Old Shinjuku pictures

Shinjuku 新宿 is my favorite area in Tokyo. I’ve been taking pictures of Shinjuku since 2004. During these 13 years I’ve seen this neibourhood transforming and I feel some kind of nostalgia when looking at my old Shinjuku pictures.

Shinjuku developed as a neuralgic point of activity in Japan since the beginning of the Edo area when a “juku” 宿, a place to stop and rest, was stablished on the side of Koshu Kaido, one of the five main routes of commerce in Edo Japan. Nowadays, Koshu Kaido is the avenue on the south exit of Shinjuku station that is used by more than 3 million people everyday.

Shinjuku was totally destroyed in the war and rebuilt from scratch after it. These are pictures from old Shinjuku, ranging from the 50s until the 70s. I love the general structure of the station and the surrounding streets hasn’t changed too much.


This is Shinjuku in the 70s. On the left side you can see a building with the sign Sakuraya さくらや, it is an electronics and home appliances shop.


This picture I took it in 2004 and also shows the same Sakuraya さくらや building. Sakuraya is no longer there, now it is a Bic Camera.


Shinjuku west exit area in the 70s.


Shinjuku west exit area in now.


Naito Shinjuku 内藤新宿 (Second dot from the right to the left on the map) was the first stop after Nihonbashi on the Koshu Kaido route during the Edo period. Naito was the name of an important daimyo who lived where now Shinjuku Gyoen park is located.

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Godzilla at Shinjuku

One of the biggest changes at the Kabukicho area in Shinjuku has been the demolition of Koma Gekijo, one of the most traditional theatre halls in Tokyo. It has been replaced by a huge tower building with a hotel and 4D cinema inside. The cool thing is that there is a huge Godzilla head on the side of the building. At night, at 19:00, the Godzilla eyes are illuminated and it throws smoke from his mouth.

This is the exact location of the Godzilla at Shinjuku.

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Toranomon Hills

This past week I have been working for a couple of days at Toranomon Hills, the new tallest building in Tokyo (inaugurated one month ago) after surpassing Tokyo Midtown. Toranomon Hills is 255.5 meters / 838 feet tall and has been built by Mori, the same construction company that built Roppongi Hills.

Unlike Roppongi Hills, this new complex doesn’t have a shopping area or a movie theater. It only has offices, several residential floors, two floors for conferences, many restaurants and a small area with a garden. The mascot of the building is called Toranomon (トラのもん) and was designed by the production staff of Doraemon.

Can you spot the Toranomon mascot in the following photos?

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Toranomon Hills, Tokyo

Official website of Toranomon Hills

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Walking Around Residential Areas – Setagaya

One of the tips that I usually give people that come to Japan for the first time is to “not to worry” too much and wander around without a clear destination in mind. One of the things that I enjoy the most about living in Tokyo is to get lost with my camera in residential areas. The residential areas don’t have anything special like tourist attractions do, but that’s why I find them so cool and charming.

These are some of the photos that I took around Setagaya in Tokyo. I’m not saying that you should go to Setagaya, any residential neighborhood in any Japanese city has a similar spirit: small houses that look like they have been taken out of a Doraemon or Shinchan episode, low-rise buildings, narrow streets where almost no cars pass, a lot of green areas, stressed out people going to the supermarket riding a bicycle…
Explore and get lost in any neighborhood near your hotel when you come to Japan! 🙂

Trivia: Setagaya-ku is the second largest district in Tokyo after Ota-ku and was the neighbourhood chosen by Akira Kurosawa to “retire”.

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More photos of my walks around Tokyo in my Flickr and in my Instagram

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Walking Around Kameido

Kameido is a neighborhood in east Tokyo (JR Sobu line from Akihabara to Chiba) which is not very touristy but it’s worth to take a stroll around its alleys. Nowadays the eastern part of Tokyo is the youngest and most lively part of the city (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, etc), however during the Edo era the areas west and south of the Imperial Palace were the busiest ones.

Even though Kameido, in east Tokyo, was destroyed during the Second World War it still maintains certain aura of past times. Kameido is very popular for its gyoza and horumon ホルモン restaurants.

Kameido

Kameido
We had dinner in this yakitori restaurant where we had some delicious shiitake.

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido
A new thing about Kameido is that from many parts of it you can easily see the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

Kameido

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Tokyo's Guitar Street

Ochanomizu is a must-see location for guitar lovers that come to Tokyo. Ochanomizu is a street plenty of shops, some of them occupying whole buildings, specialized in guitars and string instruments in general.

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo

Guitar Street in Tokyo
Google Maps

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Jimbocho, the neighbourhood of the old books

I had been several times around Jimbocho, near Tokyo Station, but up until recently I hadn’t had the time to enjoy the famous streets where you can find plenty of second hand books. Last month, I could finally go there and snoop around the bookstores. I wasn’t expecting to find so many stores! There are dozens of stores full of books from decades and even centuries ago, manuscripts, scrolls, old magazines, ukiyo-e art, drafts of novels by famous authors (I saw drafts of Haruki Murakami novels!), developed photographs of famous photographers, etc. I ended up buying a couple of old maps from Tokyo (handwritten maps from 90 years ago), a Daido Moriyama photograph book and another one by Nobuyoshi Araki.

These are some of the photos that I took during my visit, using my new iPhone 4.

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Jimbocho

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Jimbocho

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Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

Jimbocho

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Books about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tohoku

Since I have a Kindle I go less often to my favorite bookstore Kinokuniya, but I recently went there for a while to see the latest Japanese book releases. I found shelves and sections dedicated completely to books about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tohoku, whose consequences we are still living in Japan.

There are books that compile, explain, analyze and reflect on everything that has happened, others explain how to be prepared for a nuclear catastrophe, some others analyze what needs to be done from now on so that Japan can recover from the damage, other books are focused on the economy, others on how to reconstruct the most affected areas, etc.

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Here I leave you a talk that Hiroshi Ishii gave last month at TEDxTokyo in Miraikan

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Sakura blossomed!

The cherry trees (sakura) in Tokyo blossomed last week helping those of us here to continue with the diversity of our lives. This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people celebrated the arrival of spring under the flowers of sakura trees. If you are here, these are the best places to enjoy the event in Tokyo.

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. – Pablo Neruda

桜と大学生、Sakura & Schoolgirls

Sakura 桜

Sakura 桜

More 桜

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