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Tokyo Day 1 – Wandering around Shinjuku Nichō

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I promised a few more details and pics of my Japan trip… so here goes!

Before I left Mumbai, I consulted with a friend who lives in Tokyo for what to do in my ONE free day… His advice was:

  • Airport to hotel only long enough to check-in and dump bags
  • Head straight to Tsukiji – Fish Market – noting that while I would miss the really active early morning, even the outer edge is remarkable
  • Walk to the Hamarikyu Gardens and have the maccha green tea
  • Take a boat from there to the Asakusa Kannon temple
  • Catch the subway back to the Hotel
  • Nap (he’s done enough overnight Tokyo – Mumbai trips to know!)
  • Go to the Robo Bar for the evening’s entertainment

It sounded ambitious but amusing.

And the reality? Far from the recommendations!

Tokyo Day 1

Landed at Narita International Airport…  which apparently handles a mere 35+ million passengers each year. We were delayed leaving Kuala Lumpur so late arriving – hilarious seeing how the head flight steward was chaffing at the delay – practically apoplectic!

Yipee! Landed in Tokyo!

Yipee! Landed in Tokyo!

Transportation delays and traffic from Narita airport to the hotel meant I reached far later than expected – well past the point where going to the fish market made sense!

Alas my ankle was unhappy about two flights, some standing and a little hobbling, so was vociferously protesting… which meant, before anything else… I needed do a little elevation and icing.

Which translated roughly into lying ‘for a moment’ on the crisp white sheets of the hotel room…. Groan…. Moan… You guessed it! As soon as I was horizontal, I was asleep!

Tokyo Hotel View

Tokyo Hotel View

After the short nap, made myself semi-presentable, grabbed my trusty crutches and hopped next door for a bite – still with visions of adventures dancing in my head.

Wandered past the Opera House and a series of busy restaurants… all catering to the lunch working crowd with nearly everyone dinning solo – a rarity in my more usual haunts of Mumbai yet apparently quite normal in Tokyo.

Tokyo Opera

Tokyo Opera

I found it insanely difficult choosing a place to eat, so kept hobbling until just had to stop! Entered, pointed out my order and – Yum!

Drool worthy lunch

Drool worthy lunch

Now knowing anything involving long walks was out of the question, I decided to focus on efficient ways to achieve my food and whisky goals with other sights and experiences a happy by-products!

I asked the receptionist to help me look up where I could potentially track down a few more unusual whiskies – Shinanoya Whisky Shop. Together we looked up a few places and though local transit sounded easy enough to navigate under normal circumstances, decided to splurge on a taxi.

Armed with an address, directions for the driver, I ventured forth to an interesting part of the city – the heart of Shinjuku Ni-chōme or simply Nichō area. It is an area known for gay bars, restaurants, cafes, saunaslove hotelsgay pride boutiques, cruising boxes (hattenba), host clubsnightclubsmassage parlors, parks, and gay book and video stores.

A different kind of men's studio...

A different kind of men’s studio…

While there were distractions a plenty, my destination was still whisky. I was dropped off at a store that had an amazing selection of everything – except for the more unusual Japanese whiskies I sought! Bugger!

Eeny meany miny mo...

Eeny meany miny mo…

They recommended Isetan Shinjuku department store… which was by that time already closing… so I knew would need to be patient til the next evening.

So what’s a gal to do?

Wander around and enjoy the colourful sights, people and more til again – ankle said ‘no more’ and I found a spot to whet my whistle and enjoy dinner.

I had clicked some zany wacky shots of my wanders on the camera that did not survive! One of the few from near this area was a caffeine / booze joint…

Hmmm.... coffee and whisky?

Hmmm…. coffee and whisky?

After passing a plethora of fake food displays, found a cosy little bar where people actually – gasp! – were talking to each other as opposed to solo diners! (sorry but I find that rather depressing)

Fake food

Fake food

However I was a little out-of-place as I was :

  1. A foreign lass
  2. Actually a lass and not a lad
  3. Generally interested in the opposite gender
Kirin beer

Quaffing time!

I hopped up on the bar stool and quaffed my beverage. Then was joined by a friendly older couple – one sported a very multi-coloured golf shirt (mostly hot pink!) with a jaunty cap and the other had a bright grin that outshone even his companions shirt! (no mean feat that!)

They struck up a conversation after ascertaining that I indeed DID know which area of town I was (and hadn’t wandered there by mistake), and then the Canada card resulted in a merry exchange of travel tales, Canadians they knew and other sundry topics! They found it odd that I live in India but that lead to an even more convoluted and amusing conversation.

Though thoroughly enjoying the entertaining discussions, decided to be a responsible sort. Sigh… so stopped with my one beer to flag down another taxi to the hotel to do a final run-through of the material and at least attempt to be fully rested n ready for conducting the programme the next day.

I did, after all, have the challenge of doing better than the last foreign trainer who decidedly did NOT impress!

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  1. Rather much program for a day. I don’t know if I do something like that 🙂

  2. Aw, what a shame you were lumbered with that uncooperative dodgy ankle. At least you still managed to have fun 🙂

  3. Sarah M says:

    The fake food is my overriding memory of Tokyo. I was there a long time ago and I’d love to go back. I was only there 3 days, so not much better.

    • Haha! Glad I’m not the only one with the fake food fascination. 🙂 And completely agree – 3 days in Tokyo is enough to seriously whet the appetite but no where near satisfactory. Me want more!!

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