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Shinjuku Golden Gai area, dotted with narrow roads and dilapidated buildings, is among the few areas that are still reminiscent of Tokyo's past. Unlike the much of Tokyo that was redeveloped, this area is like a time capsule that continues to exist in its original condition. Tiny and shabby bars are the reasons behind Golden Gai's tourist glory. Surprising and weird isn't it? Well, the distinctive architectural features of these bars amidst the commercialized and developed Shinjuku has engineered this reputation. Most bars accommodate five to six people at a time, and are for those who don't mind coming in contact with others every time they move. Local celebrities and artists flock to this area, giving Shinjuku Golden Gai a distinctive clientele. Snack on traditional Japanese food like the famous barbecue chicken-Yakitori and enjoy some drinks in the pricey bars. Also, be sure to catch up on a comedy show in the mini auditorium in this area.
This Inari shrine is located in the center of Shinjuku's commercial district. Originally the Hanazono family provided their garden as a site for this shrine. Previously located near the Isetan department store, the shrine was later moved to its present site. Hanazono is unusual in that it holds an annual "festival of the fowls" (tori no ichi), which is not typically celebrated at an Inari shrine.
Near Shinjuku station, there are many small restaurants with nostalgic atmospheres. On weekdays, many businessmen who have finished a day's work have supper at this street. There are many kinds of restaurants along this street serving food like yakitori (barbecued chicken on a skewer), ramen, yakiniku (grilled slices of meat) and more. They are all inexpensive and delicious.
The busiest railway station in the world, Shinjuku Station handles some four million passengers daily. Japan Railways East, Odakyu, Keio and Seibu Shinjuku are some of the private companies operating trains in and out of out of this terminal. The station is packed with bars, restaurants, a couple of department stores, and kiosks selling everything from ties to tissues. Coin lockers are also available. The biggest thing to worry about here is the crowds, but they are generally quite orderly except on Saturday nights.
This Kenzo Tange-designed building, with its two distinctive soaring towers, was the tallest building in Tokyo until 2006, when it lost its title to the Midtown Tower. The building was completed in December of 1990, takes up three city blocks thanks to its three separate sections, and was designed to look like a computer chip. The building itself is stunning and - even better - there are free observation decks where visitors get incredible views of the city during both the day and at night. The TMGB's purpose is a gargantuan one, which befits the size and scale of the the building; here, the 23 wards, as well as all the towns and villages of Tokyo, are governed.
The Shinjuku Gyoen Imperial Garden mixes Western and Eastern influences in its layout with English, French and conventional Japanese gardens. It also has quaint tea ceremony houses and a greenhouse with a considerable collection of tropical plants. It is most famous for its 1500 cherry blossom trees, which in early spring paint the whole place with different hues of fluttering pink.
An unusual cherry tree where the number of petals varies from flower to flower has reputedly been flourishing at this shrine since the latter part of the 12th century. The main hall of Konno is the oldest extant building from the Edo period in this part of Tokyo. The shrine's gods, a white tiger and a tapir, grace either side of the hall. To the left of the main hall there is a stage for Noh theater.
Daikyo-ji is an excellent example of a town which has flourished around a temple. Although the tiled and gabled main gate of the temple dates to the late 1800s, the sculpting of the Buddhist statues in the alcoves has been attributed to an 11th century master craftsman called Jocho. The gate is located in the middle of the approach road to the temple amidst many shops—many of which sell monkey charms to the faithful to prevent disasters.