To literary experience how to be a needle in a haystack is to walk the famous scramble intersection of Shibuya, Tokyo. Yes, I am talking about that crossing you have seen on various movies which normally represent Tokyo or Japan (the best I have seen so far is the “blackout” moment in the defunct TV series “Flash Forward”). All vehicles in every direction will stop to allow a mass of pedestrians to flood the entire street. The large TV screens and signage on all corners makes walking the famous scramble intersection an affair to remember.
Every guidebook will tell you that your Shibuya adventure should start at the famous meeting place – Hachiko Statue (from Shibuya train station take the Hachiko Exit). Unlike other city in the world who often choose to commemorate war heroes, Japan has decided to built a monument of someone who has been nothing but loyal to his master- faithful dog Hachiko . Curios? The story is a tearjerker, just google it or better yet watch that Richard Gere movie and you will definetly admire the rare Akita breed dog.
Stupid that I am, I took the wrong exit and ended up lost somewhere on back alley of the station. Luckily, I met two very helpful Japanese school girls who not only did their best to explain the direction but actually accompany me to the Hachiko statue. We had a very cheerful and friendly conversation along the way with topics ranging from their school, English language, living in Tokyo and facebook account (yes, we are now connected). I consider getting lost as a blessing in disguise, after all it’s not so often you get a chance to talk to a Japanese teenager.
Shibuya in general cater for a certain generation desires (25 and below). Here you can buy everything you want in order to transform yourself into a J-POP wanna be of your dreams. The streets are flooded with fashionable young , there’s an on-going photo shoot, bands selling their own cd’s- trying to make it on the music seen and you might want to look your best when visiting the place. Take for example Shibuya 109, it’s a 9 storey youth oriented-shopping mecca and what makes it stand out from the rest of the shops are the Barbie look alike sales ladies whom to attract buyers uses a home made mega phone to amplify their cute voice. It’s easy to spot someone’s age when you are on this part of town, people who shops at Zara or GAP are those belonging to the “above” age bracket.
For a perfect vantage point for the intersection moments, order an Iced Coffee at Starbucks (Tsutaya) and sit at the 2nd Floor facing the street. Visit Parco Factory (6th Floor) for a short exhibition for what’s the latest on Japanese pop culture (i got a chance to see the Blythe Doll 10th anniversary exhibition). Make sure to check the unusual Tobacco and Salt Museum (entrance fee for 100 Yen only), it showcase a pre-modern method of salt harvesting and get glimpse on the history of on another Japanese obsession – smoking.