Category Archives: shinjuku
Classic analog film cameras are exciting and Japan is the place to buy them. At camera shows such as the this one at the Takashimaya department store, you can see and buy rare items. Most are sold during the first few days. I had no plans to buy another camera, but I still went to the Camera Show to enjoy the variety of analog cameras.
There are a few cameras I wouldn’t mind owning however. The large display of Polaroid cameras was an eye catcher and many different models and designs were on display. Even though Polaroid left the instant film business, cameras are still sold at used camera shops and stores like Village Vanguard which stock them together with modern toy cameras. I own an instant film camera by Fujifilm, but Fuji offers less variety and only one type of film.
Another type of camera which fascinates me is the stereo or 3D camera. Coincidentally, it is again a modern version made by Fujifilm which I happen to own.
On to the other cameras… Read the rest of this entry
Sometimes meet-ups groups wake up from their year-long slumber, such as the Karaoke Group. The meet-up venue was Karaoke no Tetsujin in Shinjuku, a karaoke chain that offers various rooms, including big ones for company parties. Costume rental is also possible, though their selection doesn’t seem to be very large.
They even have an English website and organize international karaoke parties. One feature is missing from their international site though: The ability to search for songs and artists and write down the code. The search feature works the same way as the controller in the karaoke rooms and is a nice way to find out if they even have your favorite songs.
Obviously they have a large selection of songs in Japanese, English and Korean language. Other languages are harder to find. Read the rest of this entry
Honestly, I’ve stopped counting how many Oktoberfests were held around Tokyo alone, let alone Japan. An Oktoberfest held in a month other than October is nothing special though. Even the original in Munich starts in September. The Oktoberfest Shinjuku was held near Seibu Shinjuku Station. Personally I’d just skip the Oktoberfest and walk a bit further to Shin-Okubo to eat some Korean food instead, but I’m biased 😉
On the plus side, Oktoberfest seemed quite authentic to me. Plenty of German food and more than one beer variety to choose from. For Bavarians complaining about the rising beer prices every year, Shinjuku Oktoberfest must be a shock: 1 mass (liter) of Franziskaner Weissbier for 3000 Yen (about 30 Euro). For comparison: In June it was announced that the beer price at the Munich Oktoberfest would be between 9,10 and 9,50 Euro.
How authentic is the rest? Read the rest of this entry
This illumination festival is a must see if you happen to run a blog that has both “tokyo” and “penguin” in the title. It’s the only festival I know of that features the JR Suica penguin. There’s also a light cathedral for couples.
Shinjuku Southern Lights is held each year on the the Shinjuku Southern Terrace. There is still some construction work going on as part of a further development of Shinjuku station. The illumination festival and the businesses on the Southern Terrace are unaffected by it.
The tree illumination is pretty much standard although this year only the trees right next to the exit were decorated. In 2008 I wrote about the illumination festival and they had more lights in the trees back then. Read the rest of this entry
In Tokyo’s Korea Town, the merchants are eager to find new ways to sell photos of famous Korean actors or musicians to Japanese customers. In addition to calendars, photo books, figures and DVDs, they occasionally try out new stuff such as the Photo Plant.
The Photo Plant is an ordinary plant with a photo of a star wrapped around it (the Japanese writing means “star photo inserted”). They don’t claim that the plant has any relation to the star, his hair style or if it has been planted by him. But if you happen to look for a plant and a picture of your favorite Korean actor, it’s a great deal.
Another one-off item was Kimchi Chocolate. Kimchi is delicious, chocolate is delicious, so why not merge them? This was obviously produced for tourists, but since I had Korean class mates at that time, I couldn’t resist and bought one. Reactions varied from shock (“no!!!!!!!!!”) to amusement – there are a variety of kimchi choices inside and when you eat a piece you will first taste the chocolate and then the kimchi. The latter doesn’t taste like the real one because it’s only a powder and obviously not fresh at all.
Perhaps most scary about this product is, that they could replace the kimchi powder with almost everything. How about Sauerkraut Chocolate? It’s soooo German!
Last part of my “autumn colours” series 😉
Today I went to Shinjuku Gyoen, which is often recommended as a good place to watch cherry blossoms. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the best parks to see the autumn colours.
I went there before my JLPT course (which is the last session before the actual test) so I only had about an hour to walk through the park.
I took about 150 photos and deleted half of them afterwards. My favourite spot was around the ponds – there was almost no wind blowing to disturb the water and the reflection of the trees.
While I was asked more than once whether I’m working as a professional photographer (just because I’m using a DSLR!), my equipment pales in comparison with what many elderly Japanese were carrying around. DSLRs mounted on tripod with lenses that were suitable to photograph a single leaf from a 850 meter distance.
However, some people only needed a canvas, a brush and a palette.
Read the rest of this entry
Finally the people who create the Shinjuku Southern Lights saw the light – or rather the penguin: After visiting Rikugien I made a stopover at Shinjuku station to see this year’s illumination. It’s really an improvement compared to last year and they had a couple of penguins on display with christmas hats and wards.
Of course the trees were decorated as well, although in the same fashion as last year. Shinjuku Southern Lights is an annual event held at the Shinjuku Southern Terrace. There is a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme donut store, the latter one easily recognisable because there is always a long queue of people waiting to buy a donut regardless of the weather. My theory is that fifty percent are only joining the queue because they saw other people waiting there.
Anyway, highlight of this year’s illumination was probably a small dome with a lamp resembling a well inside it. Couples or family went inside, pressed some button and then the well would change colour and mumble something.
Sunday is, as every week, the time for the JLPT Study meetup. And it really has become sort of a routine for me. As usual I had to literally force myself out to walk to the train station, change trains at Shinjuku and then try to survive leaving Harajuku station.
Shortly before I reached my destination I overheard a Japanese man dressed in a suit talking to everyone that they should clap and cheer for a newly-wed couple that was about to exit the building. Maybe they didn’t have enough relatives or so, but they seemed to be genuinely surprised when they walked out. Well, I also clapped for a minute or so. Hope they have a happy married life!
A few days ago it looked like I would be the only one coming for this meetup but Wye-Khe and two other people also found time. I thought that the female employee at Starbucks was new and she tried her few English words, looking really nervous. “Heat up?” – “Hai, atatamete kudasai” – fortunately, she switched to Japanese after that. I’m always thinking about answering in French when Japanese talk to me in English (pretending that I don’t speak English) but I’m not that mean. I may still do that in the future, however.
Read the rest of this entry
Month is almost over so it was time to pay my rent for the next month. Apparently I was not the only one doing this, as I was greeted with “Oh, do you want to pay your rent”. Maybe I had this I-want-to-get-rid-of-many-Yen face. Besides the rent I signed in for the hiking on the 12th of May.
Shinjuku is a real strange part of Tokyo. There is this business area with lots of tall building and a cheaper part with electronic and clothes shops and many, many restaurants. There is an observatory in the building of the Tokyo metropolitan government and it’s free of charge. Today I didn’t visit the observatorium and simply explored the area.