Sunday, November 4, 2007

Walking in Shibuya: August 2007!

The easiest way to get to Shibuya once you're in Tokyo is to take the Yamanote Line. The Yamanote Line is a large circular train line that runs all the way around Tokyo, stopping in all the city wards along its length. I usually hop it out of Shinjuku when I'm on a Tokyo junket.

Platform 14, the Shinjuku Station. I took this photo under heatwave conditions in August, 2007. Notice the cool people in slacks and jeans. I don't know how people can dress that way without melting. I was in a t-shirt and shorts and I was oozing away like a misplaced Frosty the Snowman.

Once you're in Shibuya, go out the Hachiko exit and you're near the 109 shopping center, or Ichi Maru Kyu, or Marukyu for short. This is the spiritual center of the gyaru style. I've never been inside, but I read recently that during the New Year's sales earlier this year, the lines to get in were amazingly long. That I would've loved to have seen.

And here's the famous Shibuya scramble:

Well, approaching it. If you're a fan of Japanese comics or manga, no doubt you've seen the Shibuya scramble as a location in various stories. Along with the 109 building, it's an icon of modern pop cultural Japan.

When the lights change, it swarms with people. I once watched a live security video camera feed of this intersection. A river of people overflowing its banks, and the bravest man alive weaving through on a bicycle.

George Clooney looms over the shoppers, offering 2 hours or so of prime Hollywood slickery. To his right, the largest Starbucks I've ever seen. It's another place I've never entered. In this next shot, you can see some sensible people in shorts:

Really, I envy all the people who didn't wilt in the steambath Tokyo became that week. I had to take 3 showers a day- one in the morning, one after shopping, one before going to bed. My shorts had salty marks below the belt loops showing the high tide of my backsweat from every stint outside in the heat.

I've never been in this department store, either, but if you walked by you were briefly soothed by a blast of frosty air conditioned air:

And then I saw this person:

This comical dog was part of a parade of animals handing out fans with advertising printed on them. I don't think I got one from the dog, but I did take a couple from other street hawkers. Now I've been complaining about the heat; imagine how these people felt in their funny animal costumes. I hope they only had to do this one day at the most, and that the costumes were thoroughly dry cleaned and deodorized afterwards.

If you survived your shopping trip, you could don your swimsuit and hit the beach with your gorgeous friends:

Fun in the sun. Fun in the concrete and neon wonderland we call Tokyo.

2 comments:

Angel Bitch said...

I need to visit Japan I get all that;)

Joel Bryan said...

Hey hey! I'm happy you started a blog. Thanks for the commment... and yeah, I think you'd enjoy Japan! Just don't come in August. It's way too hot. Spring and fall are the best.