My first full day in Japan, and we decided to head over to Shinjoku. This is an area of amusements, government buildings, and it also happens to be right next to what is considered the red light district – though many might think of this as falling under the “amusements” category. There are noodle shops for lunch and more formal restaurants and bars for dinner, along with a number of arcades and pachinko parlors – all seemingly designed to keep the businessman going until he goes home.
One of the really cool things about Japan is the number of vending machines. There aren’t as many vending machines that serve beer as there used to be, but there are still plenty of cigarette machines. Much more plentiful are the ones that peddle soda, water and teas. What’s really cool is that there are recycling spots all throughout to help cut down on litter as well as helping do the environmentally friendly thing.
There are a number of very tall buildings in Tokyo, some of which are rather famous, some of which are just cool looking. We did a self guided walking tour of the area based on information in one of the guidebooks that I had checked out from the library. The problem with this information was that the book was a few years old, so some of the information was mistaken.
One of the things that was not mistaken was the ability to go up to the top of one of the buildings and get a rather commanding view of the area.
It took some doing, but one of the things in the guide book sounded rather interesting – the world’s largest pendulum clock. It took a while to find it because there is a lot of construction going on (reinforcing buildings against giant monster attacks – if those documentary films are to be believed) and the fact that it was inside of a building meant that we first had to find the building, which is a little easier said than done, even when one of your maps shows the area in English because everything in the area isn’t.
It didn’t take too much doing, but we eventually found the right building, wandered in and there in the lobby was this very big clock. The picture may not do it justice, but this was a rather impressive sight. It’s rather interesting how many really big things there are in Japan, at least in Tokyo.
Wandering around the area we came across a shrine that seemed to be just peacefully removed from the hustle and bustle of the area. There were some cherry blossoms beginning to bloom, and it was very nice. Just down the block and across the street, however, was a building with a giant crab on the side.
There is a lot in this area. I played pachinko on a Space battleship Yamamoto (Star Blazers) machine. It wasn’t nearly as fun as I was hoping, partly because the way I’m used to playing pachinko was on a machine from the 70′s, completely mechanical without screens and flashing lights. I also wandered around a number of shops, picked up a couple of books of Japanese children’s tales for my kids (the books are in English, thanks for checking), bought a CAT-5 cable so that I could plug into the router of my host so that I can get online, had some food, and simply just soaked in the experience.
After this, we travelled back to the house where we are staying at, had dinner and I was able to get on the internet and get some stuff done. Dinner, a little more work, and it was bed time to get ready for another day in Japan.