I mean this in the most literal sense.
The day we arrived in Tokyo and walked from the bustling Shinjuku train station all the way to Shinjuku-Gyoenmae where our hotel (Shinjuku City Hotel NUTS) was located, the wheel of my huge suitcase got stuck in a hole on the road. Because I was walking pretty fast, the sudden halt in momentum had me hurtling into the air and landing on my knees really hard (this happened in less than two seconds…but I tend to recall it happening in slow motion now..).
It was a blessing I decided to wear leggings under my skirt that day because the added humiliation would’ve done permanent ego damage (it was a busy street).
Miraculously enough, my leggings survived the commotion. My left knee, however, did not. That tiny incident not only had me painfully hobbling around Japan during the latter part of our journey, but it also left a scar in its wake. My only consolation: Every time I look at it, I remember Tokyo. Haha.
Nothing, not even actual bodily pain, will get in the way of my wanderlust. Despite that little mishap, I gamely explored Tokyo with M and B for four full days. The vibrant district of Shinjuku served as our home base—perfect for its unlimited and diverse entertainment, food and shopping options, and for being conveniently located along the JR Yamanote line, which connects Tokyo’s major city centers.
From there, we were able to go to Shibuya, Harajuku, Ueno, Meguro and Tokyo station, where all the shinkansen lines converge. I read somewhere that Tokyo was a city of cities, which I think describes it perfectly. Even while only traversing the JR Yamanote line, we saw how every stop revealed a district that was distinctly different from the one before it.
Of course, being billeted in Shinjuku meant we got to see more of it than the rest.
What I love about Shinjuku is how it transforms into an entirely different entity the moment the sun comes down. At night, this concrete jungle turns electric:
One evening, we ended up in Shinjuku Ni-chome, located 15 minutes away from our hotel, and we didn’t realize it was Tokyo’s gay district until we’ve crawled through a couple of pubs and kept on seeing magazines with male models in all states of dress and undress. :P
Every pub we went to offered free condoms. Check out the package’s design—my friend B couldn’t resist keeping some as souvenirs. Haha.
Shinjuku definitely ranks high on my favorite areas in Tokyo. The only disadvantage I discovered about it is its effect on my wallet. Temptation is everywhere.
One of the places our friends suggested we check out was Don Quijote (also known as Donki), which pretty much sells everything you can imagine—from leopard print contact lenses and assorted KitKat bars to different anime costumes, wigs, tiny portable fans, racy lingerie and luggage tags.
Even when I vowed I wouldn’t be shopping much in Japan, I couldn’t resist bringing home some of those false eyelashes Japanese women tend to favor. They come in different styles and thickness and just make your eyes look all bright and sparkly. Haha. When I was about to pay for one of these patterned contact lenses (plaid, leopard print and cheetah), I knew I had reached a new low. I ended up replacing them with different flavored KitKat bars to bring home for my family. :P
Of course, the best part about Shinjuku—especially when you go there during spring—is its famed Shinjuku Gyoen. The massive park is known to be the best place to enjoy Japan’s cherry blossom festival. I was lucky enough to have gone there early in the morning before it got crowded. Only a few people were in the park and it was nice having these beauties all to myself: