This post serves as a supplement to the The Gaijin Ghost’s Tweetstorm Travel Guide for Kabukicho.
If you read that guide, and took the time to scroll through the Kabukicho photo gallery on this website, you may have noticed that the guide leaves some of the pictures in the gallery unaddressed. Here we take a quick look at what the things in those pictures are.
The Shinjuku Piccadilly
With an all-white lobby that looks like something out of a science fiction movie, this was the go-to theater in Shinjuku, before Toho Cinemas started muscling in on its territory.
In 2012, the Shinjuku Piccadilly was one of the few theaters in Japan to hold HFR screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
In 2013, director Quentin Tarantino attended a special screening of his film Django Unchained here. Across the street, in Golden Gai, Tarantino is said to keep his own bottle of whiskey at a Francophile bar called La Jetee.
Speaking of Golden Gai, Bar Albatross is located there, as well.
Anthony Bourdain fans may recognize the antler chandeliers at Bar Albatross from an episode of his CNN travel show Parts Unknown.
Whereas some bars in Golden Gai seem to cater to a more regular or exclusive clientele, and can be slightly inhospitable to foreign interlopers who just barge in, Bar Albatross has a friendlier atmosphere.
Coming out the East Exit of Shinjuku Station, you will encounter this bookstore off to the right, on your way to Kabukicho.
There are two Kinokuniya locations in Shinjuku. The one in Takashimiya Times Square holds a larger selection of English books: the largest in Japan, actually. But if you can brave the claustrophobic elevator ride up to the floor where they are sold, you will also find a decent selection of English books in this location.
Then you can also have the satisfaction of shopping at the same bookstore where novelist Haruki Murakami bought the pen and paper to write his first book.
Or maybe you can buy a book by “the other Murakami,” Ryu. Reading his psychological thriller In The Miso Soup might be enough to ward you off ever wanting to explore the seedy side of Kabukicho.
Black and Red Novelty Burgers
The four-story McDonald’s franchise in front of Seibu Shinjuku Station is one of three locations in Shinjuku that first offered squid-ink burgers on a trial basis.
Served on a black bun with spicy cheese sauce, these delicious burgers were part of a 2014 Halloween promotion designed to compete with Burger King Japan, which had started selling black burgers of its own that year.
As far as BK goes, however, The Gaijin Ghost was much more partial to its Aka Samurai Chicken burger. Available for a limited time in 2015, this delectable sandwich was served on a red bun with “angry” chili sauce.
Located on a crucial corner of Yasukuni Dori, near the train tracks and entrance to Kabukicho, the three linked screens of Yunika Vision bear the distinction of being Japan’s largest high-definition LED screens. Used for advertising, these screens are to Kabukicho what the Q-Front display is to Shibuya.
Nearby, the discount chain Don Quijote, otherwise known as “Donki,” has a store that sells cheap batteries, Halloween costumes, and various other goods.
So if you want to get dressed up, load some batteries into your camera, and take pictures of yourself eating a black burger at McDonald’s (one can only hope they bring it back someday), this is a good place to get started on that quest.
Finally, though it was addressed, right off the top, in the Tweetstorm Travel Guide, the kitschy cabaret Robot Restaurant gets a mention here, as well.
For anyone curious to see what it is like inside the restaurant, beyond a few static pictures, here is a 60-second clip, in which you can see dudes in spiky armor wailing on the saxophone and guitar, while robo-dancers groove, and a couple of girls on silver unicorns belt out a high-energy cover of the Lady Gaga song “Telephone.”
The air was electric that night. Alas, the video quality here is poor.