April in Shinjuku

Back in April, we stayed at Shinjuku in Tokyo. There’s a lot to do there; we did not anticipate walking as much as we did in Japan. Eventually my feet hurt so much that later on during our trip, I had to make a stop at Muji to buy some comfier shoes. This time, I’m sneakering it all the way (except on rainy days). Here are some pictures.

One of our favorite ramen shops in Tokyo was Ramen Nagi. As with most of the bars in Golden Gai, this one is super tiny. Probably seats about 7-10 people max, and your back is literally against the wall. We came here during lunch and there was a short line of salarymen in the tiny alley next to the restaurant. Once it’s your turn, you walk up the narrow stairs and order your food through a vending machine (another wonderful feature of Japan – just put in your money, make your selection, and hand the cook your receipt). Ramen Nagi’s specialty is a dry fish-based soup. A lot of the ramen places we went to in Japan typically specialize in one type of broth, and you get to choose how strong you want it to be, unlike the multi-flavored ramen here in New York.

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We saw a couple of belligerently drunk people during our stay. At night, men and women would stagger on the streets – I was honestly concerned they might walk into traffic. This guy was passed out even during the day. The officer here tried to wake him up. Gotta say, the police in Tokyo are really nice.

 

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Of course, Tokyo is also famous for their vending machines. They’re mostly 100¥ and up. The cheapest ones we found were by Shinsekai in Osaka. There are cold and hot drinks; cold drinks have a blue sticker underneath and hot drinks have a red sticker. I made the mistake of ordering a hot peach drink on a hot day, but at least it tasted good?

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While walking around Shinjuku, we stumbled upon the Hanazono Shrine (花園神社) and stopped by to check out the cherry blossoms and pay our respects with an offering, then clapping our hands and ringing the massive bells. It’s one of the most beautiful shrines we saw on our trip. I love how you can walk down a busy city street and find such a serene oasis in the middle of it. Best part was there weren’t a ton of people there like at some other Tokyo shrines.

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If you’re an art nerd like me, you would absolutely love Sekaido. It’s a 6-story art store right by Shinjuku Gyoen. I think Itoya might be more popular as a stationery store, but Sekaido is definitely a better art store to me. Plus, everything is 20% off retail! I bought a ton of supplies…and planning on returning soon to stock up on even more.

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I think we might’ve been inside Odakyu department store when I took this photo of Shinjuku at night. There are so many department stores right next to each other. How does one choose? I was looking for a pair of shoes and instead found a ton of nearly identical short, plain black heels on display. Definitely geared towards salarywomen. Many girls there also wear socks with their heels or sandals, a fashion faux pas in New York, but who am I to judge?

Speaking of “fashion,” be prepared to suffer from allergies if you go to Tokyo during cherry blossom season. We had to buy face masks to ward off the pollen, and ended up blending in with other Japanese. It was kind of chilly, so the masks kind of doubled as face warmers, too.

More Tokyo fun later! Hope you enjoyed this 🙂

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