On Wednesday, J and I walked eastward to the Tokyo municipal government building with the hopes of enjoying a clear view from its observation deck. But we were hours too early. Partially defeated, we crossed the road to Shinjuku Chuo park. The park was disappointing too: fountains were turned off, the leaves unswept, and a grove of trees housed many homeless camps.
We kept walking northeast through narrow residential streets. People starting their day looked at us with confusion and curiosity. It’s a look we seem to get a lot in our travels.
Shinjuku Station at sunrise.
This log shaped vent can’t fool me.
The bicycle lost to time.
A white building invades.
Duct tape awning.
A small access panel.
Out with the 80s.
The invited entrance to a government building before opening.
Blue gate special.
Everywhere on the side streets, either metal or plastic ramps block the gutter to allow people to get into their parking spots.
Now accepting letters.
An old window.
In the Honcho neighborhood, a beautiful canal for the Kandagawa River swept northwest. Pedestrian paths on both sides featured gardens, benches, and chirping birds. We followed the water until Katnashinjuku neighborhood, stopping a few times for snacks, then heading back for an 11AM dipping ramen lunch.
Our first glimpse of the Kandagawa River.
Ass discouragement rail birds.
A box of charred shoes from a house fire along the river.
And some of the house.
Motorbike with an expensive balance basket for hauling things. Cakes? Sake?
A selection of gay rockers available for hosting during Shinjuku nights.
Club Seizakan didn’t realize it was still daytime.
A girl examines girl goods.
This moody fellow captures my feelings on Shinjuku.
My first bowl of tsukemen (dipping) ramen, a plate of noodles that are dipped in a concentrated broth.
Ladies await bento.
For reasons unknown, we took a train to Ichigaya Station and walked along the remains of an old imperial moat. The path took us into Akasaka, where we enjoyed expensive cups of coffee. Outside, people shopped and looked prosperous.
A walkway along the remains of an old moat near Ichigaya Station.
This tree enjoys a good beer.
Do you choose city or nature?
Padded trucks minimizes head injury.
After wandering through a landscaped area, we found ourselves at a dead end behind a hotel.
From a shrine in Akasaka.
An abandoned castle.
Back underground in the sprawling shopping tunnels of Shinjuku Station, we got lost while browsing for dinner.
We ended up eating at a quick soba shop with a machine for ordering out front. Language issues make this a decent option, as we can be self sufficient with minimal embarrassment. After feeding money into the machine, we matched price numbers with those on the displays of plastic food. The machine spit out our tickets and change, the former we handed over to the man behind the counter. He dished up our soba sets and J and I stood at the counters with the other hurried eaters.
We emerged from underground near a cool alley of small yakitori shops. The places were inviting, but yakitori is often the weirdest cuts of meat that fit on a skewer: chicken hearts, liver, guts, etc. Not my kind of meat.
The blinking and crowded entertainment district provided a lot of interesting people watching. The pachinko parlors were in full swing. Sexy clubs advertised their goods on flashing signs and in person. Everyone looked either sinful a curious. The amount of people, noise, and colors on display was overwhelming. Only the westerners seem shellshocked.
A small restaurant.
A group of men after work enjoy their grilled meats, beer, and cigarettes.
One of the main gates to the Shinjuku entertainment district.
Signs of all sorts.
A strange club that apparently had scantily clad women driving around on giant tank women like the one pictured. These men were getting a souvenir picture taken. All the real action was upstairs.
A dense area full of footpaths between tiny bars.
In a matrix of narrow, bar-filled alleys, an elderly woman jumped in front of me while I was trying to take a picture. She danced and sang while rubbing her denim-clad crotch. I couldn’t tell if she was trying to create a festive atmosphere or scare me away. The effect was both.