There are two special wards of Tokyo City that you shouldn’t miss visiting when you get to Japan. One is Shinjuku, the other is Shibuya. Both have a character of its own. Well, that’s how I perceived it to be, at least, when I was here. Though me and my friends were pressed for time, we tried our best to take in all the sights we could see with our trusty digicams.
Whenever we hop on and off the subway train, I realized life in Tokyo never stops. The swath of people boarding in and out of railway transportation, the neon lights of skyscraper buildings here are lit in neon anarchy. Instead of annoyance, the noise, the bright lights actually had a mesmerizing effect on me. It was something I found myself ready to embrace.
Shinjuku is considered a major commercial and administrative center and which houses the busiest train station in the world, the Shinjuku station (S: Wikipedia). It’s also home to hotels, department stores, cinemas, restaurants and bars as well as residential and commercial areas. Like Akihabara, Tokyo’s popular e-town, one can also find so many electronic and camera shops here. We actually entered one department store but we’re not allowed to take pictures inside.
It was campaign period in Japan when we got here for the two-week cultural study program. We caught sight of a group of politicians campaigning after exiting the Shinjuku station. I’m not used to see how political groups here campaign. Unlike in the Philippines, where it is usually boisterous and filled with onlookers, the public here doesn’t seem to mind them.
Because we already felt hunger pangs we decided to check out “hole-in-the-wall” cafeterias in alleyways to decide where we would eat dinner.
We found a cozy eatery after an hour of scouring the streets and settled comfortably while waiting for the ramen we ordered and watched how the Japanese locals look and live in every day life…
If you want an authentic taste of Japanese ramen I guess you’d just have to find small restaurant shops like this one we’ve found. Unlike the noodles I’m used to, their noodles are bit chewy but the taste is superb (a testament to its authenticity). Don’t be surprised then if even businessmen in their black immaculate suits seats next to you and you see them wolfing down a bowlful of ramen.
As a foodie, I wouldn’t miss trying this, even though I’m not really used to venturing into street food. It’s really nice to see people from different walks of life sitting down in a corner like this and enjoy sumptuous street food paired with sake (Japanese rice wine).
Shibuya, on the other hand, is a popular hub for the young Japanese generation and a major nightlife area. It is also a popular destination for fashionistas. As a central business district, it has a right to compete for attention with the 23 other designated special wards of Tokyo. It is widely acknowledge as one of the fashion centers of Japan.
Remember to enter Shibuya 109, a shopping center just near the Shibuya station, when you get here. Harajuku, a residential area in Shibuya is also a popular venue for cosplay addicts and J-pop fashion fanatics. 🙂