, French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional, and is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.
Tea and sweet cakes are served in a pavilion. Open 9:00-16:00 except Mon (but open Mon at cherry and chrysanthemum time) and late Dec-early Jan. Admission
Shinjuku (sometimes called Tokyo's Times Square) is a lot of fun to stroll around with the streets full of people. We jay-walked to get over to Citibank, and I was surprised; I hadn't seen anyone so much as cross against a light since I arrived. ("It's okay here," Jay assured me. "But don't try it anywhere else.") The lights and energy were amazing and some of the people we passed were surpassing strange. After a bit we reached Takashimaya. Sky bridges cross the Yamamote Japan rail line there, and the whole is quite strikingly beautiful. But the winds caught us as we hit the plaza, and it was unsettling to be on that sky bridge over the rail lines under those conditions. When we went down to the Oeno line (the deepest in the city), there were signs saying that certain surface routes were partially closed because of high winds. It reminded me of the cable car to Table Mountain, which stops running rather frequently because of the winds there.
the red light district of Shinjuku and popular with foreigners! but the main red light district of tokyo is in Yoshiwara which is far from the accesible areas for tourist hehehehe. Unfortunately we had a walk in kabukicho area in the afternoon as we have a plane to catch in the evening so we did not have the chance to try the "infamous" japanese Soapland Massage here which are similar to the Soapy Massages of Bangkok (see my bangkok tips).
Kabukichô has transformed from a residential area to a world famous red-light district housing over three thousand bars, nightclubs, love hotels, massage parlours, hostess clubs and the like. Although referred here as a "red light district", there are no red lights in the literal sense with prostitutes in the windows as in Amsterdam. Although Kabukicho is often considered to be a dangerous or otherwise unseemly area, there is little reason for the visitor to be concerned for their physical safety. Women, especially non-Japanese, are advised to be aware of harassment or solicitation, particularly recruitment for employment in a host club.
Some of the bars are ramshackle looking places but they have long been tolerated as a place where (sexual) pleasure-seeking Japanese - and visitors - let off steam. Anyone expecting the sort of sex clubs found in American or European cities could be in for a surprise. Here are entire clubs populated by pretend nurses, govenesses, secretaries, dominatrices - everything is available in Kabukicho. Here also can be found "naked karaoke", life-size latex dolls (for the use of), a reconstructed train filled with short-skirted schoolgirls (guaranteed not to press charges hehehe, the japanese term for this is chikan!) and even a giant tank outside of which businessmen in suits can watch naked girls swim underwater.
the busiest station in tokyo according to wikipedia, heck tyhe busiest station around the world according to Guinness! Shinjuku Station opened in 1885 as a stop on Japan Railway's Akabane-Shinagawa line (now part of the Yamanote Line) and presently is used by an average of 3.22 million people per day, making it the busiest train station in the world. It is also the second-largest (after Nagoya Station) when measured by area. It serves as the main connecting hub for rail traffic between central Tokyo and its western suburbs. This humoungous Shinjuku station is not just one big station but several big interconnected aboveground and underground stations for Trains, Subways and even Buses!
the station is also a giant maze of shops, department stores like Keio or Isetan or Lumine or Odakyu and assorted restaurants, pubs and other specialty shops that the Shinjuku Station Can Be considered a separate shopping and eating destination in itself besides the shinjuku area around it! Among the thousands of cafes, restaurants and stores in the immediate vicinty of Shinjuku Station are the Isetan, Mitsukoshi and Marui department stores, Lumine Este, and Kinokuniya bookshop (all east exit) HMV and Tower Records, Takashimaya Times Square, Tokyu Hands (all south exit)Odakyu and Keio department stores, Bic Camera, and Yodobashi Camera (all west exit).
strolling around the shinjuku area and reminiscing since the last time I was in the shinjuku area was in 1985 and staying at Keio Plaza Hotel (see my old keio plaza pictures). To the west of Shinjuku Station rises the dense forest of skyscrapers surrounding the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: including the Shinjuku NS Building, KDDI Building, Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, the Sompo Building, and the Nomura building. Behind the high-rises is Shinjuku Chuo Koen Park. It is also home to several hotels, most notably the Keio Plaza Hotel, and the Shinjuku Washington Hotel. Shinjuku is the major commercial, entertainment and shopping area in Tokyo and is the biggest urban hub within the larger metropolis of Tokyo. Both Odakyu and Keio have department stores at the station as does Seibu at the Seibu-Shinjuku Station.
Shinjuku is one of 23 wards of Tokyo, but the main attractions gather around the train station which handles more than 2 million passengers each day. This large entertainment, shopping and business area is crowded and dynamic from early morning till late night. Kabukicho which is Japan's largest and wildest red light district is also located here. The skyscraper district of Shinjuku has some of the tallest buildings in Tokyo such as Metropolitan Government Office and several hotels. There are many department stores, subterranean malls and electronic malls in Shinjuku providing enough options for shopping. The restaurants are scattered all around from budget to high end. You can spend an enjoyable day in Shinjuku but in the evening under neon lights, it even becomes better.
The veiw from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (Tocho) is amazing. It may offer the best few of all of Tokyo. The Twin Towers are 243 meters tall there are excellent observatories on both of the tower's 45th floors. It's best to check out the view from both of the towers.
Another highlight to this experience is that it's free.
(It's hard to take a good ground view photo of this building -- it's so BIG).
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building #1 not only has one of the best views of Tokyo, but it is free! The twin towers have an observation room at the top that gives a 360 degree view of the Tokyo area with nothing to block the view but the adjacent tower. It can't get any better than that. They say that on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji, but we didn't have such luck. But even on a rainy day the view is great.
There is, of course, a gift shop here, and also a bar/cafe. We stopped to relax for a drink, which was worth it for us after a long day of walking in Tokyo. But other than that, it is one of the best free sites in Tokyo.
Shinjuku is one of the busiest stations in Tokyo. Subway lines and JR lines meet at Shinjuku ferrying loads of passengers to their destination. During rush hours, you can see some people pushers trying to pack as many passengers into each carriage. There are now female carriages to avoid ladies being taken advantages of during peak hours. It is worth an one time experience being shove into the train before the door closes.
You can walk about one kilometers underground with clear directions sign to find your way around the station. The west exit will lead to the Metropolitan Government Offices. The East exit will lead to My City building and Kabukicho area.