Monday, 8 January 2018

Japan, Day 2: Shinjuku (and a bit of Shibuya)

The trouble with holiday trips is that one can never see everything but just a very small snapshot of a place. Such as Shinjuku in Tokyo. My son wanted to go there, because he was searching for something specific to buy, so we all trooped there by train from Ikebukuro.

We alighted from the Shinjuku station and took a random walk down the road, not knowing where we would be heading. Then my son went one way and the three of us went the other way.

We slipped into a shopping mall - I think it was the Lumine - and got distracted by a bakery. Selling all sorts of cakes and buns. And drinks. And so we ordered some to eat. We searched for an empty table among the limited there. Couldn't find one. But there was one with a shopping bag resting on a chair. One of the shoppers - an elegant Japanese lady - motioned to us and quickly removed her bag. We thanked her and rested our feet. Not that we had walked much, but the rest still proved a blessing.

Somehow, we found ourselves at a tourist information centre. Where could we find somewhere interesting to visit around here, we asked the lady at the centre. She whipped out a map and suggested walking to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where we could go up and take a panoramic view of the district. There was also a park nearby, if we were interested.

This sounded good to us and so, like well-trained tourists, we followed her directions to the government building. But there was disappointment. There was a long line of people with the same idea as us. Only goodness will know how long it would take us just to reach the front of the queue. So we gave up the idea of going up the building. By this time, though, darkness had descended on Tokyo. We did make our way to the park and there was nothing much to see in the darkness except for a pavillion in semi-darkness.

We decided to make our way back to the Lumine building, re-tracing our steps through a road selling electronics stuff. We went into one which turned out to be the Shinjuku West branch of the Yodobashi chain of stores. While Saw See and Michelle, waited for Jeremy on the ground floor, I took a hurried tour of the upper floors. I must admit that I was quite floored by the widest selection of electronic goods that I had ever seen. It was with great reluctance that I had to go back down to the ground floor again.

The family now re-united, we walked back to the train station but my ears soon picked up a familiar sound. The sound of the Hang musical instrument. The last time I had watched anyone play this musical instrument was in 2014 when Richard Clayderman performed in Penang. But at this present moment, it was an unknown street performer who was playing with his Hang on the sidewalk.

Oh yes, we had to take a quick trip to the Shibuya station which was one stop away from Shinjuku because Jeremy still tried to find his stuff. A very quick trip. We emerged from the station and while Jeremy disappeared somewhere, the three of us slipped into a nearby department store and wandered around. We got tired after a while, waited for Jeremy to return, and then we took the train back to Ikebukuro. No, we did not go to the famed Shibuya crossing intersection.

It must be understood that this was our first day in Japan. Had landed in the morning without any rest and we were dead tired. Hungry too, if I may add here. So we took refuge at a Hanamaru Udon shop at the end of the Ikebukuro station. Needless to say, we wolfed down the food without thinking too much about it

P.S. But it was good in retrospect.

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