Last week’s post was about umeboshi (うめぼし / 梅干), so this week I need to start with し (shi). Following a suggestion from none other than my Mum, I have decided to write about…
Shibuya (しぶや / 渋谷)
Shibuya was pretty much the first stop on my self-made tour when I visited Japan for the first time back in 2006, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Having seen the famous Shibuya scramble crossing in the film Lost in Translation, I knew I had to go there and see it for myself. Parts of the film were apparently shot from the Starbucks there, looking down onto the crossing, so I paid a visit to one of the busiest Starbucks shops in the world, just to look out of the window.
Perhaps this would seem odd to some people, but that view from Starbucks in Shibuya is one of my favourite views in Japan. I love looking down on everyone scurrying across the road, stop-start, stop-start. It’s quite beautiful.
Shibuya, or Shibuya-ku (“ku” means “ward”), is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo. “Shibuya” is also used to refer to the shopping area around Shibuya station. No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a trip to Shibuya, as long as you don’t mind crowds. I have never seen it quiet there, but it’s the hustle and bustle that I enjoy.
At night, the many shops and restaurants of Shibuya are lit up, with neon lights shining brightly, and video screens playing advertisements…
However, last year after the 11th March disaster and subsequent need to save power, the lights were off for a while in Shibuya:
It was quite spooky in a way, but if you had never seen it lit up I don’t think it would have seemed that odd.
Near Shibuya Station there are two statues of note, which are usually used as meeting places. The most popular is the statue of the faithful dog Hachiko:
The other, which I only discovered last year, is the Moyai statue, given to Shibuya by the people of Niijima Island in 1980:
Shibuya is a great place to wander around, soaking up the atmosphere of urban Tokyo. Day or night, the streets are alive and buzzing with energy. It’s really easy to walk from Shibuya to Harajuku, Tokyo’s shopping mecca, and along the way you pass Tower Records.
Tower Records in Shibuya is massive, and it’s a great place to discover new Japanese music. There are lots of displays and listening posts, and it’s easy to lose more than an hour in there.
Whether it’s shopping, food, or karaoke that you’re interested in, Shibuya has something for you. This is the Tokyo you have seen in movies; the Tokyo you have dreamed of.
Shibuya (しぶや) ends with や (ya), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “ya”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below! And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v