Kabukicho neon lights bars Tokyo

Japan: Shopping in Shinjuku, and exploring Kabukicho

Date: 27th March 2015

After checking out the skyscrapers of Nishi-Shinjuku, I decided to walk around Shinjuku ward a bit more to see what else was in the area. It’s a major commercial area after all.

Shinjuku pedestrian foothpath road Tokyo
I was just walking along, not really knowing where I was going
Green peas pachinko arcade Shinjuku Tokyo
That’s a pachinko arcade building called Green Peas
Louis Vuitton Isetan Shinjuku Tokyo
I was at a street with many big stores all around, from high end Louis Vuitton to department stores like Isetan
BICQLO shop Shinjuku Tokyo
Oh my god… a combination store of Bic Camera and Uniqlo… called BICQLO

I had already spent the morning at a Bic Camera and shopped at a Uniqlo just outside the Nishi-Shinjuku store. I kept telling myself: “Don’t go in, don’t go in, don’t go…”

Uniqlo Shinjuku Tokyo Japan
Gunpla toys Bic Camera Shinjuku
Again spent time looking at Gunpla kits
Bic Camera headphones Shinjuku
Tried out a few headphones too
Liquor store Shinjuku Japan
I noticed BICQLO had a liquor section too
Suntory whisky Yamazaki bottle
I wanted to buy a bottle of Yamazaki before leaving Japan
Ballantines foreign whisky Japan
At the same time, foreign liquor was also pretty damn cheap in Japan (when compared to India)
Au ABC mart Shinjuku Tokyo
I left BICQLO and resumed my walk around Shinjuku

Then I stumbled upon a 100 Yen store. I went in just to see if I could find anything good inside. After buying an aluminum frying pan, some chocolates, nuts and other goodies, I was back out again. Japan’s 100 yen stores are pretty damn nice for you will always find a few items look like a very good bargain, even if the quality isn’t the greatest.

Shinjuku shops Hotel Gracery Japan
I found myself near another major shopping street and look what I saw in the distance
Godzilla Hotel Gracery panorama Tokyo
Gojira statue Toho cinemas Tokyo Japan
Gojira, as he is known in Japan, is a property of Toho Cinemas
Kabukicho Shinjuku at night
As I walked closer to Godzilla, I saw a street with a lot of neon lights not too far away
Kabukicho DVD neon lights Tokyo Japan
Turns out I was in Kabukicho, Tokyo’s red light district
Host bars clubs Kabukicho Tokyo
You won’t find any prostitutes on the streets here. It was mostly all host clubs and bars

What are host and hostess bars? These hosts and hostesses cater to women and men mostly, and patrons pay to sit and chat with the club’s hosts. Yup. You pay for company. Talk, have drinks, play games and on occasions, if the club allows it, you may take the host or hostess out for a date — which costs even more. It’s a pretty interesting world, and VICE have two mini documentaries on this industry (one for hosts and hostesses). Some hosts and hostesses become mini-celebrities and it’s unbelievable how much money some of them get their patrons to spend. Of course, this job also involves drinking copious amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, and which I’m sure is not something that’s good for your body in the long run.

Host bars men kabukicho Tokyo
These male hosts look like J-idols or members of a boyband. But I guess that’s the look the Japanese women want.
Hostess bar girls Tokyo Japan
These bars are by no means cheap. Prices start at Rs.2500 ($45) for an hour just to sit with one of the girls, and that’s excluding the drinks and other buys once inside. The more these hosts get you to spend, the more they make in commissions.
Robot restaurant Kabukicho street Tokyo
Moving on, in a way I was glad I found Kabukicho
Robot restaurant tank girls Tokyo show
I was anyway interested in checking out the Robot Restaurant

What’s inside? A bizarre show of girls and robots and dinosaurs… and… actually, just watch this clip from Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown:

Kabukicho neon lights bars Tokyo
Unfortunately for me, tickets cost ¥7000 (Rs.4100/$62/€55) which was way too much money for me to spend when I still had to manage my expenses for a few more days in Tokyo
Don Quijote discount store Shinjuku
I left Kabukicho, walked back and made a quick stop at Don Quijote, a popular chain of 24-hour discount stores
Clothing Don Quijote Shinjuku Tokyo
They sell a variety of goods, from clothing to food items…
Sex toys Don Quijote Shinjuku
… to sex toys…
Luxury brands Don Quijote Shinjuku
… and even luxury brands, although I’m not sure if these are all genuine
Shinjuku road at night Tokyo
Anyway, it was time to leave Shinjuku
Queue Zakuzaku Lumine Shinjuku
As I walked to Shinjuku station via the Lumine department store basement, I saw people queuing up for some pastry
Zakuzaku croquant price Shinjuku
The store is called Zakuzaku, and they sell a croquant chou that is pastry coated with almond flakes with a cream filling
Queue zakuzaku Shinjuku Tokyo
I was curious to find out what it tasted like, so I queued up as well
Zakuzaku croquant dessert Shinjuku Tokyo
They don’t look appealing but it did smell really nice
Zakuzaku cream filling machine Shinjuku
That’s the machine they use to fill in the cream
Local fried chicken Tokyo Japan
Back in Asakusa, I wondered what to have for dinner. I picked up some local fried chicken.
Nakamise street at night
I walked past Nakamise Street. This is what it looks like at night, when all the shops have closed.
Ekimise Asakusa station Tokyo Japan
Ekimise is an old railway station renovated and now houses many shops
Koban police station asakusa Tokyo
After picking up some KFC, I walked all the way back to the hostel. That small croner building is a Koban, a mini police station. Crime is so low in Japan that you can do just fine with such small police stations.
Sakura package beer Asahi Sapporo Japan
This being sakura season, a lot of products get repackaged to fit the festive mood — including beer brands

Post-dinner, I tried the Zakuzaku pastry. How was it? Hmmm, it was okay. Maybe I should have had it fresh at the store itself, it would have been crunchier. Was it worth waiting line for more than 15 minutes? No. Tried it, scratched it off my list, and won’t bother again.

And that was the end to this day. Tomorrow, I would spend time by Sumida River to see the cherry blossom festivities there, and then take a boat ride to Odaiba — to see the famous Gundam robot!

Next few posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River

Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms at Tokyo Imperial Palace east garden

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street

Japan 2015 – Visiting Akihabara a second time, because why not?

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms in full bloom at Ueno Park

Japan 2015: Rikugien garden’s weeping cherry blossom tree

Japan 2015: Getting to Hakone; Lake Ashi sightseeing cruise

Japan 2015: Hakone ropeway; onsen at Hotel Green Plaza

Japan 2015: Ōwakudani sulphur springs, views of Mt. Fuji — and last night in Tokyo

Japan 2015: Getting to Narita Airport — and flying an Airbus A380 for the first time

Previous posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku — views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more

Japan 2015: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom

Japan 2015: Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, leaving Himeji for Tokyo — and my last bullet train ride

Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show

Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza

Japan 2015: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time

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