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Discover A Different Side of Shinjuku

Jun 26, 2018

Are you tired of doing touristy things in Japan? Do you want to see a deeper side of Japanese culture? 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 only a few other travelers do. So, where to start? What are some easy-to-get-to local places for travelers?
Head to Shinjuku! Shinjuku, which is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Tokyo, has unique, hidden places where you can catch a glimpse of the local culture.

Mosakusha (模索舎)

A 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station, located around the corner close to the entrance of Shinjuku Gyoen, there is a small door of what looks like a house. Established in 1970, Mosakusha is a small bookstore where books and magazines that cover controversial topics sold. Topics include LGBT, Right Wing ideology and war.

According to its website, they think it is important to preserve diversity of expression. They also believe that it is essential to preserve diversity in media and the publishing industry. Therefore, in this bookstore, you can find books that you don’t often find in the usual book stores that you might drop by.

When I visited, there were a few customers inside. There was a guy who looked like a stereotypical otaku, and also a middle-aged woman in search of some books. There was also a man who I presume was the owner of the bookstore. The corridors between bookshelves are very narrow, but you still have space to browse. Newspapers and magazines are piled up on the floors. You will truly find another world upon opening the small door.

A 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 2-4-9 Shinjuku, Tokyo [Google Map]

Suehirotei (末廣亭)

For the next stop, let’s go somewhere we can laugh.
Suehirotei is a “Yose”, a Japanese entertainment hall that shows rakugo or manzai comedy shows. You can enjoy these shows throughout the year.

Rakugo is a one-person comedy show that is regarded as a classical form of storytelling. The storyteller wears a kimono and sits on a cushion on stage, and portrays many people in conversation. To do each role, the performer changes their voice and the direction they are facing. 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 man. Both kinds of shows are among the most famous Japanese entertainment, and give you the opportunity to learn about the uniqueness of Japan.

The cost to see one set of performances is 3,000 yen (adults, no reservation required). A daytime set of performances begins from 12:00 pm and ends at 4:30 pm. Evening performances are held from 5:00 pm to 9:00 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 several 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 1000 yen. When I dropped by on a weekday, there were many audience members ranging from children to elders, and both women and men. Don’t hesitate to drop by!

A 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 3-6-12 Shinjuku, Tokyo [Further Informaiton]

If you understand a little Japanese these places are perfect to check out. If you are a frequent visitor to Japan, I think you will find it exciting to go somewhere new. Even if you are not familiar with the Japanese language, it’s ok! Just step inside and enjoy the mood! These places are sure to make your trip very memorable.