Tuesday 8 July 2014

Shinbashi after dark

Shinbashi (pronounced Shimbashi, meaning "New Bridge") was the Tokyo terminus of the first ever train line in Japan that first started operations in 1872 between Tokyo and Yokohama.  It is now a major business centre in Tokyo and the train station remains a hub station for the Tokyo rail network.  In a recently released article naming the 50 busiest train stations in the world (of which 46 are in Japan!!), Shinbashi came in at number 12.

In fact, they have one of the old Steam Locomotives on display outside of the station.

Shinbashi is now the home of the headquarters of some of Japan's biggest companies including Yakult, Fujitsu, All Nippon Airways, advertising giant Dentsu, cosmetics company Shiseido, Panasonic, Nippon Television and the major telecommunications company Softbank.  As a result, Shinbashi is also home to thousands and thousands of "Salarymen and Office Ladies".  What are Salarymen and Office Ladies?  Simply put, office workers.  There is a big culture of drinking with your coworkers after work as a valve to relieve stress, afterall, the average office worker works very long hours so, therefore, there is a lot of stress to be released.  With so many office workers in one area, there needs to be a whole lot of bars, restaurants and izakayas. This post is a look at the Shinbashi area after dark, on a Friday night when it is at it's busiest!

I walked down some stairs that led under the station where there are a few subway lines that flow through Shinbashi. I stumbled upon a maze of shops and restaurants running through an underground walkway that eventually led to nearby skyscraper office buildings.

Further away from the station there is an area behind glass sliding doors.  I went through the doors and was hit suddenly by the strong but amazing aroma of Japanese curry.

I walked around a corner and was confronted with a sight that one of my friends described as "Deep Shinbashi"!

Lining either side of this area was tiny izakayas, bars and restaurants that I imagine salarymen and office ladies flock to after work to unwind and relax.  Now this was a real local gathering place!

I walked back outside and it was soon after 5:30 and staff from the nearby izakayas had started gathering outside the station waiting for the salarymen and office ladies to start streaming out of their offices.  It is actually a lot of fun to watch them at work, running around from group to group trying to tempt them into their izakaya.

Other people were standing around enjoying "streetbeer" and waiting for coworkers or friends to arrive before going to find somewhere to drink some more.

So i decided that when in Shinbashi, I should do as the locals do!

I sat down and watched the world go by and pretty soon, as happens quite often to me, someone wandered over to where I was sitting and started texting.  I knew what was happening right away.  She was using me as a landmark and texting her friend, probably saying something like "come out of ____ exit and look for the foreign guy.  I'll be standing next to him."

I guess I was probably the easiest person for her friend to see!  Sure enough, 10 minutes later her friend suddenly appeared and walked straight over!

Some young girls walked past in their kimonos

and then some more!

At around this time I had to go over Rainbow Bridge to quickly catch up with a friend so I made my way to the Yurikamome train line and encountered more girls in Kimonos!  I should probably explain at this time that these girls were not driving the train, the trains on the Yurikamome line actually have no driver!

It is a little strange the first couple of times, but it makes for an interesting ride!

After finishing up at Odaiba I came back across to Shinbashi and the outside the station it was just starting to come alive.  I started taking some photos and got ready for the action to begin!

Once leaving work, most people head to a restaurant or izakaya in the area.  The choices are almost endless!


tuna sashimi rice bowl,




tonkatsu (crumbed, deep fried pork cutlets, doesn't that sound amazing except to the vegetarians and vegans reading I guess.  Pretty much anything is going to taste great if it is crumbed and deep fried!).

beef rice bowl.

Endless numbers of bars,

and izakayas......oh so many izakayas.......

A lot of the younger office workers often go to the karaoke bars that line the streets for entertainment.

Then there are also these ladies lurking on the street corners appearing suddenly in an attempt to sell "massage....cheap massage" to the salarymen roaming the streets.

After drinking their fill, the dish of choice for the younger salaryman heading back to the station is ramen, while for the older ones it is soba.  I chose the latter on this night.

Beautiful in it's simplicity.

However, even amongst the craziness that is Shinbashi, I was still able to find this....

Having had a good night and celebrated the end of the week in style, the salarymen and office ladies made their way back to the station to make sure they got home by last train.

Sadly, a few just don't quite manage to make it home though, the week was just a little too difficult and long for them.

Well, that's it for another post.  Thanks again for reading and until next time, take care.


  1. Hi Jason,once again a very interesting article,with photos to match.I have heard about this area in Tokyo,but know nothing of it.The underground shots remind me so much of my time in Nihon.The bowl of noodles looked particularly enticing..oishii yo!.There is a play being put on by the Rinkogun Theatre Co. called "Cowra no Honcho Kaigi" until July 20th. at the Suzunari Theatre near the Shimokitazawa Eki.,which I suspect you may know about.This play will also be staged in Cowra next month.I thought you and your Japanese tomodachi may be interested in going.I have been to Cowra ,where there is a beautiful Japanese garden..perhaps you have been there as well?With the Tokyo Olympics heading your way,I can imagine your services may be required even more.Shinzo Abe has spoken in the Australian Parliament and seems to have a soft spot for Australia.I see that the Tanabata Matsuri is taking place around this time in Japan....maybe you have taken part?As you know,the "bombers" had a narrow win over Port last week and after watching it on TV.,they appear to have tightened up their defence.Pity about Goddard being suspended.Need to beat Collingwood this week,to give themselves a good chance to make the finals.On current form,they are a 50/50 chance I feel.All the best from 'crowland",Noel.

    1. Hi Noel,
      thanks again for reading. Shinbashi is an interesting area and after dark has a kind of sub-culture that emerges from the surrounding offices!
      I had heard about that production Noel, but I am currently in Malaysia and get back to Japan only the day before it ends. It would have been an interesting performance to see, that's for sure.
      I see that the Bombers did have another good win last weekend. Back into the eight now. Let's see if we can avoid the fall aways that we had the last couple of seasons.
      Take care,