January 8, 2006 part 1 – Adventures in Shinjuku

Shinjuku - tmgb view

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.

UPS and I got up early in the morning, and met The Penpal at Mishima station in order to go to Tokyo for the day. I love having a chance to introduce my girlfriend to friends from home. I was hoping to get a chance to do that on a large scale over the Christmas holidays, but she was unable to get the time to travel to Canada.

I wasn’t worried at all about UPS meeting The Penpal. He is one of those friendly people who can have a conversation with anyone. We took the shinkansen from Mishima to Shinagawa, talking the whole way. By the end of our hour long trip, The Penpal and UPS were talking like old friends.

Our first stop of the day was Shinjuku. It’s always impressive to show off the tall buildings around Shinjuku station. Today was Sunday, so we got a chance to look at the buildings without the usual mobs of people crowding us. It was almost a bit spooky to see how empty the streets were. We walked in the direction of the Tokyo Metro Government Building, making sure to pass through the NS building to see the world’s largest water clock. I filled UPS in on my adventures coming to this building two years ago for NOVA new employee orientation. Even though it had only been 2 years, it felt like a whole lifetime ago.

As we left the NS building and continued towards the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, we saw a strange sight; a small ramen stand in the middle of an empty courtyard surrounded by people. As we got closer, we noticed TV cameras, and standing in line for ramen was comedian Hard Gay. They were filming something for one of his TV appearances.


As someone who has lived in Japan for over 2 years, I am now used to the idea of a muscular, leather clad comedian named “Hard Gay”. It took some explaining to get UPS to understand what he was looking at, and I promised to show him some Youtube videos later. UPS took out his camera to capture the moment, but one of the producers came over and asked politely in Japanese not to take pictures. I translated for UPS and he put his camera away, although in retrospect this would have been a good opportunity to forget Japanese and get a picture of Hard Gay in action.

We eventually got to the Metro Government building, and went to the observation level, located 202 meters above street level. We spent about an hour taking looking at the never ending sprawl of the Greater Tokyo area in every direction. We also got a picture with the cute mascot of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (TOEI). I don’t know why every business and government department in Japan feels the need to have a cute mascot, but maybe that’s because I am Canadian.

Shinjuku - mascot

We could have spent a lot more time in Shinjuku, but had to keep moving to take advantage of UPS’s short time in Japan. Next stop: Meiji Shrine.


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