Tokyo and its Surroundings
Shinjuku is the heart of Tokyo, it is the part of the city that is impossible to miss.
Indeed Shinjuku is the intersection of most train lines. Over 1.3 million travelers pass through Shinjuku station every day, making it the largest station in the world. Needless to say that the station is huge, it has ten floors and links to several shopping centers.
It is often the first contact you have with the city when you arrive from the airport by train and it is quite impressive. We find ourselves in the middle of a giant anthill, wondering which is the right path to take. A fun situation for several people but which can quickly be stressful for a single person. Rest assured though, you get used to it pretty quickly and most of the directions are written in English.
Shinjuku is not really a district but rather an assembly of very different districts, it can be divided into five main parts.
To the west is the city's business district. You will easily recognize it by the many skyscrapers that are located there. This district is beautiful, the architecture of the buildings is very fine and exudes modernity. It is a fairly quiet and extremely clean part of the city that lives to the rhythm of office hours. You can see, among others, the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the hotel in which Lost in Translation was filmed or the impressive Tokyo Town Hall from the top of which we have a breathtaking view of the city.
On the other side of the railway line, to the east, is the Shinjuku shopping district where you can take in the sights. It is a bit of the district that reflects the economic dynamism and modernity of Japan. It is 5 minutes from the business district but the atmosphere is radically different. Here everything is noisy and colorful, the sidewalks are crowded and you are bombarded with advertising. In this corner you will find notably big electronics stores like “Bic Camera”, “Sakura” and the most recent “LABI” which rise on several floors. There is also a choice of impressive restaurants, arguably one of the largest concentrations of restaurants in the world, there are thousands of them.
Once you have crossed the main Yasukuni Street, you arrive in Kabukichô (or Kabuki Chô), one of the largest nightlife districts of the capital. There are cinemas, large arcades, restaurants and lots of bars and clubs. The area is known for its large number of hostess bars, cabarets and other strip clubs. Impossible to take three steps without being invited to enter one of these hot places of the night. Kabukichô is also known for its yakuza which have the reputation of being omnipresent there. In the evening the atmosphere is rather heavy, not necessarily worrying but not always reassuring either.
Further on, we can go for a drink in one of the little bars of the Golden Gai. By walking a few more minutes, we leave Shinjuku to arrive in the Korean district of Tokyo with its yakiniku and shabu-shabu restaurants at attractive prices.
The south-east is a part dedicated to arcades and electronics or video games stores. There is mainly one of the gigantic electronics stores “Yodobashi Camera” which covers an enormous surface on nine floors and its little brother next door devoted to the photo.
Finally, south exit are the large shopping centers Lumine 1 and Lumine 2 as well as the very large Takashimaya center which houses, among other things, the gigantic Tokyu Hands store ideal for finding interesting souvenirs.
Between each of these districts, we will encounter a multitude of shopping streets and a park which is also accessible on foot from Shinjuku.