>>>Shibuya for shopaholics
Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Shibuya for shopaholics

If you love high-tech games and trendy brands, and you’re a manga freak, then Tokyo is for you. Above all, head to the downtown district of Shibuya. Here you'll not only find countless shops and super-sized malls, you can also go with the flow and join the masses on the busiest street crossing in the world.
B
ut if you’re not a people-person, stay well away from this, the commercial heart of the Japanese capital. The iconic ‘Scramble’ street crossing found just across from Shibuya Station is made up of five zebra crossings traversing a busy junction. As many as 1,000 people can be on the crossing at the same time, producing a fascinating spectacle as cars give way to huge tides of people rushing in every direction, most of them towards their next fix of retail therapy.
Shibuya might be the most popular crossing, but there are 300 similar scramble junctions throughout Japan.
Photo: NorGal / Shutterstock.com

Celebrating a true canine hero

Animal lovers continue to flock to the bronze statue of Hachiko, a dog famed for his loyalty. The Akita dog would greet his master at Shibuya Station every evening and continued to wait for him for ten years after the university professor died.

“If it has been invented, it’ll be here”. That’s the philosophy of Shibuya. And surely the philosophy of neighborhood’s main streets, namely Bunkamura-dori and Dogenzaka, is “the bigger, the better!” Here, you will find dozens of shopping malls packed with the biggest chains and brands, among them Japanese favourites like Loft, Tokyu Hands, Marui and Seibu. Meanwhile, other zones have different specialities: Ginza is the place to go for luxury brands, while a more extravagant level of luxury can be found in Ormotesand Street, right by the Zelkova trees. This is also where you will find the huge Omotesando Hills plus it’s close to Shibuya 109 arguably the area’s most famous department store, offering ten floors of temptations and located in a prime position right on the Shibuya crossing. In Shinjuku, meanwhile, it’s all about the latest technology, while Sugamo is the place to go to find small boutiques. And these are not the only dividing lines in this part of the city, as a stroll around the different areas will show.
Take a walk along Takeshita Street, for instance, and you’ll see it’s a big favourite with teenagers and young adults, especially those who have adopted the Harajuku trend, a mix of fashions now synonymous with this pedestrianized thoroughfare. The lolitas can be seen there, sporting their eye-catching mix of Victorian and Edwardian clothing like big skirts and petticoats, and, then there are the ganguro girls, suntanned blondes who would look more at home in California), and, of course, the cosplay enthusiasts, both male and female, dressed up as their manga idols.
The screenplay for the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, starring Richard Gere, was based on the true story of the famous Akita.
Photo: Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com
If the shopping gets too much, then Shibuya offers a massive variety of coffee shops, bars and restaurants. And, famously, the district is also home to a number of so-called love hotels, offering short-term accommodation and discreet privacy for amorous couples. Just as with the shops and the fashions, these love dens cater to almost every taste and are famous for their over-the-top decorations, bright lights and inventive room features such as themed rooms and vibrating beds.
Tokyo is easy-going and imaginative: from kawaii girls to the extravagant visual kei, the metropolis welcomes all.
Photo: Greir / Shutterstock.com
For Shibuya, the future now looks as bright as the exterior of a Tokyo love hotel. Four projects, to be worked on simultaneously, are in hand to further develop the area. Work will begin in 2018 with all the projects scheduled for completion in 2027. According to Tokyo mayor Ken Hasebe, the ambitious plans for this commercial hub, and above all, moves to improve the transport infrastructure here, will help put Shibuya on a par with London, Paris or New York. Head to the scramble crossing outside Shibuya Station at rush hour and feel the energy there, and you’ll see his vision isn’t so far-fetched.

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