-Shinjuku smells like sweet baked goods
-Until you get a wiff of sewerage
-Everyone is extremely kind and patient
So! We hopped off our plane and stumbled sleepily through Japanese customs. As part of your entry into Japan, they take a photo of you and a copy of the finger prints from both your index fingers!! It felt a little futuristic!
Once out of customs we headed towards the train. We stopped by a small booth called Xcomm, where we’re purchased a little portable, prepaid wifi router. (This tiny little device would soon become our very best friend!!)
We spent an eternity in a queue waiting to have our Japan Rail Passes activated. Then we finally got on the train towards Tokyo and Shinjuku.
The train was our first opportunity to see Japan. We travelled through country, suburbia, and city. The country areas were WAY more built up than we expected. And the cities were greener than we could have ever imagined. It feels like everything is surrounded by forests and paddocks in Tokyo!!
Shinjuku, at a first (and tired) impression, is pretty overwhelming. Advertising everywhere, people bustling to and fro. Our tired little brains were completely overstimulated, so we took ourselves to lunch.
Our first Japanese meal was lovely, if a little nerve wracking. All of the restaurants in Shinjuku were either up or down some very narrow stairs, which would have been très amusant with our suitcases.
We found a restaurant with an elevator, and we ventured down into a basement level. Boyfriend and I garbled some Japanese at the waiter, who sweetly sat us in a little booth, and brought us some menus in English. (Thank fuck!)
Over lunch we played the Not-So-Fun game of “Holy shit! We can’t find our apartment on Apple Maps!”. But thankfully our host was ready and waiting with links and helpful hints to send us.
We stumbled our way from Shinjuku to Nishi-Shinjuku, while managing to miss all the the major sights along the way. (Winning!)
We squeezed through a narrow back alley, with tiny little houses bumping against large apartment buildings. When we finally we found our apartment. We dropped our suitcases, flopped on the bed, and held each other.
Our poor exhausted everythings.
After a short rest, we headed into the late afternoon seeking sights, and sounds, and more foods!!
Not far from our new digs, we found Shinjuku Chuo Park.
The stillness in this park was confounding.
Less than 10 minutes away from the hustle of Shinjuku station. Across the street from the government sector. Somehow Chuo Park was the picture of tranquility.
The trees were still all green, and the afternoon light gave them a shadowy softness. The ambling walking paths would lead you to small shrines, sculptures, or viewing spots.
Boyfriend and I discovered an amphitheater, that was full of life.
One group was playing basket ball, a young boy was practicing his soccer, small children played on the Stoney wall, a young crew practiced their dance moves, all while an elderly man practiced a shakey version of ‘Oh Danny Boy’ on the saxophone.
Looming over this scene was the Shinjuku Government building.
Like something out Metropolis, this magnificent building was huge and regal and awe inspiring.
We wandered through the silent bridges that lead into the government section.
We ping-ponged around Shinjuku for a while. Every building was ablaze with light, all the people were laughing and bustling around us.
We had a little dinner, we wandered back to the apartment, and we chattered excitedly about all of our discoveries. We slept like happy little children on Christmas Day, with full bellies and big plans.