Where: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Between Meeting: Night Before Worldwide Meeting
Flights from North America into Tokyo’s Narita airport usually arrive late afternoon local time. It can be disorienting because these flights seem to get in only a couple of hours after departure, but they actually arrive the following day. Narita is a long way from central Tokyo so by the time one clears immigration and gets to a bus or train, its 7-8pm when finally checking into a hotel. Right about then the jet lag kicks in and it’s easy to crash. But I force myself to stay awake until midnight because I don’t want to wake up at 2:30am, and some of the best images to be made in Tokyo are at night.
We stay in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo. It’s a modern part of the city but my favorite section of Shinjuku is Omoide Yokocho or, Memory Lane. It’s the complete opposite of modern and is also known by another name. It’s basically a ramshackle ally jammed with cramp, tiny restaurants and bars just behind the train station. Late at night every seat is taken in these establishments by locals. The alley is filled with amazing smells, noise from the train station and an amber glow that reminds me of an old darkroom safelight.
The clock in the picture upper left is a nice time stamp showing how this area comes alive late at night. Someday I hope to return to this area with a guide who speaks Japanese and can introduce to the interesting people I see through the small windows, and can identify some of the unusual foods I see on the grills and in the Nabemono.