Saturday, October 23, 2010

New York Bar, Park Hyatt, Shinjuku

Darkness envelopes me as I exit from the medicinally quiet stillness of the Oedo line's City Hall terminus. This is a dead part of town at night, with no walkers and only the occasional filming session for a TV police procedural to break the womblike, tomblike silencium. Walking south along Shinjuku Central Park, the menacing bulk of Tokyo Citadel will loom over your left shoulder, if your camera's ISO capabilities are up to the job.

Once you navigate the confusing stairs, elevators and hallways required to gain entrance, the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt is more than welcoming - as well it should be for what they charge. They have whatever you want to drink, they have a bunch of good-looking food, and they have plenty of good-looking staff to welcome, seat and serve you.

The point though is the view. The more astute viewer may be able to tell at a glance what this is, but it took me a while to figure out the directions. It's actually sensible once you know - this is east-northeast, looking directly along Shinjuku Dori (or Koshikaido, said the girl who got us the cab) as it runs east toward Shinjuku 3-chome. The picture is centered on New Tokyo Tower, which is now visible from all over the city - including from my computer room, if you lean your head the right way. The Sky Tree is pretty cool; I think the major construction is almost done and we'll just be into the 'spire erection' phase soon. Unfortunately it's not that big; the lights you can see in the middle of the picture are just glare on the glass. I'm pretty sure the tiny speck at the bottom, just above all the red lights, is the observation deck.

As a steady diet, I don't recommend the restaurant or bar. But here's a great tourist strategy that I cooked up for a visitor a few years ago - go while it's still light and you can appreciate the daytime view. Nurse a drink. Watch as it gets dark. Continue nursing said drink. Enjoy the nighttime view. Finish your drink and leave. If you follow this approach, you'll miss out on the last iota of Lost In Translation-spotting by not seeing the live music, but you'll also avoid the (Y2200) cover charge imposed at 8 PM, and get out for Y1500 per person. I think it's important to economize in Tokyo.

Call me cheap, I dare you.

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