I need more Shinjuku in my life, I decided recently. Shinjuku is quintessential downtown Tokyo—and the metropolis’s largest hub with 3.5 million commuters every day—plus it’s conveniently located on our very own Odakyu train line. It’s bright, it’s crazy, it buzzes with pachinko parlors and a low murmur of constant Japanese—it’s Tokyo! Honestly, my main goal last weekend was to explore Kabukicho: Tokyo’s seedier side and red light district. I’d read this was a good place to find low-level yakuza (Japanese mafia) so I wanted to see. Their astonishingly large hair and ridiculous shoes made them hard to miss. Hello, mafia! Or mafia go-fers anyway. To get to Kabukicho, follow the signs in Shinjuku Station, or just look for the east exit and follow along the tracks north until Yasukuni-dori. Then look for this crazy sign for the fun to begin.Ok, that was interesting! Next on the agenda: overpriced cocktails in a sky-high lounge. Ha, so we thought! We got waylaid by—what else?—a surprise festival. Hanazono-jinja is all lit up most nights, but as we approached it became clear that it was so very much more than just lit up. Vendors selling elaborately decorated rakes called out to customers from dozens of tents. I asked one of them, “What is this?” in Japanese. He responded in a lot of Japanese. I looked puzzled. He demonstrated raking. Oh! Then he pointed to a kanji character which I assumed meant luck. Later I asked my students about it and they confirmed the rakes are for raking fall leaves and with them: luck, wealth, success, etc. After that, we crossed to the west side of Shinjuku Station and headed toward the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (the tallest building in Tokyo until 2006). We thought we’d start with the free observatory there before continuing on to the Hyatt for expensive drinks with a nice view. Waylaid again! This time there was a conference of Asian cities performing dance routines and distributing information. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese table was already closed, but we caught the end of the dances from Manila. A very short wait sent us up to the 45th floor, where we circled the north observation deck. From up here the city was a silent, moving panorama of twinkling white lights below and blinking red aviation lights atop all the buildings. A train moved through the picture into the station. I hadn’t expected a bar up here, but Bar T.R.N. la Terrazza Sabatini extended along most of a wall. Two empty seats faced Tokyo Tower and Shinjuku Station. Yes, please! For just over the price of the cover fee and two drinks at the Hyatt we had drinks and dinner! We had an eggplant amuse boche, olives, a cheese plate, pasta and…french fries (I ordered those). I had a Terrazzo Cherry Blossom Sour; Chris ordered something that got lost in translation but was tasty anyway. It was everything I was looking for: quiet except for the pianist playing in the cafe, dimly lit, overpriced, glamorous, unparalleled view—the perfect date. The couple next to us ordered champagne, then as soon as it came the girl pulled a teddy bear from her purse and set him and the champagne up for a photo, which she snapped with her cell phone. I love Japan! The cafe opens at 9:30am and the bar stays open until 11pm. After 7pm the bar has a 500 yen cover charge. To get to the Tokyo Government Metropolitan Building, go to Shinjuku Station and follow the signs for the building (you can’t miss it—it takes up three city blocks).