Day 1: Shibuya and Shinjuku

On this leg of the journey, our contestants must 
– open onigiri, a snack of rice with something in the middle and do it properly without food falling apart
– Use a Passmo card
– Exchange their Japan Rail pass so they can fly around Japan
– Cross at Shibuya without dying!
– Get lost in Shinjuku!
– Find rare Japanese-only Pet Shop Boys albums!
– Try and find video game items for friends who have made requests
– Enjoy traveling on the Yamanote line in rush hour

They will return back to The Westin Tokyo for their next clue.

I have to admit, we did the Onigiri bit yesterday.  I can follow directions, Scott had some difficulty despite being able to read the language. HEHEH.

We spent the day in Shibuya and Shinjuku getting up at about 6:30am – You heard that right.  I had actually never been more than happy to get up for breakfast and take our time getting going.

Shibuya is famous for it’s crossing and Hachiko.  Story goes that when his master passed away, he would wait outside Shibuya station for his owner to return. A sad story and a fitting memorial at the station.

Shibuya’s crossing is interesting.  When we got there about 8am, I wondered what all the fuss was about.  We stopped in at the Starbucks at the crossing and watched for a bit of time.  I will say, it is amazing the number of people that walk through that place as the day goes on.  Stopping for lunch at the Tokyu Hands Foodhall, I can attest that Shinjuku is a very busy place.

While in Shibuya we stopped at Tower Records.  This place is heaven on Earth, and reminds me of the HMV at 333 Yonge St in Toronto in the 90s. CDs are still big here in Japan, and Japan is apparently a country full of audiophiles.  I will explain later.  I still believe in the CD as being a high quality source for sound versus M4As and MP3s.  Being a music producer myself, it’s undeniable the quality you get from a CD.  So I was very much in my happy spot, picking up some Towa Tei, Kylie, Pet Shop Boys, LFO and 808 State CDs that are Japanese-only special editions.

We headed over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building where there is an observation deck, where we could see Tokyo as it sprawls out, with an explanation of different places we could see from a guide.

It’s amazing the balances between loud and busy, and then quiet and busy.  Walking near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices, it was quiet other than the cicadas buzzing.  The metro trains, quiet. Shibuya – loud. LOL

We made our way over to Shinjuku which is the busiest transit hub in the world.  You can see that very clearly, and it’s currently undergoing renovations too, to make it even more efficient.

When you’re in Japan, you’ll notice there is an order to things when people are in lines, making their way to wherever they are going.

  • Walk forward on the left, oncoming right
  • Stand on a moving walk way on the left, walk on the right
  • Stand on the left of an escalator, walk on the right

It makes sense and I like it.

We picked up our JR passes which start tomorrow, which means we are completely covered on the Yamanote line, all Shinkansen and JR-run local lines.  Such a great deal.

We stopped at the Tonkatsu Wako in Mylord which is a big department store at Shinjuku.  Three full floors of restaurants which are all tied to the department store.  The Pork Tonkatsu was amazing.  The panko crust to die for.

And then there was the dessert craziness we saw on 7F.  I didn’t have any but I put on 10lbs just looking at it!

We made our way to Bicqlo (combined Bic Camera and Uniqlo store) and the Yodobashi superstore.

Bicqlo has a crazy sale on where, not only do you get duty free shopping as a foreigner, saving the 8% consumption tax, but if you pay with a Visa card, you get 6% off on top of that.  So, say a PS Vita which runs $200 in Canada, can be had for about $175.  And you have your choice in colours here.  Crazy!

But even crazier is the Yodobashi superstore.  Three locations all in a short walk from each other.  One with nine stories of mobile phones, another with four stories of iPhone accessories, games, and Gauchupon.  Another which is full of cameras and electronics of about seven floors.

I think the one thing that stood out for me, was that at Yodobashi and Bic (we visited a location in Shibuya beyond the Bicqlo) both had a floor almost fully dedicated to headphones.  Also the high-end audiophile equipment in these stores was nothing short of amazing.

The Japanese do like their electronics.  It’s almost too overwhelming, especially if you want to find something to take back home.

I ended up picking up a few games for friends and myself, and an Amibo.  I’m not really collecting them, but for few that I do like, I am.

After finishing at Yodobashi, we headed back to the hotel where Scott crashed on the bed for a nap while I went up to the lounge for a snack.

Time to head to bed shortly.

Leave a Reply