I continue to work through my library of photographs from the last decade I’ve spent here in Japan. Currently I’m back in 2008, a time when I took a lot of landscapes, cityscapes, and “omoshiroi mono” interesting objects, in day and at night, in fair weather and foul, in various states of decay and renewal. See some of the most popular recent uploads below, and visit my galleries at https://500px.com/tokyoaaron/galleries to view the uploads to date. Enjoy!
Shinjuku is a micro-cosm of the city as a whole. A circumnavigation of Shinjuku Station reveals to the visitor Tokyo high city and low, from Asia’s largest blue-light district to the international architecture of the Skyscraper District, the unique six-block warren of hipster dive bars that is Golden Gai, Shinto shrines and shopping areas, and more. This photo gallery, made up of images taken over 13+ years of my time in Shinjuku, complements the visitor’s guide I recently posted, Tokyo High City and Low.
Shinjuku Station and Area “A perfect storm of busy-ness”
Shinjuku North Side: Kabukicho; Golden Gai; Hanazono Shrine; Skyscraper District
Almost two decades ago, I landed in Japan on what was to be a three-year overseas adventure from my home in Canada. I’m still here, but that’s another story…. Those first days in-country, while my then-partner — I’ll call her Achan — attended orientation training at the Keio Park Plaza hotel before being posted to rural Hokkaido to help “internationalize” the countryside (but that’s still another story…) I spun out a jet-lagged fugue through the neon canyonlands and narrow sidestreets of Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighbourhood. You know: the setting for Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Bill Murray? That was me. Minus the hair. And Scarlett Johansson.
After three years Achan returned to her family in suburban Calgary. After another year, in central Hokkaido this time, I relocated to Tokyo for some big-city adventure.
Now, thirteen years later, I live in a comfortable if un-cinematic neighbourhood in west Tokyo. Every day, on the commute, I pass through labyrinthian Shinjuku Station.
“There are eight million stories in the naked city,” to paraphrase The Naked City. And more than three million of them pass through Shinjuku each day. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Shinjuku Station as the“world’s busiest station”. Channel5’s recent documentary “World’s Busiest: Station” gets it right: “a perfect storm of busy-ness.”
Northwest of Shinjuku Station towers “Tokyo the International City.”
Here, starting in the 1970s and growing along with the infamous Bubble Economy of the 1980s, a former working class neighbourhood and student ghetto were razed to make way for a new generation of skyscrapers and international hotels.
A “vertical garden city” for the people, or gated community of 1%ers? Still not clear on this myself. Maybe a bit of both? Mori Tower stands as the centrepiece of the complex, 54 floors of mostly office space with top-shelf tenants including Apple, Barclays Bank, Google, Lenovo, Nokia, and The Pokemon Company. True, Mori Art Museum and Skyview is open to the public, but access is by way of a separate entrance. Also true there are a variety of facilities around the base of the tower, including shops and restaurants, a movie theatre, a stroll garden, and event space, again all open to the public – though separated from the surrounding neighbourhood by walls breached in a couple of places by staircases and the glass, guard-tower-like Metro Hat.
Tokyo Midtown is an Artsy Multiplex in Roppongi, Tokyo
I’ve said it before: I kinda like Tokyo Midtown. It might be a high-end mall, any place that host both a photography gallery (Fujifilm Square) and a Tado Ando-designed exhibition space has something working right.