Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Shibuya: Meet at Hachiko and people watch

Before going to work Tuesday I decided to get on the train and head for Shibuya. How to describe Shibuya? It's an unbelievably crowded and bustling area of Tokyo that's quite popular with the younger Tokyoites who use it as a meeting place. In a web site called Tokyo Essentials, they describe it as:

" Vibrant, lively, fun, faddish, crowded, cramped, and busy, and the streetwise love it! Shibuya is another shopping and entertainment district situated in the west of Tokyo. . .Alongside its huge department stores it's also famous for the studios of NHK, the Olympic gymnasium, "Love Hotel Hill" and "Hachiko" - the tear-jerking statue of a dog." (Note: The statue is a memorial to a loving and faithful dog who met his master at the train station every evening. When the master died suddenly at work, the dog continued to look for him at the station each evening for nine years, until his own death. For more about Hachiko, go here or here.)

Another description is: "Shibuya, where youth fashion is born."

I browsed through the shops in the train station, especially the one that's a wonderland of culinary delights. It's massive not only in size, but also in the variety of foods it has on display. Every conceivable delicacy is there to taunt you as you stroll by the hundreds of mini-shops and counters. I watched a young woman inside a glass-enclosed bakery area as she meticulously aligned every succulent whole strawberry atop a gorgeous torte and then bathed it in a glistening coat of glaze. It reminded me of the exquisite displays I had seen in Paris.

Presentation is paramount in Japan, and these food shops have refined it to the utmost art form.

I spent a couple of hours just wandering around inside the train station, taking in as many of the shops as I could. I wanted to get out to explore more of Shibuya, but the heat was so intense that I decided to attempt it another time. I had been to Shibya once before when I needed to find a CitiBank to cash my paycheck and vowed to go back. It's a place where you could do nothing but people watch and have memories to last you a lifetime!

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