Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shinjuku Nightlife- August 2007

Here are more photos of Shinjuku, taken during my vacation blast there in August, 2007. I have a new digital camera, so I went nuts with it all over Tokyo, from Harajuku and Shibuya to Ikebukuro. We start our tour on the south side of Shinjuku Station:

This area is usually jumping. You can't see them in the photo, but on the right there's a Gap and large shopping center that runs several floors up the side of the building and ends in a multi-level Tower Records location. The top floor of Tower has a selection of Western magazines and artsy books, but nothing on the scale of the Shibuya Tower, which is the largest in the world.

Coming around to the Kabuki-cho side, you end up in a seedy little plaza across from Studio Alta. It's kind of shadowy despite the carnival lights across the streets. I can't imagine too many really good things happen here late at night.

This was just after sundown, and there were people just hanging out, sitting on a rail in front of the station. Maybe they were all waiting for friends for a night out. Shinjuku is definitely the place for that.

People were moving out into Shinjuku constantly, too. All around Shinjuku Station there's a massive amount of energy. Things are bustling, people are doing things and going places.

You have to dodge taxis and bicycles. Don't get hit.

Just across the street you find those electric cityscapes everyone talks about when they talk about how crazy Tokyo is. William Gibson wrote a line in Idoru about how in Shinjuku, particles of light find their way into your hotel room, even into your tightly-shut eyes. At least that's how I remember is and it's true. Only at Hotel Listel far off the main areas of Shinjuku was I able to make my room absolutely dark. In Kabuki-cho, or near the station, forget it. Get used to sleeping with a visible glow through the membranes of your eyelids.

I don't sleep really deeply in Shinjuku. It's not the result of fear, although everyone tells me Kabuki-cho is a dangerous, dangerous place (hey, I walked through the middle of a full-scale riot in Athens one night, complete with pepper spray and barking police dogs and wild-eyed shirtless guys walking around looking to start some shit), and I am a little more cautious there than I would be anywhere else... but it's worth it to partake of the energy.

Lights, lights, lights. And people.

In front of Studio Alta itself, there was almost a party atmosphere. I guess the Yukata Festival was particularly happening this year.

This next picture is one of my favorites, blurry though it is. To me, this captures the energy. I use that word a lot describing Shinjuku. Energy. Movement. Kinetics, gaudy aesthetics. As an outsider, it probably affects me differently than it would someone who lives nearby or spends their weekends here.

That's the stuff. People in motion under the artificial colorful lights.

And around the corner, people shopping for food. The atmosphere completely changed. And then changed again. Kabuki-cho is about change and transformation. Becoming a full person, becoming a drunk person, becoming a different person with every change in the light, with every sign blinking a different color, your eyes changing, your skin changing. Always changing colors. Unless you've seen it for yourself, the descriptions sound like hyperbole. I never in my life thought I'd walk around in a place this crazy and garish/beautiful at the same time. Seedy and futuristic.

Next: More Kabuki-cho. I think for my next adventure in Japan, I want to spend a tranquil few days gliding around Kyoto... Shinjuku's tranquil spiritual opposite.

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