As mentioned in a previous post, the best way to go from Harajuku to Shibuya is on foot, rather than by train. There are two decent options, heading down along the eastern side of the tracks along Cat Street, or heading down Yoyogi Park, on the other side.
I’ve mentioned how to get to Yoyogi Park in a previous entry, but to get out of it for Shibuya, you should find these stairs, which are near a man made pond, which you will spot if you don’t veer too much from the entrance.
Once you’re onto the stairs it’s just a matter of continuing straight, although as you can see there’s often festivals there, and there was one in the process of being set up or unwound (I wasn’t sure which, it was a Wednesday when i went past) you’ll pass by these two funny thingsmajigs, pictured on the left. Just going straight will eventually see you come to an intersection. Go past this and on the left side of the road as you begin to come down the hill, you will find the Tobacco and Salt Museum, which you may want to investigate if you don’t mind a coffin nail or two, or are wondering whether smoking is the right look for yourself.
The tobacco and salt combination no doubt strikes you as a little strange, with little in common beyond the unrecommended by dietician’s everywhere aspect – the law-breaking equvilent might be the Armed Robbery and Parking Infringements Museum. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should brush it aside as an eccentricity if you have the time. Especially interesting is the museum shop where you can buy t-shirts and retro tobacco ad posters, maybe of a hot geisha looking chick, for that special do-gooder in your life back home. Meanwhile, the non-smokers lungs colored cafe attached to it has, according to the website, over 15 varieties of galette (thin pancakes) on it’s menu if you are feeling peckish and in the mood for something novel. Either way, once you’ve past that you would head onto the intersection with the Parco Department Store, which is where I left the post traveling from Harajuku to Shibuya via Cat Street. There is a TGI Friday’s on your left and down the hill which offers the usual assortment of post midnight cocktails at 3pm.
Into Shibuya proper
Perhaps the best way into the main section of Shibuya you would make a right onto the small road at the Gap Clothing Chain Store, where across the road is a gourmet burger shop, JS Burgers, should the decision to forgo the comfort food haven of TGI Friday’s be weighing on you.
Moving on you will soon come to a t-intersection with a small cinema on the right side. You may as well turn down here as you’ve got winding steps, if for no other reason than heading down winding stairs is a little more charming than not heading down any other way.
When you get down to the bottom you would come to an intersection with a Body Shop. Whoa you might be thinking!! TGI’s, GAP, a hamburger shop and Body Shop, you would be thinking what’s the point of coming here when all these may well be within 20 minutes drive or even walk back home). But you will think it worthwhile when you come to the next intersection, Center Gai, home of the yankees and gyaru’s (gals).
Turning left onto Center Gai will bring you toward the Shibuya Station. There is not a hell of a lot to do on this street, just to see. At the end of it is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, Shibuya Scramble. You will not be on the iconic side of the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing however, and will need to head over to the other side to take your photos and see what Scarlett Johansson saw in Lost in Translation.
Once that’s done behind you will be plenty of people milling around waiting for someone. This is the most famous waiting spot near Hachiko, the dog who heartachingly waited in vein for years for Richard Gere to come back home from work in the 1920’s (if memory serves me quickly).
In my experience, it’s actually a pretty lame meeting place now given how crowded it is, but it’s an iconic one, which means it continues to be selected as a meeting place. Once you have taken a shot of the dog or had your photo taken there, or wait there in the off chance case a beautiful stranger misidentifies you as her new English teacher, you might want to head back across the road the road the Scarlett Johansson way but this time heading to the left.
You’ll soon be drawn toward the iconic 109 Building, a shopping mecca for young ladies. There naturally isn’t much here bar young ladies, although the young ladies who deserve the greatest attention are not the hordes of shoppers but the staff themselves who work incredibly long banker hours, and get paid comparatively dire amounts of money, all to be a minor celebrity, yet still look great. who despite being driven into the ground with really long, banker like hours but a most unbanker like pay, still do their store proud.
Whether you duck in their or not, you ought to head up the left of the 109 Building. Soon you will pass a Dubliners Irish Bar, which would be open from midday, and while you pay normal bar prices for drinks here, it does offer a small semi-outdoor drinking area which could go down well. and semi-watch the traffic move up and down the hill
Keep on walking however and you will soon be ready to turn into Love Hotel Hill. Assuming you didn’t come up here for the hill’s main purpose nor it’s second main purpose, some of Shibuya’s best known clubs are on the Hill, the thing to do is just walk around and check out some of the more gaudy and zany hotels, which you might decide as a cross between a few parts French, a few parts Italian, a few parts Miami, a few more parts French in addition to the local touch. I guess you could also do some people watching for the more mismatched couples performing the walk of shame or anticipation, although you would hardly be in peak time for that if you went along in the early afternoon (on the other hand any couple you did spot would no doubt be interesting). There are a few convenience stores around in which you can grab a traveling beer.
Once you’re all done there it’s probably time to move onto something else, so get back onto the road you turned off and head back down the hill and back to Shibuya station and back on the Yamanote Line.