Welcome to 'World Journeys' (the blog)! Formerly known as 'The Greater World', World Journeys is written by Andrew Boland, a traveller approaching 40 who has visited 69 countries, and counting!
This blog features any travel I am doing, and thoughts, memories and the like from my past trips, not to mention photos. Please come back regularly to read about some of the interesting, and different places I have visited!
Friday, April 18, 2014
An Evening in Shinagawa
If Shibuya is Tokyo being pretty darned trendy, Shinagawa is
Tokyo perhaps getting down to business. Well, my wife told me it was a business
district, although to me there seemed to be a few hotels and restaurants there.
It features the most impressive, in my opinion, of Tokyo’s stations. There’s a
big arched roof above a walkway that runs from the north to south exits that
people bustle through. That’s where you find the Japan Rail entrance to the
station. It’s a really big station too, one that’s pretty easy to get lost in.
I headed to Shinagawa yesterday evening to meet my wife and
some of her friends for dinner, and I was a bit early. So I thought I’d take a
stroll around and snap a couple of pictures. Pretty much attached to the
station was a Pachinko/slot place. They are unbelievably popular here. I once
wondered where the good people of Ichinoseki all were as the main streets were
often dead, and one day I went into a pachinko place and found 90% of the
machines taken and there were hundreds in that place, possibly over a thousand.
Almost definitely. And there are dozens in my old hometown.
Pachinko is almost a cross between a pinball game and a slot
(pokie) machine. You get a whole bunch of gold balls and try to guide them into
a winning position – the machine is upright though, and you have very little
control, much less than a pinball machine for example. Anyways, outside this
place there were two guys dressed up and dancing trying to get people to go
inside. They weren’t having much luck. I wonder if I could get a part time job
On the north side of the station, after passing people
walking through the arched walkway which was seriously grand, was the part of
Shinagawa I haven’t really explored at all. It seems a lot of restaurants are
in that area, 6-8 people were out hawking for their restaurants with menus in
hand and aprons on. Business men and women with stern faces took the escalators
up to the station on their ways home, and every now and again one person would
be smiling and laughing, relieving my worries that everyone in Tokyo is just
working until they die with no enjoyment from life whatsoever.
Inside the restaurant.
There was little to none of the Harajuku colour, the artisan
spirit, the outfits and non-conformity that you can see in other places in
Tokyo in Shinagawa. And then it was time for dinner as my wife arrived and we
met her friends at a French Restaurant on the other side of the station called ‘Aux
It was very ‘colonial’ in design, reminding me of décor more
attuned to the 40s I guess, and somewhat reminiscent of a restaurant (also
French) I went to in Yaounde, capital of Cameroon. I really loved the look of
the place, although the waiter who served us, who was French, didn’t crack a
smile until the end of the night when we were paying the bill and I said to him
‘Please smile, you look so stressed’, and then he did. Which was a relief.
In fact this was the third French restaurant I have been to
inside a week! And no, I didn’t choose any of them! The menu was limited, but
we were in the lunch/bar area. It was great for my wife to catch up with her
friends, and I must remember what it’s like when we move back to Australia to
be at a table and understand less than 10% of the conversation. Although my
wife speaks a lot more English than I do Japanese, it will still be very hard
for her. Listening is always the hardest thing!
And so we walked back to Shinagawa station to take the train
back to Yokohama and beyond (we are in the suburbs here). The train was packed,
lots of standing, but apparently nothing like peak hour. Take care everyone,
more coming tomorrow. From now on on Sunday I will be posting a retrospective
on a place I visited in the past, in an attempt to not be posting everyday
Don’t forget to have a listen to the podcast. It’s the main
feature of yesterday’s blog. Each podcast will get its own dedicated blog post.
The station at night.
Tomorrow it’s back to the Japan Survival Guide – I’m going
to talk about Japanese foods! And a little bit about grocery shopping! May the
journey never end!