#69 Shibuya

Shibuya is a busy shopping district in Tokyo famous for:

  • Hachiko
  • lot’s of shopping
  • the crossing:

… and that’s about it.

I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed when I went to Shibuya. It seems that it’s reputation of being a busy, social area is true, but for the same reason as for most of Tokyo – there are many people there because… there are many people there. As quite a few Japanese people have told me, the least ‘Japanese cultural place’ in Japan is coincidentally – it’s capital. If you’re looking for Japanese history, or to be exposed to traditional cultures and customs, you’ll find little of it in Tokyo.

With western clothes brands and chain restaurants aplenty, Shibuya feels a lot like the center of almost any big city in the world. If you’re a fan of fashion and shopping, this is the place for you. In Center Gai you may see a lot of fashion trends that seem crazy now, but wait a little while and they could be on the wildest catwalks of New York one day.

Also, it is perfectly possible to spend almost an entire day in the massive shopping malls, some several floors tall, including Tokyu and Shibuya 109 (pictured above).

At night, the district comes to life with neon lights and advertisements and people bustling this way and that, meeting up and making their way to clubs and bars.

If it wasn’t for the occasional hiragana or Kanji written on signs (along with English), it would be all too easy to forget that you’re in Japan at all – my Japanese friends were right, there was hardly any ‘culture’ there (if anything is more demonstrative of this it’s that the only museums in the area worth mentioning exhibit 1. tobacco and 2. electric power) but the place is quite lively and if you’re anything like me you’ll completely ignore this minor weakness and go all the way there just to take a picture with a statue of a dog and to cross the (in)famous intersection anyway.

Well, at least there are some things you can do that don’t cost a penny.


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