Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Tokyo in Black and White - Nishi-Shinjuku

If I remember correctly, when I first arrived in Tokyo in 1991 the day after my arrival I went to Shinjuku.  The place scared the heck out me. I’d never seen anything bigger. People, cars, buses, taxis, trains and big buildings everywhere.  It was scary. In one part of the area, everything seemed to going up vertically, at a rapid pace. I soon found out that area called Nishi-Shinjuku, just over the train tracks from the station.  It’s changed a lot over the years, but essentially it is still the same - home to many of Tokyo’s big skyscrapers and that makes it home to many of the big corporations that are located in the city. It was a great place back then, and it is still a great place now.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower seen from just outside JR Shinjuku Station

Office workers out for lunch on a hot summer afternoon

For this article I spent a few hours there one summer morning and enjoyed it immensely.  Tokyo is an always changing city and Nishi-Shinjuku is no exception. I’ve seen old pictures of the area and if I’m correct, it used to the home of a huge water purification plant until the latter half of the 1960s when the first skyscrapers started going up.  Actually, the area, from 1932 to 1947 was named Yodobashi ward. In 1947 the wards were rearranged and the area was renamed Shinjuku, but the area of Yodobashi still exists.

Looking up at the ceiling of the NS Building

I had never seen anything like Nishi-Shinjuku when I first arrived, so many big skyscrapers in such a small area.  Brisbane, in Australia, where I had spent much of life had nothing to compare. Even in 2018, I still find it an exciting area.  Yes, in some ways it is showing its age as many of the skyscrapers were built back in the 1970s, but like many other places in Tokyo, things are always being pulled down and something else put up.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower

The most impressive one in recent years to go up has been Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, a 204 meter-high educational complex.  It is an incredible building and very iconic. I’m just hoping we get some buildings that are a little different to the standard concrete and glass rectangular boxes of the 1970s and 80s.  The future deserves something new.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi-Shinjuku

One of the views offered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's observation decks

The Keio Plaza Hotel

The most important building in Nishi-Shinjuku though is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.  Completed in 1991 it was designed by Kenzo Tange and the forty-eight floor building is said to look like a computer chip and has observation decks on the forty-fifth floors.  If you ever need a free observation tower in Tokyo, this is definitely the place to go.

You can find in Nishi-Shinjuku

Nishi-Shinjuku is a great place to enjoy a walk due to all the great architecture and many famous landmarks.  Unlike many other places in Tokyo, most of the streets are quite wide and very street! You’ll also find some of streets are tree-lined which is quite nice.  And if you walk enough you’ll even find the big love sculpture in front of the Shinjuku i-Land Tower. Another interesting place to check out is Shinjuku Eye, which is much closer to JR Shinjuku station, but I’ll leave that to you to discover where it exactly is.  

The Sonpo Japan Building

Shinjuku Eye

You can also do a lot of shopping, especially for electronic related stuff as Yodobashi Camera and Biq Camera are there.  My favourite though is MAP Camera, which is where I buy all my photographic gear.

I have a lot of good memories of Nishi-Shinjuku, and I still get the chance to make new ones when I go there now.  And I still get to find new places to photograph too. If you ever have to chance to visit it, I’m sure you’ll find a lot there to keep you interested.