Living in Shinjuku-ku

Living in Shinjuku-ku

My Wife Yu-chan, the responsible of this blog, asked me to make some contributes and here I am. I am an italian architect and amature photographer living in Japan since November 2010. Yu-chan will call me N in this blog.
As my first post in this blog I want to talk about the area in Tokyo where we live. It will not be a guide to Tokyo or to Shinjuku, just my personal opinion to Yochomachi district and some tips about nearby interesting areas.

I’ve been living in Shinjuku-ku, Yochomachi district for 4 years. I moved here from Kitasando-Sendagaya area (shibuya-ku). Yochomachi was not exactly in the list of places me and my wife were searching at that time but the apartment was good and it was not far from my working place so we decided to give it a chance. The closest metro station to our house is Wakamatsukawada (Oedo line) which we had never heard before we moved and Yochomachi (01 in the map below) at the beginning looked just a calm residential area not far from Shinjuku JR station to us.
Higashi Shinjuku station (oedo line and fukutoshin line) also is quite close to our apartment, just few minutes further compared with Wakamatsu kawada.

We realize soon that the place could offer more than he looked from a first quick approach.
We liked from the beginning the “mood” of the place; many children, people going to supermarket in pajamas, many parks and green areas, …
We started to enjoy and appreciate more and more the district with the time. I always like to explore the neighborhood once I move to a new apartment (this is my 4th apartment since I have been living in Tokyo from November 2010), and I discover that Yochomachi in the end was full of surprises. Of course everybody knows Shinjuku and its main attractions around the main station, but not many people are aware about the other interesting parts of the Shinjuku ward.

Shinjuku-ku is also a good choice in case you have children. It is quite difficult to get Nursery schools in Tokyo but some municipalities are better than others and we got lucky with Shinjuku-ku. We were able to get a very nice hoikuen right next to the metro station at 7mins walking from our apartment.

Yochomachi district is located right at the center of Shinjuku-ku, close enough to many interesting areas: Yotsuya, Kagurazaka, Waseda, Takadanobaba, Shin-Okubo, kabukicho and Shinjuku Jr station district obviously.
Below the map with my favorite places in Shinjuku ku

01 YOCHOMACHI DISTRICT (where we live)
02 SUGI DAIMON STREET
03 KAGURAZAKA
04 SHINJUKU GIOEN
05 SHINJUKU STATION
06 KABUKICHO AND GOLDEN GAI
07 SHINJUKU JR STATION DISTRICT
08 SHIN-OKUBO (KOREAN TOWN)
09 KANDA RIVER
10 IIDABASHI – KORAKUEN (TOKYO DOME)

Did I miss any important one?

I will describe some of them more in details in my next posts with some info about our favorite restaurants and things to do; today I’ll just list them up with a short description and few photos I took during my “exploring walk”.

02 SUGI DAIMON STREET
Located between Yotsuya sanchome and Akebonobashi station, this street is characterized by a series of interesting bars and restaurants: from expensive sushi counter restaurants to super cheap yakitori or Chinese restaurants and snackbars. The place is very lively in the evening during the entire week and I love to pass by these street when I come back from work. Some bars offers live music and in some others sometimes there people performing traditional Japanese and Okinawa style music.

03 KAGURAZAKA
This district is quite famous for many reasons: nice restaurants and bars, picturesque streets, nice shops and nice temples. It’s very lively during the entire day from the morning till the evening and during the entire week. In the area there is one of my favorite Yakitori place and one of our favorite French restaurant.

04 SHINJUKU GIOEN
This park does not need any description; it’s by far my favorite park in town and the fact that it is located in a walkable distance from our house it’s awesome.

05 SHINJUKU JR STATION  DISTRICT
Shinjuku is one of the main station of Tokyo, therefore is one of the bigger and busier with so many attractions and lots of people in every single day of the week and in every hour of the day.
We go to Shinjuku often for shopping, for dinner or just for taking a walk.
I really enjoy Shinjuku especially during the weekends. On summer time they often close some street to the traffic and it becomes a wide pedestrian area. I especially enjoy the Sanchome part of Shinjuku and the South exit side of the main Shinjuku station.

06 KABUKICHO AND GOLDEN GAI
Kabukicho is famous for many things but mainly for the sex district, and the clubs. Despite its bad reputation I really like this place and I enjoy taking pictures here during the night.
My wife Yuchan on the other hand hates it. She thinks it’s dirty, and definitely it is, and noisy without anything interesting for her … I can understand her point of view but I still find it fascinating.
Golden gai is a pattern of small bars right next to kabukicho. It has become a massive tourist attraction in the latest years therefore I am not going there as often as I used to when I just arrived in japan 8 years ago.

07 SHINJUKU STATION – WEST
The West district of Shinjku deserve a separate chapter. This is the area of the skyscrapers and the business but you can also find some interesting bars and great ramen restaurants.
For us it`s also important because it’s the place where is located the hospital where my son has born 11months ago.

08 SHIN-OKUBO (KOREAN DISTRICT)
The Korean district is very intense; it’s a very dense and lively part of the city and it offers an enormous amount of restaurants and shops. Many people go there just for the Korean Yakiniku restaurants but it has much more to offer.

09 KANDA RIVER: TAKADANOBABA, WASEDA, EDOGAWABASHI
I love walking in the evening along the Kanda river from Takadanobaba until Waseda and sometimes even further arriving at Edogawabashi. It`s very calm during the night; you might meet just some evening runners and somebody walking with their dogs. The river is nice and the walk very relaxing. In correspondence of Waseda there is a very small local train which is very characteristic ; sometime I take a ride just to enjoy few stops until the final station Waseda. When you arrive at Edogawabashi there is a small park along the river and a stairs leading towards the beautiful Saint Mary Cathedral designed by Tange.

10 IIDABASHI – KORAKUEN (TOKYO DOME)
IIdabashi and Korakuen are not in Shinjuku-ku, but they are close enough to us for our “night walk”. We really like to walk around the Tokyo dome in the evening when there are not big events like baseball games or concerts. We like to look at the amusement park near the dome from outside and enjoy the lights of the Tokyo dome district.

N.

(all images are subject to copyright)