ONE NIGHT IN TOKYO: SHINJUKU
The vibrant Shinjuku area of Tokyo is filled with attractions, and though it was cancelled due to the pandemic the 2020 Olympics were scheduled to be here. The area is also a popular choice because it is centered around a busy Bullet Train station. I checked into a hotel for just one night, and I definitely absorbed the energetic flavor of the area and managed to see quite a bit.
|fall color on streets of Tokyo, Japan|
Shinjuku Washington Hotel 3-2-9, Nishi-shinjuku, 03-3343-3111. Well located, this bustling hotel is just a short walk from the famous Shinjuku section of town. Though it had the smallest room I encountered during my visit to Japan, it manages to include a deep furo soaking tub in each teeny, tiny bathroom . . . and the price is right. I enjoyed meeting the robot valet that hangs out in the lobby in between room service runs, and many small shops operate on the floors below the lobby. During my visit to Japan, I stayed at many sister properties, and all of them provided a white cotton nightgown that buttons down the front--something I started looking forward to each night. And here, a buffet breakfast was served on a high floor permitting lovely area views.
Across the street sits lovely Shinjuku Central Park as well as some of Tokyo’s tallest skyscrapers. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building No.1, which is the tallest city hall in the world, offers free observation decks.
|guest room in Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo, Japan|
|robot valet at Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo, Japan|
|breakfast buffet with a view at Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo, Japan|
Park Hyatt Tokyo Occupies 39th-52nd floors. Celebrated for being designed by famous architect Kenzo Tange, this skyscraper might be even more famous for its supporting role in the movie Lost in Translation. Even if you don’t stay here, you’ll want to stop in for a drink at the New York Bar on the 52nd floor. Its cool 65-foot-long, four-lane indoor pool--where Bill Murray took a dip in the movie--has floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji, and a glass pyramid-shaped ceiling allows in natural light.
stroll through Shinjuku
The walk from the hotel to the train station passes an intriguing collection of shops and restaurants. Along the way, the back alley streets are highly interesting. Known as Golden Gai, these narrow streets are lined with small bars with just a few seats. Some are at ground level, while others are positioned up steep staircases, and many are open only to locals. It is on one of these streets that my companion and I found a big bank of vending machines, and the equivalent of US$2 popped out a darling miniature vinyl dog that looked just like her own at home making it the perfect souvenir.
|Shinjuku streets in rain in Tokyo, Japan|
|bright lights on Shinjuku streets in Tokyo, Japan|
Takashimaya Department Store Located in the Times Square area adjacent to the train station, this is considered to be the area’s best department store. Exhibitions and Japanese goods are on floor 11, while a food hall occupies the entire basement and restaurants occupy the top three floors (12-14) referred to as Restaurants Park. After zipping through several of the shopping floors, I headed to the basement and zeroed in on a scrumptious almond croissant from Maison Kayser to take back to my room for dinner. My drink was a bottle of the hotel’s Mt. Fuji spring water.
|basement food hall at Takashimaya Department Store in Tokyo, Japan|
if I’d had more time
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Near the train station. Tu-Sun 9am-4pm; closed M. 500 yen. Stretched over 144 acres, this former imperial garden became a national garden after World War II. The park holds native and traditional gardens as well as French Formal and English Landscape gardens, plus a spectacular Taiwan Pavilion that perches beside a serene pond.
Yayoi Kusama Museum Thur-M. 1,100 yen. Located off the beaten path in a suburban district of Shinjuku, this slim 5-story white building is devoted to displaying the larger-than-life and avant-garde works of artist Yayoi Kusama. Installations include her newish "infinity room" series (an Instagram sensation), polka-dot paintings, and sculptures. Note that visitors are limited to only 200 per day.
|polka dot shoes by Yayoi Kusama, displayed at SFO airport in San Francisco, California|
In Japan living space is at a premium and most landlords do not permit pets, so cat cafes are a popular and ingenious solution. Patrons pay an hourly fee (usually about US$10 per hour) for a cup of coffee or tea to enjoy amid free-roaming cats.
Located in the center of Shinjuku, the Calico Cat Cafe opened in 2007 and has about 20 cats representing 17 breeds. Rules include not waking a sleeping cat and not bringing catnip in to the cafe.
Note that the first cat cafe in the U.S. opened in Oakland, California in 2014.
Like most U.S. cat cafes, Cat Town adopts out the cats.
More things to do in Japan.
Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.
images and video ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers