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Our Favorite Shibuya Sights

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We spent many entertaining evenings in Shibuya, which has become one of the most exciting areas in Tokyo. There are so many bars, shops and things to do here, that it would be hopeless to attempt listing them all. But here were a few of our personal favorites.

Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street

Perhaps the best way to approach Shibuya is along Cat Street, by way of Omotesando. This curvy lane follows the old path of the Shibuya River, and brings you past loads of cool designer stores, vintage clothing shops, and cozy cafes. It’s is one of the most popular areas among the young and hip of Tokyo, and serves as a relatively laid-back introduction to the craziness you’re about to experience in Shibuya. [Location]

Shibuya Goat Cafe
Sakuragaoka – Goat Cafe

Found on the quieter southern side of the tracks, Sakuragaoka has won fame not for its food or drinks, but for its doormen. In a cage outside the cafe are two braying goats. Sweet-tempered Sakura is white, while boisterous Chocolat has a brown coat. You can pet Sakura without fear, but take care if attempting to touch Chocolat; that feisty beast will head-bash anyone who gets too close. The goats are fun, but our favorite part of this cafe was its familiar atmosphere and excellent food. [Location]

Photo Boxes

Yes, fine, the most important thing is inner beauty. Blah blah, now shut up and get out of the way, so I can get inside this photo box and show you what real beauty looks like.

You can find Fashion Photo Booths all over Tokyo, but for some reason it took a trip to Shibuya before we felt brave (or drunk) enough to step inside one. Want freakishly huge eyes like a Disney character? Want smoother, lighter skin like the finest porcelain? Want your wrinkles to vanish along with the last of your self-regard? Then these photo booths are for you. Results can range from terrifying to hilarious. But probably not beautiful.

Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei Automated Sushi

Sit down in front of a terminal at Uobei, and scroll through the options. Tuna nigiri, that sounds good. Salmon with mayo? Yes please. And a tempura shrimp roll for only ¥108? That’s crazy, I’ll take it. Selections made, you press “go.” A couple minutes later, a tray with three plates zips out along a magnetic belt, stationing itself in front of you. You grab the plates, press a button and zip, the tray flies off, back in the opposite direction.

Ostensibly prepared by humans, the sushi at Uobei is delicious and fun, but will make connoisseurs turn up their nose. One offering, for example, is cheeseburger sushi. Yes, we ordered it. Yes, we loved it. Though Uobei forces you to miss out on the human engagement which makes experiencing a foreign culture so rewarding, sometimes it’s nice to just look at color pictures of food, press buttons, and eat in blissful peace, no talking required. [Location]

Karaoke Tokyo

(With our friends from Chic Soufflé and Not Hemingway’s Spain)

Karaoke

You’re in Tokyo, so you’re doing karaoke. No, that’s not a suggestion, nor is it a threat. Just a simple declaration of fact. You’re in Tokyo, so you’re doing karaoke. Grab your friends, have some drinks, and relax. This isn’t American-style karaoke, where you’re asked to bleat in front of a huge crowd of strangers. In Japan, you rent a room, and the only people who will ever hear you are those you trust.

We thought that in Shibuya, karaoke might be too expensive, or that we’d have to wait in a long line. But in fact, this turned out to be the best place for it. There are a lot of halls, and maybe because they’re forced to compete, they’re cheap. You normally rent a room for an hour at a time, and the price includes all the drinks you want. The machines can be switched to English, and the song selection is excellent. Kanye West? Guns n’ Roses? System of a Down? 99 Luftballons? Shibuya’s karaoke halls have you covered. But as for your friends’ ears… they’ll have to cover those, themselves.

Crazy Shibuya
Maidreamin’

We sat down at our table in this below-ground restaurant in Shibuya, and were instantly made dizzy by the pixellated decor. Maidreamin’ is a cafe that takes its inspiration from the 8-bit world of Mario Brothers. I don’t remember any flirty french maids in the video game, but perhaps they were on Level Eleven.

We leaned back in our chairs and allowed ourselves to be entertained by a super-sweet cadre of hostesses who brought us food, served us beer, blew us kisses, taught us cutesy-pie songs, and even danced to ear-splitting J-Pop on a tiny stage in the middle of the cafe. It was a bizarre, very Tokyo-ish evening out and even though our personal tastes run more toward butlers, we had a great time. [Location]

Tokyo Tower Framed Photo

More Photos from Cat Street
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
Cat Street Tokyo
More Photos from the Goat Cafe
Shibuya Goat Cafe
Shibuya Goat Cafe
Shibuya Goat Cafe
Shibuya Goat Cafe
Another Beauty Box Photo
Beauty Booth
More Photos from Uobei Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
Uobei  Automated Sushi Restaurant
A Couple More Karaoke Photos
Karaoke Tokyo
Karaoke Tokyo
Another Pic from Maidreamin’
Crazy Shibuya
Random Shibuya Pictures
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
Crazy Shibuya
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June 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm Comments (2)

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.

Location of Shibuya Crossing on our Map

Great Hotels In Tokyo

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

Dinner Behind Bars at Alcatraz E.R.

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It’s safe to say we’ve never dined in an atmosphere remotely similar to that of Shibuya’s Alcatraz E.R. The name says it all: this theme restaurant is meant to emulate the experience of eating inside the blood-spattered emergency room of a high-security prison. Have I mentioned that Tokyo is a little strange?

Alacatraz ER Restaurant

Theme restaurants are all the rage in Tokyo. People will line up to eat in places dedicated to topics like ninjas, vampires, Alice in Wonderland, maids, robots and butlers. And, of course, the emergency rooms of prisons.

After stepping off the elevator, we pressed a big red button smeared with bloody hand-prints in order to open the door of Alcatraz E.R. A woman dressed as a nurse-waitress-torturer greeted us and led us to our table, which was within a prison cell. We walked past grisly scenes of bloody emergency room madness, including mutilated corpses who’d been interred in the floor, and were locked into the cage where we would be enjoying dinner.

Dinner Behind Bars at Alcatraz E.R.

The menu is hilarious, with intestine-shaped sausages served in bedpans, sexually-deviant cocktails and weird culinary experiments like bright blue curry. We ordered a lot, and were enjoying fried chicken when suddenly the lights in the prison went out. Warning signals flashed red down the corridors outside our cell, while blood-curdling screams blared over the intercom. The inmates were loose! We sat silently, until noticing a silhouette in the cell with us. From what I could discern in the strobing red light, he looked rather like a murderer. Jürgen unleashed a wail of terror, the likes of which I’d never heard from him before.

It was quite a night, and not too expensive. I had expected the food to be over-priced to compensate for the show, but that wasn’t the case. Even the drinks were reasonable, and the cover charge was only ¥500. You might want to stay away if you’re afraid of the dark, or prison, or masked men suddenly standing next to you in your prison cell, or evil nurses forcing you to drink from decapitated heads, but otherwise a night out at Alcatraz E.R. is a lot of fun.

Location on our Map

More Strange Stuff from Japan

Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
Alacatraz ER Restaurant
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May 15, 2014 at 9:35 am Comment (1)
Our Favorite Shibuya Sights We spent many entertaining evenings in Shibuya, which has become one of the most exciting areas in Tokyo. There are so many bars, shops and things to do here, that it would be hopeless to attempt listing them all. But here were a few of our personal favorites.
For 91 Days