Exploring Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, 109 Building, Sweets Paradise and Don Quixote


 

 

Fashion and fantasy in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
As you know, no sharp objects can be taken on a plane. So I wasn't carrying any scissors. So when I went down and picked up my waiting backpack I immediately realised I had no way of opening the 4 plastic straps that had been wrapped around it. I had to carry the 15 kilos by the handle. So this meant carrying and dragging it through the second part of customs/quarantine, then over to information counters to buy a limited express train ticket for the kensei line, downstairs on to the train then out on to the streets of Asakusa. 

The train was on time and got to Asakusa station in the 71 minutes advertised. 

But even with the map that Sakura Hostel had on their website and an on street 'you are here' sign, I was so exhausted carrying the bag that I chose to take a taxi. The driver found the map very useful but, as it turned out, the hostel was in a secure area and so the taxi wasn't allowed to go there at that time. Only bikes!

So I dragged my bag through the small darkly lit streets until I found it.

There was some demolition and renovation being done next to Sakura hostel, almost completely obscuring the sign that advertised where they were. If I had come during the day time I would never have found it. Only the neon pink light coming from a side alley signified their location.

My debit card didn't work. Even though I'd rung my bank to confirm that I would be using it in Japan for a certain period, I hadn't rang early enough. It takes 2-3 days to activate card roaming! My other card worked though.

Got to my bed. I was sharing with 7 other people. Sakura-hostel is fairly new. You can smell the varnish and new paint. They also have internet access for 100 Yen for 15 minutes, and you can save what you don't use.

The guy at the counter was fairly helpful and assisted with several of my questions. I wasn't able to find a phone though.

I spoke with one of the women staying in my room. She had a terrible story to tell about her husband being pickpocketed while they watched a street performance not far from the hostel.

Went downstairs and sent emails as well as went for a walk to find a phone. Couldn't work it out for international calls. There weren't any English instructions. Got back and went to bed.

What a day. So much to talk about that I'm bound to forget something!

Checked email then headed out to find a snack. Went to Family Mart again and got a vinegar/radish/rice triangle. (I had been in there last night trying to recharge an international calling card on a complicated multicard recharging machine)  Also bought an umbrella. (It stopped raining just after I bought it but it was definitely useful later)  Had started looking into how to get to Alan's place when he emailed to say we should meet in Shibuya. Great!

So I looked up the map in Lonely Planet Japan and spotted an obvious meeting place near Shibuya station - Hachiko statue. So I jumped on the train and headed for Shibuya.

I walked back and forth around Shibuya, through Tokyu shops and other places but I couldn't find it.

Then I found a map on the station stair wall that showed the location. But guess what! I'd walked past it several times without realising! It's not a huge statue of an important person, it's a tiny statue of a dog!

When I had told Alan that we should meet there he had said 'Great! That's the Woolworths Metro of Shibuya' In Sydney I use the QVB statue as a meeting place but I suppose the Metro is just as good.

 When you exit Shibuya station there are many exits you can take. But on most platforms you'll see a sign saying Hatchiko exit! Follows those signs and you'll get to the tiny dog statue next to the smoking section.

The Hatchiko exit also leads to one of the most busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. Literally thousands of people cross every time the light changes and at least 2 million people cross every day.

When you get to this exit you'll immediately be blasted by the noise of the traffic and the 3 huge advertising screens displaying video and sound of everything from TV shows and performs to half naked dancing troups.

The interesting thing is that there's a huge section for smokers, so about 50 people were sitting or standing in the smoking area puffing away - from 15 year old girls to 80 year old men.

Alan took me on a short tour of Shibuya and we headed to Sweets Paradise - a place full of Japanese girls eating desserts. 1480 yen each meant you got all you could eat of the desserts, the spaghetti dishes, the sweet crushed ice serves, the soft serves, tea and coffee and other things, in an hour and a half.

The food was delicious but very creamy and I thought, unless you could eat a lot, probably overpriced. (After spending a few days there I realised that this was quite cheap and that, when I'm paying $AU7 for a beer and $AU6 for a coffee, $AU16 is definitely reasonable)

Afterwards we went to THE fashion mall in Shibuya. A massive 10 floor phallic shaped building full of girls fashion shops. Within 60 seconds of me taking out my video camera a security guard came over and asked me to switch it off. So much for the theory that cameras were accepted anywhere in Japan.

We also went into Don Quixote which is a major discount chain selling absolutely everything from cosplay costumes and underwear with an opening, to luggage and combination locks, personal dvd players to spirits and liqueurs. And the alcohol was so cheap!

I bought an adaptor for the video camera and then we headed to the bus stop. 20 minutes wait but we were one of the first in the queue so were able to get a seat.
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