Shibuya is one of the many entertainment districts in Toyko.
Unlike others it is very much oriented for youthful people. Fashion is big and besides all the big department stores like Marui and Tôkyû you can find anywhere, one is very special. Close to the station is the 109 Department store. On its 10 floors all the latest fashion for girls can be found. Going through it as a tourist perfectly shows how Japanese people like consumption.
Famous is the Tower Records store which is in fact the largest record store in the world.
Other attractions are the Hachiko statue in front of the station and the striking Shibuya Crossing right next to it. It is said to be the busiest crossing in the world, with the most people crossing at one time. When all traffic signs turn red the whole crossing is filled up with a mass of people criss-crossing the streets. This gives a great spectacle best seen from the 2nd floor of Starbucks on the opposite side of the station.
What is more, are the many nightclubs and bars that are unlike Roppongi more frequented by Japanese. Another notorious feature of Shibuya is the Dôgenzaka-Hill with the biggest concentration of Love Hotels in Tokyo.
Shibuya is a most lively shopping area in Tokyo. What I like is that it is is not so large as other main shopping centers like Ginza, Shinjiku, etc but it has everything to buy - electronic products, CDS and other audo-visual goods, top-class department stores like Tokyu and Seibu. There are many reasonably priced cafes, snack-bars, and restaurants all over here.
The crossing outside of Shibuya station is a bit overwhelming the first time you experience it. Upon exiting Shibuya station you will see giant television style billboards and lots of people in every direction. Generally Shibuya is popular with Japanese teenagers.
Among the thousands of shops in the Shibuya area. Shibuya boasts many small specialty
a gigantic HMV, and the
largest Tower Records in the world.
It would be easy for anyone to spend hours exploring all of the 8 floors of Tower Records .
Two major department stores, Seibu and Marui, are just as easy to lose oneself in. Both of these stores offer the best quality and most fashionable clothing possible. Also of interest is Tokyu Hands, a hardware store of sorts that encompasses every possible accessory for modern life.
In the area you will find also famous the
studios of NHK,
the Olympic gymnasium,
"Love Hotel Hill"
The building with "Shibuya 109", its a landmark.... The "109" name is clever. The Japanese word for 10 (ten) is "to", for 9 (nine) is "kyu". Join the two words together and you get "Tokyu"...:)
For entertainment most clubs and concert venues are located in the winding streets of the Dogen-zaka area of Shibuya. While classical concerts and museum expositions can be found at the Bunkamura center
Where once there had been tea plantations (circa 1880), Shibuya is now a very leafy shopping & cultural district. It is home to the famous multi-storied bright yellow Towers Record shop, the famous silver roofed Shibuya 109 department store with roof top video studio store, and home to numerous other international fashion brands. What's the pricing like, you might ask - it's more certainly expensive than the same item in HK, Singapore or Malaysia, but take note, the customer service is always excellent, whether you are simply browsing or seriously shopping. Change rooms are large, clean and there's usually a seat to rest your tired feet.
I was here on a Sunday morning and the streets (around Meiji Dori) was really rather quiet, with a few families seated at their favourite Cafe enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
The statue of the faithful dog Hachiko can also be found here- at one of the main entrances to Shibuya JR station (the entrance if named for the dog).
For those with a bit more time, check out the TEPCO Electric Energy Museum (Denryokukan: open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 10 am to 6pm) - it has 8 floors of electrical gadgets for curious adults and children to handle and play with.
Just outside Shibuya station is an intersection that is supposedly the world's busiest. And from what I saw on a Friday night there, I wouldn't doubt it one bit. Every three minutes the traffic lights turn red in all directions, allowing a freeflow of thousands of pedestrians across all at once. It's total madness and must be seen to be believed!
Because of the area where we were staying and because we were not traveling at rush hour, I was surprised at how relatively calm Tokyo seemed. (Compared to the popular image) It didn't seem anymore frantic than NY or other major cities. I did have a brief moment of the insantiy though when I popped out of the Metro station at Shibuya. Imagine Times Square neon and multi-street intersection with crowds, traffic, neon, subways, shops, video on a slightly smaller and closer scale and then image that the billboards all have sound. The resulting Cacaphony is impressive and wierd. Especially during a sunny day where it all seem disconcerting. I am 100% certain that without Shibuya, there could be no opening scene of Blade Runner. It's kind of cool and a good place to hang out watch people, shop, grab an inexpensive bit or coffee.
Shibuya is full of trendy and cool stores attracting younger generations of Tokyo. The famous Hachiko crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world and it is amazing when you watch people passing here coming from all directions under neon lights, billboards and large video screens. The name Hachiko comes from a loyal Akita dog that belonged to a Tokyo University professor in 1920's. Everyday Hachiko would wait at Shibuya station for his owner to return. After his owner died, Hachiko continued waiting everyday for 11 years. Well, this story is a good example of loyalty of dogs and recently the story has become a movie starring Richard Gere.
In Shibuya district you find the statue of the most loved dog for Japanese: Hachiko, who is remembered for his loyalty to his master.
It is said that this dog waited outside the subway station for his master every day, one day his master died but Hachiko kept on waiting for him every single day until he died 10 years later. Now his statue is a common point reunion where people "wait" for their friends just outside Shibuya station. Sad story!
The statue outside the north exit of Shibuya station is a regular meeting point for Tokyoans (is that the correct term ?).
The tale is a bit on the weepie side (hankies at the ready), of a dog who for a couple of years went to the train station and waited for his master to return. His master, a professor, died at work - but the dog returned every day for 10 years.
This impressive example of loyalty really touched something deep in the Japansese soul - and the statue was the result.
The picture is not of the statue, but of the dog itself when it was alive in 1932
Photo: Akita-Inu Preservation Society Inc.,
At the Hatchiko exit of Shibuya station is the world famous cross walk immortalized in Lost in Translation. It is truly amazing to watch. Hachiko is a very popular meeting point and you can people watch for ages. And yes if you wait long enough you should see the dinosaur on the giant screen. You can also cross the road and have a go at trying to get a window seat at the Starbucks.
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