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Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko

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A statue of the loyal dog named Hachiko stands eternally vigilant before Shibuya Crossing, an intersection which has become one of Tokyo’s most iconic sights. When the lights turn red, the zig-zagging crosswalks are buried under an avalanche of footfalls as thousands of people try to cross simultaneously. It’s hypnotic, especially when witnessed from above.

Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko

The first couple times we ran the gauntlet of Shibuya Crossing, it was for the thrill; we’d seen the intersection in movies and on TV, and it was fun to dive headlong into such a famous mess. Although the novelty soon wore off, we continued making frequent use of the intersection during our 91 days in Tokyo. The reason it’s so busy, is that it’s extremely practical. If you’re in Shibuya, crossing this crazy street at least once is almost unavoidable.

Between Shibuya Station and the intersection, sits a statue dedicated to Hachiko, who lived from 1925 to 1938. Every single morning, this friendly Akita would walk to the station with his master, a professor at Tokyo University. And every afternoon, he’d be there waiting for his master’s return. One day, though, the professor did not come back. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage while at school, and suddenly died. But Hachiko never lost faith. Every single afternoon, he went to the station to await the train which might finally bring his master home. And he did so until his own death, nine years later.

By demonstrating such unwavering loyalty, Hachiko became a celebrity. His stuffed remains can still be seen in Ueno Park’s National Museum of Science, and his story was the subject of a well-received film by Lasse Hallström, starring Richard Gere. Hachiko has also been credited with rescuing the Akita breed which, at the time, had been in danger of disappearing. Strong, intelligent and brave, Akitas have since become the country’s most popular dog. As a fun bit of trivia, the first two brought to America were owned by Helen Keller, who had visited Japan in 1937.

Today, Hachiko’s statue is one of the most popular meeting-spots in Tokyo, because everyone knows where it is. It’s fitting that Tokyo’s most famous spot to wait for people, is next to the dog who became famous for waiting.

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Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
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Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
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Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko
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June 19, 2014 at 3:22 pm Comments (2)

The Robot Restaurant

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It’s hard to imagine an experience more perfectly suited to Tokyo, and one less likely to exist anywhere else, than Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant. With a stage show that stretches the definition of terms like “elaborate” and “bizarre,” the restaurant has quickly become one of the city’s most popular venues.

Robot Restaurant Tokyo

We were dazzled by the Robot Restaurant from the moment we spotted it. The entire facade was illuminated in blinding LED lights, and towering lady robots with giant bouncing breasts were roving about the foyer. A band inspired by Daft Punk was rocking out behind the robots, and everything was flashing and loud and over-the-top. Sensory overload? Definitely. And we hadn’t even picked up our tickets yet. I suspected that the performance was going to be more like sensory assault.

The Robot Restaurant

Having arrived well in advance of the evening show, we passed the extra time in the restaurant’s upstairs lounge. You’ll want to do the same, because the lounge is unbelievable. It’s as though the world’s most outrageous interior designers were given crayons, glue sticks, glitter and mescalin, and told to go crazy. Everything is mirrored and shining. On every table, there’s a robot dinosaur. On the stage, a lady-band clad in metallic bikinis and angel wings is playing soft lounge music. The drinks are cheap and the vibe couldn’t be better. You and the people around you are in a place unlike anywhere any of you have ever been, and you’re all excited and giddy and talkative. It’s a bonding experience.

Now, however, it’s showtime. You and your new friends head into the underground theater, take your seats, and await the spectacle. Soon, the lights go out, the speakers switch on, and giant vehicles appear on either side of the narrow stage, ridden by ladies dressed as Amazonian war princesses from the year 3000. They’re pounding on drums, rotating around the stage, screaming and dancing to the music, and you’re just… confused. What the hell is happening? It’s hilarious, pointless, impressive and overwhelming in equal measure.

And that’s just Act One! By the end of the show, which stretches out across seven or eight acts, you’ll have perhaps seen boxing robots. Women riding huge mechanical cows. An alien-eating shark robot. Huge motorcycles and airplanes with pole-dancing lady passengers. A tank, I think. There was definitely a freedom-fighting panda. The shows change frequently, so you might see other things entirely, things which no sane human would ever be able to predict.

We had fun from the moment we entered the Robot Restaurant, and I’m not sure my brain has yet been able to process everything we saw. Almost as much as the show, we enjoyed watching the spectators sitting across from us. Without exception, they had their eyes wide open and huge smiles plastered across their faces. I’m sure it’s how we looked, too.

Link: Book Your Robot Restaurant Tickets Here To Save 15%

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Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
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Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
Robot Restaurant Tokyo
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June 13, 2014 at 9:38 am Comments (5)
Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko A statue of the loyal dog named Hachiko stands eternally vigilant before Shibuya Crossing, an intersection which has become one of Tokyo's most iconic sights. When the lights turn red, the zig-zagging crosswalks are buried under an avalanche of footfalls as thousands of people try to cross simultaneously. It's hypnotic, especially when witnessed from above.
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