WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 2 – Shinjuku

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 11, 2010

WT2010 – DAY 2
Shinjuku, JAPAN
[On the iPOD] Shugo Tokumaru

I didn’t sleep aswell as I’d liked, was hell tired but the it’ll take awhile for me to get used to this pillow. I’m normally picky about a pillows hardness rating, but in this case it’s full of beads! Interesting. I made a bad choice for breakky going to a local westerner themed place, but no matter. On the way down I was on my floor lobby and there was a bit of a crowd, eventually one fellow picked up the phone and spoke to reception. I caught on fairly quick, the lifts were out. (Im more than 9floors up)

No one wanted to seem to do anything so i lead the way to the exit signs with a bunch of people in tow, they lead into the service area where I walked in to the amusement of 6or7 older maids who somehow knew I needed the lift. It was taking ages so I took the stairs.

After breakky I went outside with no real plan but to take a few photos locally. I got 100m up the road and realised I’d taken the batteries out, damnit! I wasn’t looking forward to walking up all those stairs but when I got back the lifts were working again. That’s Japanese service for you!

Started shooting a few buildings, it was heaps overcast in the morning but at least it wasn’t raining/snowing. Eventually found a park close by, some interesting sculptures as well as my first sad interaction with the homeless. Homeless people in Japan dress like out of work business men (most are) and are usually found with suitcases and little tarp houses with their only belongings.

In America in the 40’s men who found themselves too proud to admit to their family they’ve lost their job still dressed up as per normal, suits and all and pretended to go to work. It’s kind of the same deal here. Filled with pride, these men refuse to burden their families with their jobless presence.

I then headed east towards the major/busy sector of Shinjuku. As it turns out I forgot to pack ONLY two things for this trip. 1; FILM for my 2nd camera (LOMO) and 2; A long CAT5 LAN cable so I could use my laptop in bed. I wandered in a deparment store that was something like 10 stories and found WAYYY too much choice to decide what brand I wanted. For FILM buffs in Australia you can pay upto $28aud for a single roll of Fujichrome Velvia 100F. I scored a pack of 5 for 4500yen ($50aud) win!

I then started wandering randomly and every time I’d decide to put my camera away and focus on perhaps getting some lunch I’d find myself taking it out within 1minute cause I’d come across something interesting. I eventually ended up down some back alley and FINALLY saw a place with what I know as Tokyo Ramen on the picture/lunch menu. An older couple worked there and I totally slammed down the Ramen and topped it off with Sapporo. I was again met with smiles/bows and amusement when I tried my best at being respectful in poor Japanese. 2 days in and I’m totally convinced you can survive forever on like 5 words…

I then set a goal for Shinjuku-gyoen A huge park south-east of Shinjuku station, it has a shrine and such. So off I went, 1km, 2km. Hold on, it’s not this far on the map. Using a lonleyplanet map, it literally only has main roads and some arent even named (I need a better map, I never get lost!) It then occured to me that I was in the red-light district. Well… atleast I know where that is! I then heard some familiar music. Super Eurobeat! It was coming out of a gaming palour, if I needed any reminder IM IN JAPAN! I suddenly got the urge to be driving my old AE86.

Eventually the backstreets got smaller and smaller and I started to wander down mini lanes with peoples houses. It’s not everday you see a vending machine in the front yard of someones apartment, another home was converted to a cool clothing store. It then hit me why Japan really is like no where else on Earth. In western countries we have bullshit gentrification, Go to one city visit a westfields, go to another? go to a westfields and find exactly the same stores selling exactly the same clothes. Boring.

In Japan the huge chains of department stores are centered around major ‘buildings’ and the companies that own them have their own unique take on what the shopping experience should be. Break this down further and you get people converting their homes into fashion labels. Like the one I’d just come across. It breeds originality and it’s why Japan is king in shopping and fashion, amongst other things.

I eventually hit Meiji-dori and could’nt understand why there was no damn park, the map wasn’t helping at this point so doing the classic ‘Im lost dancemovement’ (walking one direction, then stopping and looking the other way) An older man approached me in broken english asking where I wanted to go. I showed him the map and he pointed in the direction I was going but said it was 3km! In my quest to walk South-East, I’d walked North-East! Like 2km+! Distracted much!

Eventually hit the park. It was stunning. I’ll let the pictures do the talking but I took a lot of cherry-blossom photos because It’s a big deal in Japan. The first blossoms of the year attract huge crowds. I think theres even a festival for it. They’re not in full-bloom yet. It was only a handfull of trees which are purposely early blooming I think. They totally light up the park on a cold-drab day. But the weather was great today, blue skies and crisp clean air. Like Melbourne without the rain.

Pretty much lapped the park, then walked back to my hotel. Walked all day from 11am to 6pm! A well earned rest+shower. I then setoff to find dinner. MOS Burger! It seemed simple enough on the lonelyplanet map, but ofcourse; LOST AGAIN! I’m not using it anymore. I walked about 2km I’d say. At least I got some good night photos and I also worked up the apetite for these awesome little burgers. They’re like specialty cooked, you have to wait like 5-10minutes and theyre amazing!

Enough ranting, to the photos: MORE OVER AT FLICKR
But heres a sampler:

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