Back to Shinjuku

On the fourth day of my third trip to Japan, I traveled back to Shinjuku from Akihabara Station. Shinjuku is one of the many special wards in Tokyo and is primarily a commercial and administrative hub. It is also home to Kabukicho, the infamous red light entertainment district. I stayed in the center of Kabukicho back in 2017 at the Hotel Gracery, which towers above TOHO Cinemas Shinjuku. In the five years since I had last visited, not much had changed. The only closure I noted was the Robot Restaurant.

I stopped by TOHO Cinemas to use the bathroom and saw that Deer Hunter (1978) was playing. With a run time of over three hours, I decided to purchase a ticket to kill some time before businesses opened. I happened to have purchased a ticket for a seat in-between two groups of people. Which meant that I had to step over multiple people in a darkened theater while I excused myself. It was awkward but I thought it was unique to be able to watch Deer Hunter in Tokyo.

City street in Shinjuku with the Hotel Gracery in the background.

After I exited TOHO Cinemas around noon, I went into a restaurant called Toriyoshi near the theater for lunch and ordered tonkatsu. The meal came with the fried pork cutlets, a sizable bowl of white rice, a bowl of chicken broth and some sort of sauce to dip the tonkatsu in. I had an easier time with the chopsticks this time around and enjoyed the food.

The first attraction for the day was the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, one of the tallest structures in Tokyo. The building has two observatories above six hundred feet and is free to the public. That day, only the east observatory was open. I rode an elevator up with a few other people and was pleased with the views immediately. Tokyo seemed to just go on forever in every direction. Mount Fuji, although far away, was also visible in the distance from one side of the observatory.

The east observation deck of the Tokyo Government Building.
Cityscape of Shinjuku and greater Tokyo area.

It was a beautiful day outside, so I walked over to Shinjuku Central Park afterwards to relax. Shinjuku Central Park is the largest park in Shinjuku and was a short walk from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The park is not extremely large but had multiple areas for picnics. There was also a sizable basketball court. I purchased a bottle of orange juice from a vending machine and relaxed on a bench for awhile. Nearby, I could hear a man tuning his guitar.

Afterwards, I walked back into the city to Kinokuniya’s main book store. There were six floors of books, manga, magazines and stationary. Initially I tried to see if I could find any manga for I Am a Hero or The Fable but was not lucky. On the language floor, I browsed through various common language book titles such as Genki and the Minna No Nihongo series. Since I already owned Genki 1, I purchased a Japanese language book that covered 60 Japanese conversational expressions by Yuka Murakami.

For a second lunch or rather an early dinner, I went to Hoshino Coffee for the thick fluffy pancakes I saw advertised in the window. It was a popular upscale restaurant with posh leather seats. I had to wait around twenty minutes for a table but it was well worth the wait. Two pancakes along with a glass of water was around 2,000 yen. I sat awhile to eat and began to read the book I had bought at the bookstore.

Towards the late afternoon, I made my way to the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel. I had recently watched Lost in Translation and wanted to see if I could snag a drink at the New York Bar on the 52nd floor of the hotel. I knew the bar opened at 5pm, so I wanted to arrive early enough to have a chance at a good seat. Upon arrival at The Shinjuku Park Tower, a security guard on the ground floor guided me to an elevator for the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Once on the 41st floor, another security guard took me to a second elevator that was for the upper floors and the New York Bar.

The moment the elevator doors opened on the 52nd floor, a hostess promptly asked if I wanted to go to the bar or the grill next door. I made sure to say bar as I knew there was a strict dress code for the restaurant side. As I was brought into the bar by the hostess, I thought that I would be seated away from the windows but the hostess placed me at a table closest to the main window of the New York Bar. The table provided an absolutely massive view of Shinjuku and the greater Tokyo area. It was spectacular and I had it all to myself.

October marked a year that I was sober at the time, so I ordered an Asahi Dry Zero, a non-alcoholic beer. While I waited for my drink, I looked up the day rate of the Park Hyatt Tokyo and was stunned to see costs in the range of eight hundred dollars a night. The bar, at least, was not that expensive. The single Asahi Dry Zero I ordered cost nine dollars. Usually, I drink quickly but tried to take my time to enjoy the sunset. It truly was a fantastic experience that didn’t cost a lot of money.

Glass of beer next to a bowl of nuts on a table.
View of Shinjuku from inside the Park Hyatt Tokyo bar.

On the way back to Shinjuku Station, I passed by a protest that regarded a constitutional amendment. There were a lot of signs held and an older man was in the middle of a speech. Nearby the protest, I shopped briefly at a Montbell outlet. I had never been to one of their shops before but their outdoor gear appeared to be high quality. I bought a green cap and then headed back to the station to purchase a ticket for Akihabara Station.