Our journey continues in Shinjuku, an area within Tokyo itself. We stayed there in the Hanabi hotel at the edge of the area. As opposed to the mattresses we had in the hotel before this, we had traditional futons, which were (surprisingly enough) not that much different except for the fact you’re sleeping on the ground.
In the evening we went looking for a nice place to have a drink. Which lead us to the Foxgod cafe. This was a rock/metal cafe, but completely dedicated to babymetal, a band we just went to see a show off before our trip to Japan. The people at the cafe were super nice and enough though we had a language barrier they went to make conversation with us. Really a recommendation!
In the main party area we didn’t have as much luck to find nice places to have out. We got asked if we maybe wanted to ‘touch the girls’ by some random guy in the street, which is a big scam which we are not in for. So be aware of people that have really good english are and clearly not really japanese!
To get an idea of what’s around we went to check out Gyoen national park. The park was really big for something in the middle of a big city (by the way this wasn’t even the biggest) and was separated in different styles of gardening. We started at the japanese gardens. These were all neatly maintained till in the smallest details (see photo X). Next up we went to the english gardens, these were mostly big fields with huge baffling trees. The park was filled with explanation signs talking about all the different plants. Parks in Japan usually have a small fee they use to maintain the park.
The second park was the Meiji Jingyu Shrine which also had a forest around it. The entry next to the Harajuku train station was a gigantic gate. A wide path led us to the shrine. A beautiful forest which will once again make you forget you’re actually in one of the biggest cities of the world. The park has a surface area of 70 hectare with 365 different species of trees that were donated when the park was founded (120.000 trees total). Inside this area there also was a big garden. This also had a small entrance fee which allows you to visit the former garden of the emperor Meiji. On the side of the garden there was a path, if followed will lead to sort of a wishing well. Whatever you do don’t touch the well, it said the the sign next to it. There was personal to guide people to see into the well. Here we also got the chance to talk to some of the japanese people, which proudly talked about the healing powers of the hot springs that he had visited.
Lastly i took a day to travel around by myself for a bit. The first stop was as a Super Potato, the 2nd one because i also went to one in akihabara. As to be expected i got a few things there i couldn’t leave behind like a Famicon, the average prices were also lower at this location. For this trip i had researched if there were any special Arcade machines i could check out. After some googeling i found a location on my path. Travel is mostly really simple, most people have the image of stuffed trains. But in reality it’s not that bad at all, this is partly because of the fact there is just 5 minutes between each train.
After my arrival i was shocked they had 2 ITG machines. Especially because ITG is something you usually find in America, not japan!. The owner of the place told me these 2 were the only ones in Japan. The people there were nice, it didn’t much to feel at home. Logically i played a bit on every machine there. The same evening we played my newly achieved Famicon at the hotel connected to the TV there. Playing retro games till late in the night.
Author Benjamin Vitters
English translation door Anton Grootes
Japanese translation door Niek Nooijens