During my last trip to Tokyo, over Christmas 2014, I stayed at an airbnb in Shinjuku. I would highly recommend staying in Shinjuku despite being amongst office buildings rather than cute house lined streets like Harajuku. The Shinjuku train station is of course the biggest in the world and a central position to get wherever you need to go. The Narita Express stops there and the airport bus goes to many hotels and the station in the area too. Our airbnb was a little distance to the station which meant a 10 minute walk there and then back every day but we were just around the corner from an airport bus hotel so getting in and out was really easy, and who doesn’t need a bit of a workout after eating all the fabulous food on offer in Tokyo? The best part of Shinjuku train station is the 3 or 4 restaurant “malls”. You can get to them from a few different lifts scattered around the station and there are at least 4 levels for each of all sorts of restaurants and dessert places. You’ll never be without a place to eat staying in this area! Include all the shops in Lumine Est, 1st and 2nd, plus underground tunnel shopping areas – you could almost do everything in the station alone, let alone the great shopping and food on the east side! Well, enough with the sale pitch and let’s get on with the photos…
December is a really lovely time to go to Japan. You still have a lot of the autumn-y trees around with their yellow leaves. Sometimes it feels like you’re in an anime because the leaves fall around you constantly. It was sunshine almost every day, too, despite being under 10 degrees. This was part of our walk to the train station from our airbnb.
Another perk for December travel is how crazy they go for Christmas and decorations! Even though the film is a bit old now, they had a Frozen theme in Lumine. The only warning I can give is the stark difference between December 25th and 26th. Boxing Day you’ll come out from your apartment and find all the Christmas decorations gone like as if it never happened haha.
Our first Shinjuku station meal, though it was Western rather than Japanese. Breakfast food from Sarabeth’s! This is the Tokyo branch of a New York restaurant. My partner had eggs benedict which was very popular while we were there and I had the pancakes. It seems like everyone else was having an eggs benedict each and then sharing the pancakes afterwards. I will say, Japanese strawberries are very sweet!
We wandered around for much longer than we should have trying to look for the Shinjuku Tower Records and we finally found it after some back tracking and looking at Google! It was inside Flags, which you’ll find from the South-East exit. It has a Gap on its ground floor. Go up the lifts to get to Tower Records! The location is fairly well stocked with 4 levels if I remember correctly. Though I still recommend going to the Shibuya store which has a lot more range and listening stations.
Inside Flags we thought it was amusing that a store was called NOJESS, since my name is Jess, get it? Oh well, it was funny while we were there! The store sold handbags! Also, you’ll find this is the set up for most shopping centres and each store has a lovely personalised area, though it’s all open. They’re like stall shops!
The view opposite Flags. Most popular areas in Tokyo are definitely a feast for the eyes. So brightly coloured and filled with ads and signs.
A nighttime look through the restaurant and bar area in the West. Look out for the drunk business men!
Another meal from a train station restaurant “mall”. This is their version of a salisbury steak or burger meat. Mine has teriyaki sauce and it comes with small salad, egg, grated radish and smiley face potatoes! Surprisingly delicious!
Want dessert to take away? There’s never any lack of options! Sometimes it can be a little tricky ordering the right cake but lots of pointing and nodding and smiling should do the trick. They pack the slices up in cute boxes with cutlery and ice packs so they make it back to your place unscathed.
Each restaurant in these malls have their own little area and feel like any other restaurant you go into off the street. This one was a special limited pop-up which was all tomatoes and cheese based! I thought it looked very festive actually.
Our meal from the pop-up restaurant. Ramen with a cheesy tomato soup, heavily peppered/spiced rice and cheese gyoza. It didn’t taste like Western tomato soups or anything, it was very different but really yummy! Just what you want to fill your belly and warm yourself up before the cold walk home with your box of cake.
That’s the end of Part One. The next and final part should be posted soon! If you have been to Shinjuku, what are your favourite places?