Ghibli Museum’s one of my “must-visits” but guides caution that you can’t just visit. It’s the fantasy of every Japanese from one to ninety-two – it’s like Mecca but unlike the one in Saudi Arabia, this one’s easily accessible, so it’s no surprise that tickets are regularly sold-out months prior. Naturally, I had to pass on it. My agenda today was to do a reconnaissance of the commercial districts in Tokyo. There’s no bones about it – Tokyo is a shopping paradise, but it’s a place where you just can’t spend on every whim and fancy – you’ll be broke in a heartbeat, that much is certain. So, after a fairly disappointing brunch at NYLON Cafe (the service was top-notch, as it is in Tokyo) in Harajuku, I zipped down to Shibuya.
Fukutoshin Line platform at Meiji-Jingumae (Harajuku) station
Fukutoshin Line concourse at Shibuya station
More thrilling and exciting than the sculpture that is of the dog Hachiko, is the scramble crossing at Shibuya station’s Hachiko Exit. Like exquisite clockwork with unraveled precision, the crowd scrambles out across the junction in a seeming mess but is in fact, an orchestrated commute – the perfect metaphor for Tokyo. It’s so hypnotic that I spend a few hours on the best seat of the house, at Starbucks, on the second level of Tatsuya Records (formerly HMV) just mesmerized by it while I sipped on my piping hot Green Tea Latte. Eventually, I had to force myself out of it… I managed, but got stuck, in a different way, at Tatsuya Records a few steps away. I’ve always been exposed to Japanese music from an early age. From Chage & Aska’s “Say Yes” and Le Couple’s “Hidamari no Uta”, to Toshinobu Kubota’s “La La La Love Song” and Kyu Sakamoto’s (God bless his soul…) “Ue O Muite Aruko” or better known as “Sukiyaki” and not forgetting Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Christmas Eve”, I suppose it has always been an integral part of my library. With Nakamichi players and Audio Technica headphones, the superior sound quality delivered that afternoon at Tatsuya Records has perhaps, reinforced and reaffirmed a love of Japanese music that’ll probably never die. It’s no coincidence that some of my favorite bands, such as Greeeen and 80kidz, are from Japan.
After a while, I continue to scour the rest of Shibuya. Having visited many of the different districts, one does begin to notice the nuances and trivial difference in style and etiquette. One thing I love about Shibuya is the appearance of more vintage and thrift stores for guys. Just go up every other dodgy-looking flight of stairs and you’ll find thrift stores retailing previous years’ collections, and just maybe, you’ll snag some rare finds. Accessories like rings, bracelets, chains, belts and bags of every shape and size are available, but while some can be had for a bargain, there are those which appreciate well into the thousands of dollars. Talk about vintage! While there were definitely things to buy, it was mostly winter wear, but I’d love to come back during the summer to see what they have in store. The best part? At 32″, I’m still well within Japanese sizing.