Numerous skyscrapers, bright neon lights, and bustling streets and train stations are some of the things that best describe Shinjuku. Amidst the busy crowd and modern facade of this lively city, there are still places in Shinjuku that will allow you to go back in time and explore the timeless beauty and charm of old Japan. Check four of them below!
Omoide Yokocho is a small alley with around 60 stalls of mostly grilled and skewered meat situated near the West Exit of Shinjuku Station. Also known as Memory Lane, this drinking hub has a history dating back to the late 1940s, during the post-war period, where the place was destroyed by fire and all shops at that time did not survive the disaster. It was also during this time where flour for making ramen and udon noodles was in short supply and people started selling grilled animal organs or “motsuyaki,” such as pig’s liver and intestines, to make a living.
To this day, this narrow and crowded space has still preserved the memory of those years as some stalls are still selling motsuyaki, while other shops also serve yakitori or skewered chicken, yakiniku or grilled beef, ramen, soba, and sushi.
You might think that it is very unlikely to see a museum of old artifacts in the middle of an entertainment and red-light district, but in Shinjuku, there is such one that exists. Tucked in Kabukicho district, the Samurai Museum exhibits a wide array of armors, helmets or “kabuto,” swords, and other clothing and weapons used by the valiant warriors and protectors of the olden times. Visitors can properly see the intricate details and designs of the armors as they are not covered by any protective glass.
The museum also offers activities to complete your samurai experience such as samurai calligraphy lessons and samurai battle performances. Guests can also have their pictures taken while wearing a complete set of samurai armor. An English tour is also available to better understand the history of the samurais.
The Hanazono Shrine or Flower Garden Shrine has been around since the 17th century. This Shinto shrine had been consumed by fire multiple times until the bombings during World War II wherein it was completely ruined and destroyed. The area has been reconstructed through the years whilst keeping the sacredness of the grounds.
Devotees come to this quiet haven to pray for the growth and success of their businesses. And on Sundays, the area becomes an open market for antiques and other items.
Getting tired of all the sightseeing, shopping, and night life? Then relax and spend some quiet time at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This tranquil oasis was formerly a residence of Kiyonari Naito, a feudal lord during the Edo period. It was then transferred to the Imperial Family and was made into an Imperial garden in 1906. It became a national garden after World War II and has been accessible to the public ever since.
One of the park’s highlights is its Japanese-style garden, which gives us a picture of what a traditional Japanese garden looked like, especially during the Meiji era. It consists of a pond with bridges, well-trimmed grass and plants, and pavilions.
Shinjuku is not just all about business, entertainment, and shopping. While advancement, glitz, and glamor continue to flourish in this city, it still keeps the ancient days in this modern era. So why not take a break and time travel to the past to see and experience the old days of Japan in Shinjuku?