Shinjuku is probably Tokyo’s most famous areas, and one that perfectly represents the idea that I had of the city before actually visiting it. Shinjuku is exciting, thrilling and fascinating, mixing the ultra-modern Tokyo with traditions.
The streets of Shinjuku:
One of the things that characterises Shinjuku is definitely the amount of people you will find there, at every time of the day and night: groups of young people hanging out with their friends, tired employees from the 24H shops, never-ending flows of tourists and working men that come back from work at crazy hours…
This is mainly because Shinjuku station is basically a hub, on top of being the busiest railway station in the world, with millions of passengers going through it every day. It is also served by a lot of railway and metro lines, which is why it is a great area to stay if you are visiting: pretty much every metro line will bring you back to your accommodation!
The very first time I stepped on Japan’s streets was in Shinjuku, after a very long and exhausting flight, and I had never been so amazed. There were so many things happening at the same time! Loud music, bright signs, endless flows of people, colourful buses and cars, stores, restaurants and shops literally everywhere, gigantic billboards and huge crossroads: that was my first encounter with Shinjuku.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden:
Shinjuku is not just about the nightlife, good restaurants and enormous shops, it is also a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature, thanks to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of Tokyo’s most popular parks, especially during cherry blossom season.
Sadly, we missed the cherry blossoms, but despite that, the park was incredibly beautiful. If it weren’t for the top of the buildings that you could see above the trees, we could have forgotten we were in one of the world’s biggest cities.
This huge park is actually composed of three different gardens: a traditional Japanese garden, with ponds, islands and bridges, a French garden and an English one. There is also a gorgeous greenhouse where you can admire a lot of tropical flowers and plants.
We had a lovely picnic on the grass there and enjoyed exploring around the wonderful paths in nature and admiring the Japanese garden. It was a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku!
In the heart of Shinjuku, behind all the modern buildings, hidden away between small streets, you can find the Hanazono Shinto shrine, which guards the area, its habitants and artists.
It is located in a very quiet area, but still central, and it is dedicated to the god of trade and success. On some days it also hosts large festivals and it is nicely lit in the evening, making it perfect for a romantic stroll.
When we went there it was sadly raining a lot and nothing was really going on, but we still really appreciated this beautiful spot, an island of tradition in the bustling streets of Shinjuku!
In the busy streets of Shinjuku, you can easily lose track of time, and given all the amazing things there are to discover, eat, see and listen to, it is really not surprising that so many people like to gather there. But behind this modernity, the tradition is still very much present, and the traditional Japan resurfaces from time to time, be it in wonderful gardens or a colourful shrine.
Have you ever been to Tokyo?
Other posts about Japan:10 Days in Japan: Tokyo and Osaka
– Short getaway in Osaka