Shinjuku North Side Drift: Red Lights to Skyscrapers


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.”

Continue reading “Shinjuku North Side Drift: Red Lights to Skyscrapers”


Tokyo Photo Gallery: Shinjuku’s Skyscraper District

Shinjuku Skyscraper DistrictNorthwest 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.

Not everyone likes what’s happened to the old neighbourhood. Keizo Hino describes the area in his story, “Jacob’s Tokyo Ladder:” Continue reading “Tokyo Photo Gallery: Shinjuku’s Skyscraper District”

Tokyo Photo Gallery: Roppongi Hills

“Japan’s largest urban redevelopment project.”

Roppongi Hills

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.

Continue reading “Tokyo Photo Gallery: Roppongi Hills”

Tokyo Photo Gallery: Tokyo Midtown

Tokyo Midtown is an Artsy Multiplex in Roppongi, Tokyo

Tokyo Midtown

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.

Continue reading “Tokyo Photo Gallery: Tokyo Midtown”

Tokyo Photo Walk: Golden Gai

Friday Night, Golden Gai

Friday night photo walk, Golden Gai

Another Friday, another trip to Golden Gai. Not that I’m complaining. It’s actually great to have such an interesting part of Tokyo on my commute line. No doubt the area is changing, and not wholly for the good: last night, for the first time, a tout hit me up within Golden Gai itself – albeit near one of the entrances:

“Good evening sir! We have a new international bar. ‘Happy Endings.'”

Hopefully this won’t become the new norm, as it has in Kabukicho and Roppongi. Continue reading “Tokyo Photo Walk: Golden Gai”

Roppongi Photo Drift: Tokyo Midtown

cherry blossom season in Tokyo is almost two weeks later this year than last, according to JNTO’s webpage, The Bloom of Cherry Blossoms 2014. Sure enough, when I tripped down to Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi yesterday to check on the Midtown Blossom 2014, there was nary a petal to be seen – or photographed. I did, however, take a few snaps in black and white, and enjoyed being in town on a day off, so it wasn’t a waste…

Tomorrow, off to Kanazawa on the overnight bus!


Tokyo Photo: Takadanobaba Station, Morning Commute

Because of the cold, wintry weather, the morning commute has been even more medokusai, troublesome, than usual. Here are scenes of the transfer from Seibu Shinjuku Line to Yamanote Line on Monday, February 17, 2014. As you can see in the last picture, I sought refuge in the station’s Starbucks. I wasn’t the only one…

Takadanobaba Station Continue reading “Tokyo Photo: Takadanobaba Station, Morning Commute”