Shibuya is the shopping and entertainment neighbourhood with everything: classy shopping boutiques, wide range of restaurants, hip bars, world-class night clubs, unbeatable record shops and mind-boggling neon signs. Shibuya, Tokyo’s most colourful and busiest district, is a centre for youth fashion and culture, and its streets are the birthplace to many of Japan’s fashion and entertainment trends. The intersection is lit up by neon advertisements and giant video screens, making it a popular photo spot. Shibuya has more two-story televisions than any other area in the world.
I have heard about the Shibuya Crossing but never thought much about it until I actually visited it. It is the large intersection in front of Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station and is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. When the traffic lights turn red at this busy junction, they all turn red at the same time in every direction. Traffic stops completely and pedestrians surge into the intersection from all sides, like ants spilling from nests that have been disturbed. We observed this ‘phenomenon’ from the second-story window of the Starbucks in the QFRONT building on the crossing’s north side. This Starbucks outlet is one of the world’s busiest Starbucks outlets.
We visited the The Hachiko Statue near the Hachiko Exit. This statue celebrates the life of Japan’s most famous dog, Hachiko, and his legendary loyalty to his owner. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. Ueno would commute daily to work, and Hachikō would leave the house to greet him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued the daily routine until May 1925, when Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, while he was giving a lecture, and died without ever returning to the train station in which Hachikō would wait. Each day, for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
The QFRONT building is home to Tsutaya, a movie rental shop. While having coffee at Starbucks situated on the first floor, my son Leslie and I made our way to Tsutaya just to have a look at this Japanese pop culture wonderland. We also dropped in WIRED TOKYO 1999, a famous two storey book store / café situated on the seventh floor of the building.
Shibuya is filled with amazing stores, Japanese gastropub known as izakaya (居酒屋) , karaoke and arcades. It is where you’ll find Shibuya’s youth subcultures hanging out. It is here that you will find Shibuya 109, a trend setting fashion complex for young women and an icon of the Shibuya district with more than one hundred boutiques on ten floors.
Spain Slope (Supeinzaka) is a narrow, approximately 100 meter long pedestrian street with stairs leading up the slope to the Parco department store. It is lined by boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and was nicknamed for its resemblance to a Spanish street scene.
During our 6 days’ stay in Japan, we went to Shibuya twice. We had a kawaii (cuteness) overload when we were window-shopping in the area. It is a place definitely worth more than just one visit!