So today I’m in another of Tokyo’s famed districts- Shibuya. Particularly famous for it’s ‘Scramble Crossing’, the world’s most photographed junction. Ironic really because I realised when putting these photos together that I FORGOT TO ACTUALLY TAKE A PHOTO OF IT! Now don’t get me wrong, I took a LOT of video of it- on my video camera, my Sony phone, my iPhone, forwards, backwards, slow motion, sped up… I actually lost count of the amount of times I crossed said crossing!
So other than a big pelican crossing, what else is there to do in Shibuya? Well lots that I wanted to see that you guys will probably have no interest in whatsoever! Wait, I didn’t mean that, please carry on reading, it’ll be interesting, I swear.
So high up on my list was literally just visiting a shop. No ordinary shop, however. A shop that is probably the biggest music shop I’ve ever been to- Tower Records. While there are a few of these shops in various countries around the world, this is probably the most famous, with it’s huge iconic yellow supports adorned with the words “NO MUSIC, NO LIFE” (that’s a motto to live by for sure).
To explain this store I’ll tell you a quick story. One of my favourite shops EVER was an absolutely huge Virgin Megastore in Downtown Disney Orlando (it’s now a bowling alley). My parents could pretty much leave me in there for an hour and come back later to find me only NEARLY finished! I got exactly the same feeling in this shop. Pretty much everything you’d ever want is here from CDs to Blu-Rays to games to books over about 10 floors. Heaven. Plus there’s a really nice Starbucks on the second floor with a huge window and bar overlooking the crossing which I absolutely intend to revisit for a Sakura frappaccino over the next couple of weeks.
Another particularly famous shop is Shibuya 109. A multi story fashion mall selling stuff I could never afford! Regardless of this it was a really interesting place to visit, seeing all the fashionable Tokyo-ites spending their hard earned wages. Finally, before I headed on one of the day’s missions, I walked round the corner to check out the dual site music venue- Tsutaya O-East and West. On Sunday and Monday I have 2 gigs at each of these venues so I just wanted to make sure they were easy to find on the day!
So next, it was on to a bit of a pilgrimage. I mentioned yesterday that I’m a bit of a fan of the J-Rock 4-piece- SCANDAL. They’ve sporadically had a shop in Shibuya where you can buy their albums and merch. It’s been open as ‘Kitty Store’ (Kitty is their online merch store), simply ‘Scandal store’, and this time it’s opened as ‘Feedback’. The shop had only opened the day before just in time for their new album which came out today. They were selling brand new merch that wasn’t even on the website yet and had set up a photo spot of a yellow backdrop and bench like the album cover you can see above. Clearly worth a trip if you’re a fan.
Now I had my sights set on a T-shirt as I’d missed out on getting one at the London gig I went to as they were extortionate. But what I didn’t know about was that they also had a special Gachapon lucky dip going on! For 500¥ (around 3 pounds) you got a gacha from the machine and inside was a coloured ball. Depending on the colour you won a prize from 1 of 4 tiers. Now this could be anything from stickers and badges to t-shirts and crockery sets! Worth the risk I thought. So I put my 500¥ in… TIER 2! Hmm, well at least I didn’t win a badge… let’s see… Now this may not mean anything to anyone who isn’t remotely interested in Japanese music, but one of the regular merch items at shows is… a towel. Kinda like a bar towel really. They’re expensive (about 15 pounds) but they’re awesome. ESPECIALLY Scandal towels. The reason for this is that they have a song called ‘Doll’ that, when played live, everyone in the audience with a towel helicopters them above their head during the chorus. When I saw them in London, I was devastated I couldn’t join in. Seriously. BUT NEXT TIME I’LL BE HELICOPTERING WITH THEM ALL! Because there on the 2nd shelf sat a lone Scandal Hello World tour towel! Just yes. DEFINITELY worth the trip.
Ok, thank you for indulging my nerdiness there, let’s go on to food, shall we?
OKONOMIYAKI. The words bring joy to my heart. A big fat Japanese omelette style dish that’s cooked right at your table on a hot plate. I’d had it before in London and it was amazing. I had one in Shibuya and… come on, do I really need to clarify that it was better? I could try and describe in detail exactly what goes in to okonomiyaki but I couldn’t possibly do it justice. Suffice it to say there was lots of bacon which could only elevate such a glorious dish. This was the best meal I’ve had so far, understandably, and it’ll probably take ANOTHER okonomiyaki to beat it (Osaka is famed for it’s okonomiyaki so I’m expecting to have an AMAZING one there).
And that was nearly my day complete, apart from paying a quick visit to Hachiko (ever seen the Richard Gere movie- Hachi? Me neither, but this is a statue of the very famous dog that story was based on). So I headed towards the station entrance, when I passed a shop with the amusing title- BOOK-OFF! A second hand store selling books (obviously), CDs, DVDs, games, you name it. “Worth a pop in” I thought. How right I was.
Now this next bit involves me fanboying over J and K-Pop so you may want to sign off from here! Still with me? Ok, just don’t judge me alright! So there are a few CDs I’m planning on grabbing this trip, and they had most of them for around 1000¥ less than all other music shops. But they also had a huge section of CDs 500¥ or less. First I had a look for the も section to see if they had any Momoiro Clover Z. There I found their 2nd album (special 2 disc edition, no less) for 500¥ instead of 3500¥! I grab that and keep looking. I then found a section of abnormally large CD boxes… Now the one thing that the west has wrong when it comes to CDs is the packaging. Even special edition albums that come in a slightly grander box are all a bit dull. Now K-Pop on the other hand has HUGE boxes with massive photo-books and posters and loads more. So this stumbled upon section of oversized CD boxes was, you guessed it, full of K-Pop albums!
Again, I apologise if this bores anyone with no interest in these sort of subjects, but you should all be enjoying hearing a story about how your favourite Dan got the bargains of the century!
HyunA- Bubble Pop (the song that got me hooked on K-Pop)… 500¥
T-ara’s first album (with the song on it that got REG hooked!)… 500¥
2NE1′s 2nd mini album… 200¥
and possibly the highlight, AKB48′s second album special edition box set with DVD, photobook and a photocard for 280¥!!!
I googled it all and less than 12 pound of CDs should have been worth about 80!
Right, that’s enough of that. I’ll leave you with a picture of my haul from the day. Tomorrow is TOKYO DISNEY SEA!!! ARGH!!! SO EXCITED!!!