Shinjuku to Shibuya...


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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shibuya
November 18th 2011
Published: November 17th 2011
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Early bird catches the sunrise...Early bird catches the sunrise...Early bird catches the sunrise...

From our hotel room, Shinjuku
Early start for some of us yesterday but we only just scraped out of the hotel by the 11am check out. Knowing we had until 2pm before we could check into our last minute hotel, we decided on that time-honoured tradition of killing time - SHOPPING! (Aisha: I have to note at this point that Japan is probably the first and only place I have ever ENJOYED shopping).

Leaving our bags, we wandered uptown through Shinjuku towards Kabukicho, Tokyo's red light district (although not very obvious during the day); and after finding Don Quixote (spelled Don Quijote here and apparently abbreviated to Donki) we began. Don Quixote is the kind of store where you can buy anything and everything (We're seeing this as a running theme, some stores over here don't care about specialising, they stock EVERYTHING) by everything we mean electronics to adult toys, novelty costumes to street clothes, nail art to panda shaped room humidifiers. Tess describes it as 'Clints on Crack'. Lonely Planet describes it as 'Tokyu Hands' trashier cousin'. Both are pretty accurate.

After dragging ourselves away from four very surreal floors of crammed in, labyrinthine shopping, we gave the 100 yen shop one last
We call it breakfast...We call it breakfast...We call it breakfast...

Convenience stores FTW.
going over before hitting another mall where Tess ended up on a hot date with a pair of silver and purple Adidas high-tops which appear to be made of about 90% win and 10% leather. Being of the giant foot persuasion, Aisha was forced to enjoy this bit of shopping vicariously. When we said to the very sweet shop assistant that he was jealous because there was no way any of the shoes would fit, she said very optimistically, "Oh no no, what size you are?" "Size 12," *dismayed and slightly concerned look* "......Oh. No. No shoe." Of course, it was only right to make a final detour via Tokyu Hands on the way back to the hotel.

By this time, our plan to kill a couple of hours and get down to Shibuya by late lunchtime was dead in the water by 3pm. So we grabbed a quick convenience store lunch of onagiri and what in retrospect must have been alcoholic lemon squash from our good friend FamilyMart we collected our now somewhat engorged bags from the hotel lobby. Being behind schedule, we now had to contend with the start of the peak hour Tokyo train rush with our big ole packs. Imagine a small goldfish bowl with 300 very polite goldfish in it and you'll get the idea. Wrestling our bags into the train, we both felt exceedingly happy that they were as comparatively small as they were (45L compared to the 60-80L packs of most backpackers), but even so, toes may have been trodden on and knees bashed into by certain nameless clumsy gaijin...

Every neighbourhood of Tokyo we visit seems to reveal a new part of the character of the city we didn't really appreciate before. Shinjuku was restrained and comparatively quiet with vertical shopping malls (rully good ones) and offices; Akihabara is a kind of fluorescent manga wonderland; and Shibuya... well Shibuya takes the cake. Neither of us had experienced anything like it before. SLowly making our way through the wash of crowds, trying not to knock people over with our bags we managed to find our new hotel. We parked, rested for a few seconds and recuperated - we're coming to appreciate the 15 minute breather, but for a culture this different where we don't speak the language, neither of us is finding it stressful, which is a plus.

But back to Shibuya Crossing. Lights, action, WHERE THE HELL DID ALL THESE PEOPLE COME FROM? Shibuya is fluorescent, boy band advertising, fashion peddling, hip and huge animated billboard advertising, teen and 20-something consumer paradise. Shibuya is the bright shining corporate future city of now. We hope the pictures will do it justice because it basically defies any other form of description.

After a very tasty dinner at a Japanese burger chain JS Burger (insanely tasty) we retired back to the hotel to rest up for an early start, because today is International Sanrio Puroland Day, and we know what that means, don't we children...


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