After a couple of days of vigorous templing, I decided it’s time to see the other side of Tokyo: the modern, hip side. The rich side.
This means Shinjuku. Specifically, west Shinjuku.
West Shinjuku is not for shopping; it’s not really for food or casual browsing, either. So why go there? It’s the financial capital of Tokyo (ergo, the world…almost) and the administrative centre of the city; this has led it to become the skyscraper district of Tokyo with a host of notable buildings, such as government centre, and some unusual distinctions such as Shinjuku station, the busiest in the world.
All of this makes it well worthwhile spending a day wandering the streets as a tourist, gaping upwards at the skyscrapers in the way that Irish holiday makers accustomed only to Liberty Hall must.
The first I encounter is no less than Park Tower, better known perhaps for its Park Hyatt Hotel where “Lost in Translation” was filmed.
This was a bit of a treat for me…as mentioned previously, that film is undoubtedly one of the principal things that made me curious about Japan. I was debating how to go about snooping around when I realised that its New York Bar is just a regular, normal bar whose entry fortunately requires you negotiate through much of the hotel.
Once there, it’s clearly also the bar from the film: bandstand, the bar with the funky lamps and the outrageous views of Tokyo all present and correct. The path is similarly familiar. Amazingly, the sets in the film were all unadorned: lifts, entrance and hallway really are all that nice.
Like something from a movie set…the only thing missing is Bill Murray and Scarlett herself.
Anyway, I bask in the atmosphere and order some chips – “duck fat French fries” – and an espresso. At 1600¥ they’re the most expensive thing I’ve bought so far and absolutely wonderful.
The service is impeccable and the waiters speak perfect English. They also don’t mind me taking a tour of the bar and some panoramic shots (it’s early and the place is not busy). No wonder Scarlett’s character spent most of her time staring out her window. This is the best view of the city and must be amazing on a clear night.
Before I go I call into the bathroom and see something unique even in Tokyo: automatic toilet seats. Choose from any of all three possible configurations. Nice.