When I knew that I was going to travel to Tokyo, I actually made a rough plan on where to visit in the evenings, after work. I wanted to go to 渋谷 Shibuya and witness the Shibuya Crossing from atop the Shibuya 109. I wanted to go to 秋葉原 Akihabara and
visit M’s experience the otaku heartland. I wanted to hit one of the many bars in expats concentrated 六本木 Roppongi. I wanted to go to 下北沢 Shimokitazawa to hunt for cheap food and bargain shopping. I also wanted to do a million other things that people normally associate with Tokyo…
When I actually arrived, I realized that I wasn’t going to do any of these things. You see, I had 5 working days in Japan. That means 5 evenings. Unfortunately, Tuesday evening was spent commuting from Tokyo to Fukushima, Wednesday evening was spent in Fukushima, Thursday evening was spent staying late at work, and Friday evening was spent packing up, going to the airport and coming home. That means I actually only had Monday evening to explore Tokyo by myself.
If you are planning to ask why I did not choose to extend my stay in Tokyo using personal funds, that was because the trip happened just after Chinese New Year. I was broke.
The hotel that we got booked into in Tokyo was the Century Southern Tower Hotel. It is a very tall building located within walking distance from the 新宿 Shinjuku train station.
This is a very tall multipurpose building. The first 3 floors are shops and restaurants. 4th to 18th floor are offices. 19th floor is the hotel lobby, and from here, the hotel rooms extend all the way to the top, to 37th floor.
This is one of the most expensive hotels in Tokyo. The reason we got booked into this hotel was because the few other company preferred hotels were fully booked. We had to pay close to ¥ 30 000 (RM 900/US$ 300) per night for a room here.
It was later when our host told us that we came on the worst possible week of the year. It was the week of University of Tokyo’s 入学試験 nyugaku shiken (entrance examination), when hundreds of thousands of junior college graduates flock to Tokyo to take this exam, hoping to gain entrance to the most prestigious university in Japan. That was the reason why all the hotels were fully booked.
Anyway, back to the main story…
Right, I basically only had Monday evening to explore Tokyo. That meant all my previous grand plans had to be thrown out the window. I settled for exploring the area within a 3 kilometers radius from my hotel. In hindsight, it wasn’t too bad. I was staying in Shinjuku, which is also one of the main areas in Tokyo where visitors explore.
Now, let me take you on a tour of Shinjuku as I retrace my footsteps through some photos..
It was late winter and it had just snowed the day before so you can still see some leftover snow shoved to the side.
I walked along the pedestrian path in the second picture. It leads towards the Shinjuku train station and then across a main road towards the more happening area. By the way, people say that the Shinjuku train station is the biggest and most complex train station in Japan.
I totally made that up LOL 😀 ! But it makes sense, doesn’t it? A bunch of people crossing the street outside Shinjuku train station. Shinjuku Crossing! 😛
This shot was taken on a pedestrian bridge. As I was taking this photo, I had some sort of an epiphany. When I traveled to America, I was surrounded by white people but we can easily understand each other by talking. Here in Japan, I am surrounded by people of the same skin color, but we can hardly understand each other by talking.
So, to all the racists out there: Fuck You! What does skin color matter? It means fucking nothing!
Once I crossed the pedestrian bridge, I was basically just wandering around aimlessly. The remaining photos below, if you want to ask me where the exact location of these places are, you can forget about it. I don’t know!
Too bad it was closed, otherwise I would’ve totally went inside for a peek. Pachinko is a type of mechanical game used for gambling purposes, found almost exclusively in Japan.
I have only ever seen a Tokyo parking garage in movies like Tokyo Drift, it would have been awesome if I can see those garage doors open and see the labyrinth of cars and cranes inside in real life. But it was not to be. I waited here for like, 10 minutes and nothing happened. So I moved on..
And then I was basically lost..
Judging from my location from the train station, I reckon that I have probably made it to 歌舞伎町 Kabukicho, the red light district of Shinjuku. Kabukicho is also where Jackie Chan filmed the movie 新宿事件 Shinjuku Incident. But I cannot be sure, after all I did not encounter any love hotels..
I’ve heard many travel bloggers talk about the DVD and Internet cafes in Tokyo. Apparently a DVD and Internet cafe is a cheapo’s alternative to a hotel. You pay about ¥ 1 500 (RM 50/US$ 15) to get a private booth for 12 hours. In that booth there’s a computer with internet and a cushy chair where you can get comfortable and get some sleep. You’ll also get a blanket and access to use their shower.
Before I decided to call it a day and look for dinner, I went into one of 100 Yen shops that I spotted to do something very important. Seriously, these 100 Yen shops are easy to locate, there’s basically one in every street (or at least that’s what I felt)!
Yup. (If you guys are reading) I know some of the stuff that I gave you guys looked super nice and deceptively classy, but they’re all from this shop. It’s basically the only place that I can shop in reckless abandon LOL! 😀
This is also where I discovered my personal favorite snack from Japan: Mitsuya Cider candy from Asahi.
By my own admission, it wasn’t my best photography day. I was tired and my brain was only functioning at 50% capacity. And it was really crowded in some places. A few times I stopped walking to take photos, I actually received annoyed stares and angry stares from people behind me, so most of my photos are shoot-and-go and shoot-on-the-go.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is basically it. That’s how my Shinjuku walking tour ended.