I really had only one reason to go to Shibuya. The famous Shibuya crossing. It’s basically a huge intersection right outside of Shibuya station, and tons of people cross it everyday. It has been featured in commercials, films, animes, and even listed as a tourist spot in all the travel sites and TIME magazine has it in their top 10 things to do in Tokyo. That’s a lot of credentials for a freakin’ intersection.
I got to Shibuya station, and I was looking for the best exit. It took me a good 30 minutes to find the right exit. In the end, I resorted to looking up which exit is best on the internet. As I neared the recommended exit, I came across this scenery from the station window.
This is the famous Shibuya crossing? Looks kinda small…
Wow, um, cool, I guess.
At the time, I was elated to have found the intersection, and I just stood inside the station, watching the crossing happen at least two times. I couldn’t believe that I was in Japan, in Shibuya, looking at the famous crossing that I used to be so curious about. After 5 minutes or so, the elation wore off and I realised I was just looking at a goddamn intersection.
Thankfully, I knew Shibuya wasn’t just about the crossing; it’s a huge shopping district, so I knew I could get a full day out of the area.
So I got out of the station, and proceeded to experience the crossing myself.
Seems the station is a popular meet-up spot for teenagers. The station exit was more crowded than the crossing.
A picture I took while waiting for the lights to cross
So I crossed. I remember feeling very excited at the time, despite a little tinge of disappointment darkening the corners a bit. When I was in the moment, when I was walking that crossing, my thoughts progressed as follows: “I’m doing it! I no longer have to wonder what it feels like, because this is what it feels like! Wow, it doesn’t feel all that special”.
Now that I look back on it now, around 2 months later, the feeling of disappointment is even stronger. Now, I’m sitting here, thinking, “What the hell was I so excited about?”. Nothing really happened. I crossed an intersection, an activity I do on the daily back at home.
The crossing wasn’t all that crowded. I thought maybe I would bump into a guy, and my books would fall onto the ground (why would I be holding books, I do not know), and we’d both bow to each other to apologize, and our hands would touch each other’s as we both tried to grab my books, then we would look sheepishly into each other’s eyes and smile out of embarrassment, and we would both hurriedly try to get out of the intersection before the lights turned red and run to the same corner, then we would be married in a year’s time. But none of that happened. I just crossed an intersection. But it was in Shibuya, damn it.
Anyway, at the time, that crossing was a magical little place. I crossed it at least 3 more times that day, and I even came back on another day before I had to leave to Osaka to go shopping, and cross it again. The shopping was just an excuse, I really just wanted to cross it one last time.
Walking across an intersection is hard work. I felt pangs of hunger so I grabbed some McD’s.
Tiny teriyaki burger, small cup of melon Fanta, and American sized fries (the only American sized thing they had).
And then I went shopping. I had made a pact to myself before I set out on this 30 day trip, to be a minimalist. Don’t buy useless souvenirs, only buy small gifts for friends and family, don’t buy clothes, don’t search for happiness in material things, because it hasn’t worked until now, so why would it work now?
While I was in Japan, I kicked myself for having made this decision. There were so many cute and pretty things that I wanted to buy, but I couldn’t because I had brought a tiny carry-on. Of course, I could have bought another luggage bag and stuffed it with purchases, but that would have made me feel like I had some sort of a mental problem.
However, I have come back to the conclusion that my decision really was a smart one; so many times, I have bought stuff from my travels and never looked at them again. They just gather dust on my desk and I put it away because it just feels like clutter. Seeing a miniature Eiffel tower in my room doesn’t bring me back to my days in Paris, it just looks silly and out of place in my cold room in Toronto. I guess I’m not as sentimental as I like to think I am.
Anyways, I took some pictures of some stuff I came across while shopping in Shibuya.
Sticker-heaven section at Loft
If you’re an iPhone user, you’re in luck. There is a phone case for whatever fetish you have. If you’re an Android phone user, your selection of cute phone cases is reduced dramatically.
Futchiko-san glass toppers on display. You pick a box, and inside is a random Futchiko-san doing one of her adorable and quirky poses. The official name of the charming lady is Futchiko-san, and it’s not some creepy name I made for her myself.
I got one. Yes, I’m a grown-ass woman, but come on.
Muji and Uniqlo. Classic. Muji was just as expensive as it is in Toronto, but the store had much wider selection of goods, and it made me realise how sad the store in Toronto is. Yes, we only have one Muji store in all of Toronto. Uniqlo had similar selection as the stores in Toronto, but it had a lot sweeter sales.
I shopped around at a lot of stores, but felt bad taking pictures when I wasn’t buying anything.
Eventually, I wandered off to the basement floor of a large department store, because I could look at food for 3 hours as opposed to anything else. All department stores in Asia always have a whole floor dedicated to food, and it’s always in the basement.
You can watch a live demo of how the food on display is made
Omg, just look at that Japanese precision. They look so perfect, that they look fake.
Meticulously made seafood crackers and whole dried shrimps. Expensive snacks.
Some of the stuff are very affordable, and looks a beauty. How much fun would it be to eat those squares of sushi? 20 squares of different flavors in one box! For less than $10!
Raw shrimp as big as my hand
Fruits in Japan are expensive. Fruits in Japanese department stores are extra expensive. $5 for half a pineapple.
After an exhausting walk around Shibuya and going through an emotional rollercoaster of desires, I’m back at the crossing. Again, it’s not as crowded as I’d like it to be, but what can I do.
Shibuya is a great place for some casual shopping. Not as glitzy and intimidating as Ginza or Omotesando (Harajuku), with all those luxury brands everywhere that make me feel like the peasant that I am. It’s got a great energy both day and night. Lots of music and videos being played on huge screens on the streets, and sometimes, you can’t even locate the source of the catchy k-pop song they have on full blast. But you enjoy it all anyway.
And also, you might as well just walk the crossing while you’re there, in case anyone ever asks if you did it, and then you could be like, yup, crossed it 4 times. No one will ever ask you, but it’s good to have it in your back pocket, just in case the day ever comes (it won’t).