Hungover from all the high quality anime we injected into our bloodstreams previously in Akihabara, we spent the third day (10th August 2016) in the normie and cool ward of Shibuya – known for its high fashion scene. It was also the day where I met up with my buddy Otamega who I’ve known on the interwebs for a long time and was cool enough to give us a mini tour around Shibuya!
Shibuya is famous for its iconic scramble crossing; a giant crossing intersection impossible to miss once you step out of the Shibuya station Hachiko exit. Frolicking on the scramble crossing was indisputably one of the many things on my bucket list coming here and experiencing the mass of people congregating in the scramble walking in every possible direction like packets of data in a mesh network was everything I’d expected. I can’t imagine how it would feel like to drive through the crossing and have a zombie-like wave of people surround your car.
It was also really amazing to have seen the Hachiko statue in person! I actually didn’t know about the full history before coming here but everything clicked into place once I remembered that one episode of Futurama which pulled my 10 year old heartstrings ;_;
While Love Live! Sunshine!! was the great plague occupying nearly every inch of surface area on the buildings in Akihabara, it was Granblue Fantasy subjugating Shibuya as the entire vicinity was infected by Granblue branding; a marketing campaign at such a needlessly giant scale I have never seen ever before. Giant posters and ad boards pasted on every prominent advertising space, tannoy speakers installed on the main streets blaring out soundtracks from the mobile game (one street played the boss soundtrack!), it was next to impossible to turn a blind eye. There was even a space on one street where it showcased Granblue Fantasy figures as if they were Rolex watches! I already had beginner’s experience with the game before coming to Japan when it launched an official English version of the game (I guess you can say that the marketing worked as I’m still a slave to the game in 2017…) but looking back at the photographs now I’d probably would have appreciated it more now than I did at the time.
We mostly explored the heart of Shibuya throughout the bulk of the day before wandering around the northern parts at Harajuku Station and Takeshita Street as the sun sets. The amount of younguns’ in strange-looking high fashion clothing skyrocketed the further we walked into Harajuku which made me a little self conscious as I was wearing a geeky checkered buttoned shirt.
A fun drinking game before we dive into the photos; take a drink every time you notice Granblue Fantasy in the photos.
We set off for Shibuya in the early hours of 10am!
A bike stop sign on the ground!
Still not over my obsession for Japan’s vending machines.
We took the Shinjuku line from Kikukawa to Sumiyoshi transferring to the Hanzomon line which took us directly to Shibuya in a mere 40 minutes. It may sound long but mentally those 40 minutes flew by so quickly.
Got a bit lost trying to figure out how to exit Shibuya Station and saw some Dragon Quest advertisements!
Seems like there was a museum on display.
And we’re out! Some construction happening around the station. Notice the Grandcypher on top of those buildings.
Took a photosphere using the Google Camera app.
Spotted a filthy Nico fan.
Secret Life of Pets is my favourite anime.
Hopped over the crossing and into the Starbucks under the iconic Tsutaya building to get some sweet Macha frappuccino!
A look through the windows inside Starbucks, all the window seats were taken ;_;
Nogizaka46 display at Tsutaya. There was some signing event on the day because tonnes of people were lined up for something.
Ah the legendary Nekomimi Headphones!
A bunch of vintage anime DVDs and VHS tapes available to rent as we traversed up the floors at Tsutaya.
I sees a Chaika.
K-ON! and Garden of Sinners.
They were thoughtful to round up all the KyoAni anime to make a KyoAni section.
Interesting to note these are custom cases where you push the inner case out of the outer wrap-around cover rather than the traditional Amaray cases.
Sword Art Online CDs XD
Everything was expensive at 109 MEN’S. They did have this lifesize Deadpool cardboard cutout though.
I wanted this shirt until I saw the price tag…
The Dark Souls of fashion.
You can never have enough Shibuya Crossing photos.
Tokyo Department Store with more Granblue Fantasy ads stuck on.
We explored around the smaller streets of Shibuya wedged in between all the skyscraping buildings while basking in the Granblue Fantasy battle music blasting through the public speakers.
Where in the world is Lyria?
Not even in Japan can they get away from tacky tourist hats.
Granblue Fantasy ads above Baskin Robbins.
Most if not all of the Baskin Robbin flavours they had on offer and many of which seemingly Japan-exclusive.
Gave the exclusive flavours a go which were in-relation to the Rio 2016 olympics.
The vanila-looking one is called ‘Passion for Gold’, the orange and green one called ‘Wild Amazon’ and the tropical-looking one called ‘Trio De Janeiro GO! GO!’.
Spot the Granblue Fantasy ad in this photo.
Spot the Granblue Fantasy ad in this photo.
Spot the Granblue Fantasy ad in this photo.
Came across this neat Granblue Fantasy figure display presented as if they were luxury watches!
The Shibuya Don Quijote store!
I spies Squid Sisters Amiibos!
Found this lavish Chitoge Kirisaki cosplay.
Really wanted to buy this Splattershot at Don Quijote but it was too big for my suitcase…
I thought Don Quihote were selling real guns until I realise they were airsoft.
Green Tea KitKat! The supermarket close to our apartment sold them for a bit cheaper.
The legendary Japanese flip phone! The phone shops here still carry a wide range including a bunch with Android baked in!
The phones were live units which you can play around on!
Bunch of Japanese sock souvenirs.
Abema TV, an online TV service which had just recently launched at the time were holding some event being live streamed onto their channel.
