Are you fed up with doing touristy things in Japan? Do you want to see a deeper side of culture in Japan? It is always difficult to get to know more about the local culture and people when staying in Japan for only a short time. However, many travelers want to experience a local adventure, and want to know about places few other travelers know yet. So, where to start? What are some easy-to-get-to local places for travelers?
Head for Shinjuku. Shinjuku, which is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Tokyo, has two unique, hidden places where you can catch a glimpse of the local culture.
A 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station, located around the corner close to the entrance of Shinjuku Gyoen, there is a small door of a house. Established in 1970, “Mosakusha”(模索舎) is a small bookstore, where “unfamiliar” books and zines are collected. For example, LGBT, Right Wing, how to die, war, knives and guns…. These are some of the topics that you can find in this bookstore.
According to its website, they think it is important to keep preserve the diversity of expression. They also believe that it is so essential to preserve diversity in the media and the distribution system of the publishing industry. Therefore, in this book store, you can find books that you don’t often find in the usual book stores that you might drop by.
When I stepped in there were few customers inside. There was a nerdy-looking guy, and also a middle-aged lady in search of some books. There was also a man who I think was the owner of this bookstore. The corridors between bookshelves are totally narrow, but they still allow you to stand in front of the bookshelves. Newspapers and magazines are piled up on the floors. You will find another world upon opening the small door.
A 10-min. walk from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 2-4-9 Shinjuku, Tokyo
For the next stop, let’s go to a place for laughing.
Located in Shinjuku, “Suehirotei” (末廣亭) is a place called “Yose”, which is a Japanese entertainment hall that shows rakugo or manzai. You can enjoy these Japanese entertainment shows throughout the year.
Rakugo is a one-person comedy show, a classical form of storytelling. The storyteller wears a kimono and sits on a cushion on stage, and plays many people in conversation. To do each role, he changes his voice and the direction of his face. Manzai, on the other hand, is a stand-up comedy performed by a duo, and they exchange comical dialogues. Typically, one person plays the role of boke, or funny man, and the other plays the tsukkomi, or straight guy. Both kinds of shows are among the most famous Japanese entertainment, and give you the opportunity to learn about the uniqueness of this country.
The cost to see one set of performances is 3,000 yen (adults, no reservation required). A daytime set of performances begins from 12:30 pm and ends at 4:30 pm. Evening performances are held from 5 pm to 9 pm. You can go in and out at any time between the starting and ending times. Of course, you can sit and enjoy the shows for consecutive hours if you want. If you’re on a budget, why not go for a night set of performances on Saturdays? They are held from 9:30 pm to 11 pm, and it costs only 500 yen. When I drop by on a weekday, there are many customers ranging from children to elders, women to men. This is a place where you can easily learn about the uniqueness of Japanese culture.
A 10-min. walk from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 3-6-12 Shinjuku, Tokyo
If you understand a little Japanese it will be perfect to go to these places. If you are a frequent visitor to Japan, I think you will find it exciting to go, too. Even if you are not familiar with the Japanese language, it’s ok, just step in, and feel the atmosphere there! These places will make your trip very memorable in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
For more information → http://www.odakyu.jp/english/destination/shinjuku/