A Travellerspoint blog

Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku and some travel tips

Last day and a half in Tokyo

overcast 26 °C
View Japan 2023 on Pepperismybaby's travel map.

More children's delight - a massive range of sweets

More children's delight - a massive range of sweets

View from the government buildings in Shinjuku - all free

View from the government buildings in Shinjuku - all free

Child's delight - more Sylvanian families than I've ever seen. In Shinjuku department store

Child's delight - more Sylvanian families than I've ever seen. In Shinjuku department store

Backstreets between Shibuya and Harajuku. These were often very quiet once you got away from the train stations

Backstreets between Shibuya and Harajuku. These were often very quiet once you got away from the train stations

Govt towers in Shinjuku all lit up

Govt towers in Shinjuku all lit up

More quiet back streets

More quiet back streets

I thought this was purely aspirational.  I did not see a single horse the whole time I was in Japan. Still I suppose some people must go horseriding

I thought this was purely aspirational. I did not see a single horse the whole time I was in Japan. Still I suppose some people must go horseriding

An edgy exhibition in the Parco building in Shibuya. I have no idea what it means

An edgy exhibition in the Parco building in Shibuya. I have no idea what it means

Overground Park in Shibuya. I had no time to check it out.

Overground Park in Shibuya. I had no time to check it out.

No rest for this guy- still at work at 8pm on a Friday

No rest for this guy- still at work at 8pm on a Friday

I discovered after I needed it that there's a great underground walkway from Shinjuku Station, through the govt section, complete with travellators.  Instead I slogged through the 26 degree heat on the busy street.

I discovered after I needed it that there's a great underground walkway from Shinjuku Station, through the govt section, complete with travellators. Instead I slogged through the 26 degree heat on the busy street.

I came back to Tokyo, this time staying in Shinjuku which is one of those famously busy areas of Tokyo. Although my hotel was on the other side of the government buildings, across from Chuo Park.

The government sector was impressive - all sorts of tall buildings imaginatively titled Govt building no 1, no 2 etc. What did surprise me was the large number of homeless living under the underpass, right beneath the law makers. I was a bit apprehensive at walking through there after dark but they were a quiet, law abiding lot who stacked their cardboard boxes neatly in the morning. On the Saturday there seemed to he a distribution of food boxes and I was amazed as several men and women queued for this largesse.

The Knot Shinjuku Hotel was quite trendy - it seemed to attract a youngish crowd, both local and international, although there were people my age as well. I got talking at the bar to a young Japanese man (I thought he was American) and his girlfriend, who worked as asset managers for the owners of the hotel. They were working and living in the hotel.

I didn't have a lot of time but I managed to find some freebie attractions. There is an observatory on the 45th floor of one of the government buildings which you just walk into. Not as high as the Skytree but close. I also visited an interesting little museum (also up high on the 33rd floor. I'm not a big fan of high floors). This was about the Japanese experience in Manchuria and the Russian gulag at the end of the Second World War. They glossed over the reasons why Japan was in Manchuria and why the Chinese had no great love for them. It seems to be set up for schools so it's interesting to see what they're taught. The museum was quite hard to find and a young government employee took me to the right floor. I asked her why she was at work on a Saturday - she just laughed and said she was busy.

Saturday morning I headed to Shibuya and Harajuku for a whistle stop tour. I'd checked out about 6 department stores on Friday night but nothing really grabbed me. I liked Shibuya - it seemed quite edgy but I wondered who bought all this stuff. There were designer shops galore - Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Gucci - often with long queues outside but I noticed a lot of people looking and not many buying.

And that was the end of my trip.

Some suggestions for anyone travelling to Japan:

  • Pack light. You really don't want to be hauling massive suitcases through the large stations. There are thousands of people using them, the escalators are narrow and often there are stairs you have to carry bags up. Everywhere I stayed had a coin laundry- cheaper than NZ so you don't need to take a lot.
  • Go beyond the Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka triangle. There are some amazing lesser known parts of the country which are fantastic for cycling or walking. By the same token try to avoid travelling in a large group all the time. You will have very limited interaction with Japanese people if you do this.
  • Take a little washable rubbish bag (nylon would do) and a small hand towel. There are very few bins anywhere but the streets are amazingly clean. People carry their rubbish around with them. And the hand towel you need to dry your hands. Japanese toilets have all the bells and whistles but usually nothing to dry your hands on.
  • Use travel apps such as Google and Navitime. They work well together to plan your public transport.
  • Wear a mask on public transport or inside buildings. It's a small thing to do and I think Japanese people appreciate it. They have a large number of elderly people who are vulnerable to illness. It's consideration pure and simple- just think of it as behaving appropriately in someone else's house.
  • Take cash to change at the currency exchange because they dont take cards. Or use a Wise card at the 7-11 stores to withdraw cash. While you can use cards in some places, most people still seem to prefer cash. I found that hugely annoying but you just have to get used to it. They sell dozens of women's change purses for that purpose.
  • Fruit is surprisingly hard to find so when you see some grab it. And if you ask for a drink, specify that you want it hot, otherwise you will get a cold drink with lots of ice cubes.
  • Japan follows the American system in some things. So the 1st floor is what we call the ground floor and their dates are month/day/year.
  • Learn a few key words - sumimasen (excuse me), konnichiwa (hello), thank you (arrigato) and use a translation app. I found Google Translate good for simple stuff and their camera tool for translating food and the like was also good.

Do your research - Japanese websites provide a mountain of information. I often found it too much so it takes to digest.

Posted by Pepperismybaby 01:21 Archived in Japan

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

thanks for sharing your trip and your tips as well! :)

by Ils1976

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login