My 3rd day in Shinjuku will start on a quiet note. Unlike the vibrant nightlife of this area, I'm going to start the day by discovering some ancient artifacts at the nearby Samurai Museum.
I've read that this place has remnants dating as far back as 800 years. Also in this part of town is an influx of Pachinko parlors.
I don't know much about these parlors (or the machines), other than that they're the biggest form of gambling here.
I made the daily pilgrimage to the nearby convenience store and picked up an egg sandwich for breakfast.
Unlike the V-shaped Pork Cutlet I inhaled yesterday, this sandwich is nothing but consistent... And delicious.
I'm not a food critic, but I'm sure I'll get to a point where I could rate the freshness of packaged food by the end of this trip.
With breakfast out of the way, I made the quick jaunt to the Samurai Museum. The multi-floored museum has an array of weapons, armor, and artifacts from a bygone era.
To help explain the different pieces, I was assigned a tour guide.
During the tour, the guide let me know that I can try on some armor and get some epic photos at the end. Until then, I'm treated to a sword demonstration by the guide.
The ferocious, swift motions of the sword are matched by the war cries being hymned by the overanxious guide.
For a few moments, this guy seemingly channels his ancestors' battle-worn auras and appears ready to fight the entire planet. The demonstration was cool and quite a sight to experience.
One thing that did disappoint me about the visit was that a good number of the artifacts here at the Museum are recreations and that a better selection of old Samurai garb can be found
at another place in town. Regardless, the visit was the right way to start the day and I now have photos of me in full Samurai gear.
After lunch, I found a nearby Pachinko parlor and decided to give this enigmatic pinball-looking game a try.
From what I understand, Pachinko is one of the few devices here that can be used for gambling, but not to the extent that you usually see elsewhere.
For example, the machine is set up vertically and looks more like a pinball machine than a typical gambling machine.
The object of the game is to catch as many of the silver balls dropped into the machine as you can. Beyond that, I have no further explanation as to how or why this game works.
After a few embarrassingly bad tries, I cut my losses and walked away a moral winner. The game was deceivingly hard and easily addicting.
What gives this game a legal loophole is that you don't win money from the game, itself. Instead, you win "tokens" based on the number of silver balls that you retrieved.
Those tokens can then be exchanged for cash. Why they have that kind of system is beyond me, but perhaps it may be something due to the area that I'm in.
Kabukicho has been long regarded as Tokyo's "red light district". The bright nightlife and atmosphere are also accompanied by suspicious activity in its underbelly.
Many of the businesses here are rumored to be run by local gangs and therefore, have different methods for luring in unsuspecting visitors.
When nightfall hits, I begin to see some of these tactics put into place.
After dinner, I made another stroll through the popular area and was inundated by outgoing "hype men".
Like I was saying a moment ago, many businesses around here hire guys to lure customers with promises of "great deals" on drinks, women, etc.
What really happens is that customers are taken into these businesses and are then scammed into large bills with inflated costs for drinks, food, and about any other temptation you can imagine.
To top that all off, it appears that many of these workers are foreign.
I don't know if it's coincidental due to a tough job market or a planned tactic by the business, but it comes off as a very calculated move by the owners of said businesses.
Speaking of savory business tactics, Kabukicho also has an abundance of "love hotels" within the neighborhood.
The concept of these hotels is inherently Japanese, as I've rarely seen or heard of these in any other place I've been to.
It is considered rude here to have fun in many traditional residences.
Because of the thin architecture and multi-generational households being common, the concept of having hotels for hooking up became extremely popular.
Unlike their traditional counterpart, these hotels can be booked by the hour and can be done without ever coming face to face with another person.
On a slight whim, I stumbled my way into one of these establishments and booked an hour in one of their rooms.
As you can imagine, there's a theme and motif for about every kind of flavor that you could imagine.
In addition to their variety, they also have concierge services that can deliver everything from food/drink to other things, without having to interact with anyone.
Some of which are even in a vending machine format, so it's like picking out something to drink, but with a sexual flair.
I spent my hour wandering about the room, just laughing at some of the observations I'm making.
Don't get me wrong, the idea is awesome (and practical). I just couldn't help but revert to childlike humor walking around here as a single person.
I'll make sure to visit another one of these in the future, just next time, I'll have company.
My hour swiftly ends and I find myself checking back out into the dingy, neon-tinged streets of Kabukicho.
This part of Tokyo is everything I thought it would be, and then some. Neon attractions, crammed bars, unique gambling parlors. Oh, not to mention, about any vice you could ever want.
It may not be Amsterdam, but this is an eastern interpretation of what a Red Light District should be.
Tomorrow, I head across town and check out the infamous electric town of Akihabara. That place is the presumed mecha of all things electronics and gaming.
After today's Pachinko debacle, I'm ready to get my hands on a normal gaming console.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!