At the time of writing this blogpost my sister and I are still in Tokyo. We spent the past three nights in a really nice airbnb place in the Shinjuku area of this enormous city and are now spending our time somewhere else so that we can see as much of it as possible during the time we are here. We’re now actually in the Taito region, there is a ‘recommended activities’ blogpost about that coming soon too! If you want you can already read my travel diary from our time in Taito: Travel diary: 3 days in Taito, Tokio. If you want to know more about what we did during our time in Shinjuku though, definitely read This blogpost. Want to know how to make the most of a short stay in Shinjuku and what activities I recommend? Keep on reading!
Only staying in Shinjuku for three nights meant we had two full days to spent there, and a couple of hours before the first night. In order to make the most of this time we decided there were a couple things we definitely wanted to see and do while there: see the Hachiko statue and famous crossing, shop at Shibuya109 and Daiso, walk through Harajuku, visit the food market in the basement of a department store and walk through shinjuku gyoen national garden. We also ticked off one other thing that we planned on only doing in the Taito region: going to the arcade hall. Quite a few things, not all of which were close to ‘home’ but we managed to do all of them and I recommend you do all of these too!
Seeing the Hachiko statue and Shibuya crossing
I think everyone that knows a bit about Japan, knows about the Hachiko statue. For those that don’t, I’ll explain right now. It’s a statue located close to the Shibuya station and it’s a dog. It’s a tribute to the dog called Hachiko that always used to walk along with his owner to the train station, wait at the entrance for his return and then walk home with him again. He did that every day, always waited for his owner. One day his owner died in a train accident, so he never returned. The dog however, kept waiting for his owner untill the day he died too. They even made a movie about this, it’s so sad! Anyways, we really wanted to see this famous statue of this loving dog so we did. It’s very easy to find. If you want to take a picture with it though, be prepared to wait in line because you’re not the only one. We didn’t want to, so we just took a picture of the statue itself in between people taking turns.
We then went to see the famous Shibuya crossing, of which you always see these gorgeous pictures on the internet. The thing is, these pictures are taken from above and I definitely recommend you to go look at the crossing from above too. It looks way more impressive that way I think. We unfortunately didn’t do that. It’s still fun to see and experience from the ground though. Especially in the evening, when it’s much more crowded!
Shop at Shibuya109 and Daiso
Shibuya109 is a department store with lots of different fashion shops inside and some restaurants at the top as well and Daiso is a 100yen shop, which right now (June 2018) is a little under a euro, and probably about a dollar.
Most of the shops in Shibuya109 were selling typically Japanese fashion: lots of super cute clothes, sometimes even doll-like but mostly just incredibly feminine. It’s super fun to see! There were also some stores that were selling quite the opposite, which seems to be quite a trend as well. Really bright colors and wide fitting clothes with weird texts or drawings on them. We also noticed that every shoe shop sold mostly heels, which probably has to do with the fact that most ladies here in Japan are tiny and want to look longer. I haven’t seen a small girl in Japan that wasn’t wearing heals or extremely high platforms yet. It’s a really fun department store if you want some cute clothes for a reasonable price. However, if you are even a little chubby, you probably won’t fit any of the clothes. Most stores only carry one size.
Daiso is a shop that is kind of like the Action (which you probably have never heard of unless you’re from the Netherlands so maybe the dollarstore is a better example because almost everything is just 100yen). It’s a store that mostly sells stuff you don’t really need. But they do sell some cool things for around the house or in the kitchen. It’s the kind of shop that you go into because there is one small item you need to buy and you know you can buy it there for cheap and you end up leaving with a shopping bag full of stuff because everything looks so nice and is so cheap. Which is what I did. I got some fun looking snacks and skincare products. If you’re looking for some unique but cheap souvenirs to take home yourself, this is a good place to get them.
Walk through Harajuku
We went here way too late in the day, like one hour before closing time, but it was still worth it! Takashita street is the most famous street in this area, but there are lots more filled with shops! You can find large shops here and small, unique boutiques. It’s a lot of fun. Especially the stores that sell the typical Harajuku fashion. Because we were so late, we didn’t see any of the Harajuku girls walking around but if you come earlier you probably will so I definitely recommend you do that!
Visit a food market in the basement of a department store
For this we chose the Isetan department store, which is quite an expensive one. Luckily we were not there to buy any expensive clothes or accessories, we were there to buy food! Expensive food of course haha but still. This was a great experience! Definitely recommend. It’s like a market, but incredibly fancy and even though all of the different ‘stalls’ belong together you feel like they are competing against each other because they are all shouting different things at you to make you buy their stuff. We didn’t understand anything of it though lol. You can basically buy anything here, from cake to oils and from sushi to fried pork, bread and fruit. Fun fact: fruit is incredibly expensive in Japan. I think this is because they have to import it from really far away. They actually buy fruit as gifts for people. A large melon was around 50.000 yen! Unbelievable.
Walk through Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This was something I personally really wanted to do because I wanted to experience both sides of the city: the busy one and the relaxed one. It’s such an enormous city but the government really tried hard to make sure there is enough room for people to relax and feel like they are away from their busy, daily life. There are lots of parks, small and huge, everywhere throughout the city. I chose this one because it was relatively close to where we were staying. Definitely a great choise! There is a greenhouse – which I don’t really see the point of because it’s bloody hot and humid in Tokyo right now, but I guess that changes as the seasons change-, a French garden and traditional Japanese garden. Some traditional Japanese tea houses as well, but we didn’t go in those. It does cost 200 yen per person I believe to enter the park but it is totally worth it. It’s a gorgeous place, huge, and you definitely feel like you are out of the busy city. Lots of great places for photographs as well!
Going to the arcade
This was so much fun! Arcades here in Japan are huge! The one we went to had all of these machines where you could win stuffed animals and the floor on top of that was filled with games like Mario kart. There was also a floor with virtual reality but we didn’t go there. It’s probably fun though! I even won two stuffed animals, one tiny one for me and a big one for my sister. She loved it and so I loved it. It’s expensice to spend your time at one of these places but it’s definitely worth it because it’s lots of fun!
Go up to the top floor of the Metropolitan Government building.
This building is 45 floors tall and offers everyone a free 360 degrees view of Tokyo city. It’s amazing how far you can see, especially on a clear day. You are then able to see Mount fuji! Unfortunately it was quite foggy when we were up there so we could only see the front row of mountains, but that was still awesome. There is also a group of cute old ladies available to answer all of your questions and teach you more about the city. They are adorable and very enthusiastic.
Whenever we were not exploring or doing something fun, we were spending our time either on traveling to a location or on eating. Because who goes to Japan without trying as much of the local cuisine as possible right! I will write a seperate post dedicated to all of the food we had in Shinjuku so stay tuned for that!