You know you're in Japan when...
Nothing quite screams Hollywood-does-Japan like Shibuya. Commuters clambering across Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing underneath the two larger-than-life HD screens (all very Lost In Translation) are a sure sign that yes, you are definitely in Tokyo now.
It’s pop-culture credentials don’t just cease there, Shibuya is the pulsating core of some of Japan’s most internationally renowned districts. Teenagers, couples and families can be spotted picnicking in the shade of nearby Yoyogi Park. Students decked out in the latest fashion trend file out of adjacent Harajuku. The older (and richer) make a quick getaway to the posh malls of Omotesando Avenue and healing calm of Meiji-jingu.
Park yourself outside the Hachiko Exit (named after the famously loyal Shiba-Inu that always met his owner at the station after work) on a Friday or Saturday night and you’re sure to witness the sheer power of Japan’s vibrant youth culture.
If that sounds like your jam, the most youthful of Tokyo’s wards, certainly has a nightlife to write home (or just y’know, a Twitter status) about. The giant disco ball in the centre of Womb’s main dance floor coupled with the huge, multi-floored VISION are only two reasons why you could end up having your best night out evaaaa in Shibuya. If you end up finding love, there’s always Love Hotel Hill for all your lovin’ needs.
As vigorous as Shibuya can be, there is an array of more laid-back food, sports and art culture well suited for any age or persuasion. Baseball and rugby enthusiasts will be overjoyed by the offerings from the Meiji Jingu and Chichibuomiya Rugby Stadiums. Cultural hotspots such as the Bunkamura (a museum with outstanding art exhibitions), the New National Theatre Tokyo (or NNTT) or Konno Hachimangu Shrine (once home to the illustrious Shibuya family) will broaden the scope of your itinerary.
Likewise, foodies will be able to gorge themselves on some of the most varied and delicious cuisine in Japan. For vegans, Nagi Shokudo combines seriously delicious food with fantastic magazines and reading material in English or Japanese. For film freaks, make a pilgrimage to Gonpachi, the restaurant from Kill Bill. As the base of the hip and trendy, there are also coffee shops galore including the famous Starbucks whose second floor looks out over the world’s busiest crossing.
One thing’s for sure: you could stay in Shibuya for your entire stay and never, ever get bored.