Mexico City, Mexico
February 15, 2002
Shinjuku is legally one of the 23 wards (or cities) that together constitute
Tokyo, but for most visitors Shinjuku is associated with the bustling area that
surrounds Shinjuku station. Shinjuku Station (it is actually 6 stations next to
and atop of each other!) is the busiest station in Japan with about 3 million
passengers passing through each day. Any time you go to Shinjuku station you may
feel alone but you’ll NEVER walk alone in this area!
Nishi (West) Shinjuku has the highest concentration of skyscrapers in Tokyo.
For some reason the ground in this area is considered less susceptible to
earthquakes and of course modern technology makes increasingly higher earthquake
resistant buildings possible. The most impressive is the 48 story Tokyo
Metropolitan Government offices - this huge complex consists of three buildings
and resembles the façade of a very high gothic church. It was designed during
the economic bubble of the 1980s when the sky seemed to have been the limit and
no expenses were spared. A free viewing platform is in the left tower and many of the nearby office buildings have restaurants with a view on the top floors.
Much more lively is the east side of the station. A few blocks to the north
is Kabukicho - the most famous adult entertainment area in Tokyo. Erotic shows
and adult entertainment compete with fairly normal restaurants and bars for
business. The area is fairly safe to walk in and as all the writing is in
Japanese most foreigners would not even guess what is advertised on the higher
floors - although graphic displays are becoming more prominent of late. This
being Tokyo a large theatre with mainly family oriented shows as well as several
standard cinemas are smack in the middle of this "red" (in Japanese "pink")
light district. Note that foreigners are mostly not welcome at the adult
entertainment establishments. In contrast foreigners are mostly welcome at bars
in the gay entertainment area in adjacent Ni-chome.
However, the best part of Shinjuku is the shopping. A visit to at least one
department store is a must even if just to see the display of food or the
massive selection of make up and perfumes. Isetan department store
is close to
the station and very popular with locals and visitors alike.
Several branches of Marui (younger demography), Mitsukoshi (more mature
shoppers) and Takashimaya (usually more mature but in this specific branch
aiming younger) are all close to the station.
Thousands of other shops cater for every need and every price range. True
bargains are often to be had. For electronics try Bic Camera, Sakuraya or
Yodobashi - these three stores are practically next to each other and are famous
for having employees constantly checking the prices of the competition and
adjusting their own prices accordingly. Sakuraya also has a seven-story watch
store selling all kinds up to Rolex at discount prices.
From journal Tokyo Highlights - the essential must sees