This is where you’ll find that crazy scramble intersection and the neighborhood where young Tokyo goes to play. Even if you’re not an under-25 shopoholic making a beeline for the sacred 109 Building, don’t miss the comic book café, and three stores that never fail to entertain with only-in-Japan products.
The best time to see Shibuya is during the afternoon and evening, bacause it’s the one place that gets better as it becomes more crowded. First we’ll cross the famous intersection in front of Shibuya Station, where over a thousand people people are unleashed every time the light changes. If you like, we’ll go up to the second floor of the Starbucks across the street, for pix.
So what kind of things would you like to see in Shibuya?
• The 109 Building: chock full of boutiques dealing in miniskirts, patterned stockings, and All Things Young, Japanese & Female.
• Men’s 109: home to all the great brands that Japanese motorcycle dudes and guys who work in host clubs love. There’s even a store that sells rhinestone-encrusted car accessories that’ll turn your ride into a total blingmobile! If we get hungry, we can stop at the Hoshino Cafe on the second floor for the Godzilla of Pancakes.
• Tokyu Hands: This is a must-see. It’s six floors of everything, including: beer brewing labware, face-shrinking masks, obscure Japanese kitchen tools, snake venom facial treatments, electronic chanting monks, extreme manscaping products, and more! We’ll start at the top and spiral down.
• Don Kihote: A racier and cheaper version of Loft and Tokyu Hands, Don Kihote serves up wacky surprises around every corner. It’s the go-to store for cheap costumes, pillows that look like boobs, fake eyelashes, cheap electronics, and strange sandwiches.
• Tower Records: the foreign books floor is a good place to pick up English guidebooks other non-Japanese reading material
• Hikarie: The 6th and 7th floors of this highrise mall next to Shibuya Station are filled with all kinds of restaurants, including one that serves beer slushies in the summertime.
Now that we’re all shopped out, we’d better stop for some refreshment. How about the Butler Cafe, where handsome young foreign men in tie and tails will serve us tea and treat us like the royalty we are, tiara and all?
Now that we’re revived, maybe a little skatin’? There’s a great skate park up next to the train tracks by the station. Miyashita Park has a highly amusing set of rules, but it’s an awesome park and it only costs ¥200 an hour to skate there.
Most stores open at 10:00 am
Nearby destinations: Harajuku, Japan Traditional Craft Center, Meiji Shrine, Roppongi, Shimo-kitazawa, Shinjuku, Yoyogi Park
Read a novel set in Tokyo