Expensive looking cameras.
View looking up the iconic Shibuya 109 building!
We were thinking of looking inside until we realised nearly everyone inside were woman and felt awkwardly out of place and left…
What is this edgy looking store…
I could hear the loud metal clacking noises from the pachinko parlor when I took this pic.
Spot the Granblue Fantasy poster in this photo.
A couple more shots of the packed streets of Shibuya.
Shots of people walking on the crossing is something I can never get tired of.
Truck strolling around advertising this up and coming Japanese singer I haven’t heard of.
At Uobei Sushi! A special sushi parlor in Shibuya where you can order from the tablet display by your seat and the sushi comes whizzing over through the conveyer belt set up all over the restaurant.
I wasn’t expecting hamburger sushis to be the greatest thing ever.
Some specialty sushis because I love to live big.
Dozens of sushi pieces later…
Had a nice filling of sushi for less than a tenner (£10)!
This was around the time we met up with Otamega and he took us around the ~seedy~ parts of Shibuya; namely Hyakkendana in the Dogenzaka area.
Nearby Uobei Sushi was this stand-out lit sign that you couldn’t miss for Shibuya Strawberry Jam, which was, well… you connect the dots.
It was around 3pm when we were there and while it was rather quiet there was this strange yet tense atmosphere walking around the area during daytime, I can imagine how it would’ve felt like past the watershed.
Disclaimer: We never enter or tried out these places, we only walked explored around the vicinity (even if we did it would’ve been a huge blow to our budget (no pun intended) ;_;).
Plastered on every electric polls down these streets were signs to the nearest love hotels.
Random flag banner advertising a family-friendly back massager.
A sex shop we passed by with these funky mannequins at the entrance.
Spot the love hotel and the Granblue Fantasy billboard in this photo.
We later passed by the Tokyo Hentai Club; a foreigner friendly escort service which I almost walked into without realising. #oopsies
Good boys and girls should stay clear away from this area!
A small shrine we passed lodged in between the sea of love hotels.
The Hyakkendana gate to let you know you are entering or exiting Hyakkendana.
After that stroll through in Hyakkendana it was back onto the main streets!
Spot the Granbl-… okay I’ll stop.
My first encounter with a giant MUJI store in Japan!!
Surprised to see Rakuten in real life!
Shh… don’t wake these Tsum Tsums up in the Shibuya Disney Store.
An anime character using what I assume to be Live2D reporting the news and the weather on the giant Sony display at Shibuya MODI!
Looking at this gave me flashbacks of the giant screen displays in London’s Picadilly Circus for some reason.
The buildings is made of Godzilla.
Splatoon soundtrack CDs at Shibuya’s Tower Records store!
Walküre CDs from Macross Delta!
View of Shibuya’s streets from the umpteenth floor at Tower Records.
Kewpie (makers of the legendary mayonnaise) building in the distance as we were walking up to Harajuku!
On our way to Harajuku we passed by Kiddy Land! Your one-stop shop for everything ku-wah-ee and plushie.
Marking my historical visit into the land of Kiddy Land.
It was here when I gave into the Sanrio gods and picked up a Sumikko Gurashi Penguin plush toy because it was too adorable.
Ah the iconic Rilakkuma soft plushies.
Giant Rilakkuma soft plush!
Saw the smallest and cutest bus passing by once we exited Kiddy Land!
The Laforet Harajuku, a department store in Harajuku that also happened to have hosted Justin Bieber’s live performance that evening we were there.
Visited the Tokyu Plaza in Harajuku which had this trippy looking mirror architecture at the front entrance!
Look at all the tiny people.
Shot of the buildings beyond Shibuya.
The beer garden atop of Tokyu Plaza! Was such a chill area. We didn’t get any beer sadly…
Suddenly night fell and Harajuku instantly changed character with the flick of the neon switch.
I can remember hearing the screams coming from this place. I think Justin Bieber took off his shirt or something.
Passed by ABC-MART, your one-stop place for discounted shoes but were still expensive!
We then slowly made our way to Takeshita Street while taking in the colourful fashion scene in our surroundings.
Grabbed some drinks on the way as we were getting thirsty. Pic not related.
Seeing anime mascot illustration to perfectly normal establishments was my favourite thing in Japan.
The iconic Takeshita Street gate entrance!
Visited Angel’s Heart in Takeshita Street to try my first crepe in Japan!
Decided to go for the Matcha Chocolate crepe paving way my matcha agenda during this trip.
It was too delicious!
Totally didn’t expect to see a Claire’s store!
After walking round Takeshita Street and chilling in McDonalds for awhile it was already around 10pm so we decided to call it a day. We had to wake up early in the morning the next day to catch the early train to Mitaka to visit the legendary Studio Ghibli Museum!
Noticed that Harajuku Station had the shojo manga styled Password advert campaign on display with the sequential panels spanning across the length of the station!
Walking back to our Airbnb.
Compared the bustling Shibuya it was rather relaxing to return to the quiet ward of Sumida.
We made a quick trip into 7eleven nearby to pick up some food and drink and decided to try out Hyouketsu; which what I can sum up with this lemon flavoured edition I got as ‘alcoholic lemonade’.
Some of the things I picked up over the day (was co-erced to pick up these funky nail clippers for family).
This Penguin Sumikko Gurashi plush makes for a great smartphone holder!
Stay tuned for the next post as on Day 4 we visit the Studio Ghibli Museum!