Petting Hachiko & chasing Lolita

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A FEW hours of sleep was enough, though I would have loved to linger longer in bed and enjoy the comforts of my upgraded hotel room with a view. But there is a lot of exploring to do in so little time, and time was moving too fast for comfort on this first Tokyo visit.

Boosted after a shot of caffeine, I zoomed out of the room and head off to the next destination on the list - the Shibuya Ward.

Established as one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo in March 15, 1947, Shibuya is another of Tokyo's busiest commercial towns, and is a major destination for fashion and entertainment. It's pretty much like Shinjuku, but the ward is said to be a "newer" version.

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So what is it to do in Shibuya?

Opening Tokyo's Handy Guide, the page headlines- "a fashionable area that continues to set the latest trends." Then flows-up with "Shibuya-Harajuku-Omotesando. This stimulating town continues to set the trends of the young generation at a fast rate."

A fashionista's destination! Though I may not be as young, I was excited to dive into this part of town and get there via the train, my first ride in Tokyo.

Tip: Be discreet in taking photos inside the train. You will look suspicious.

The first order of the day was to visit the dog that made me cry (clearly why I avoid drama movies.) It's an unbelievable story of loyalty with a heart-wrenching end. The exit of the Shibuya JR Line train station was where Hachiko waited for his master's return.

Tip: If you can't find your exit, worry not, jut say the magic word- "Hachiko?" Any Japanese, English speaking or not, can show the way to Hachiko Square, now a famous meeting point in the area.

After giving the famous dog (the statue. The body is in the National Science Museum) a pat, it was time to see the rest of the ward.

Shibuya has its share of must-sees. Aside from its famous "scramble crossing" (an X shaped pedestrian crossing) across the Hachiko Square, there are the green areas-- the Yoyogi Park, once a training base for the Japanese Imperial Army, and a venue of the 1964 Summer Olympics; and, the Meiji Jingu, a 1920 Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken built amidst a solemn 700,000 square-meter forest with a hundred thousand trees. Then there are the you-need-lots-of-green areas- the ward's fashion centers: Shibuya 109, Shibuya Center Town, Takeshita Dori, the apparel design district of Sendagaya, and the luxury shops at Omotesando.

If there is another facet of Shibuya that is as renowned as Hachiko globally, it is Harajuku's unique street fashion, a style that made the area a fashion capital of the world. It fact, the Harajuku street style, a mesh of many styles from the Gothic Lolita to cosplay, has become an inspiration to several prominent fashion houses and its influences have invaded the international catwalks.

Unfortunately, I didn't witness the animated scene at the Jingu Bridge. Sunday is when these characters show up and socialize all day. But I chanced upon a pictorial on street corner. The person in charge was trying to block the view of bystanders attempting to take photos. Possessive.

Oh well, I can use the pixels someplace else.

rama movies.) It's an unbelievable story of loyalty with a heart-wrenching end. The exit of the Shibuya JR Line train station was where Hachiko waited for his master's return.

Tip: If you can't find your exit, worry not, jut say the magic word- "Hachiko?" Any Japanese, English speaking or not, can show the way to Hachiko Square, now a famous meeting point in the area.

After giving the famous dog (the statue. The body is in the National Science Museum) a pat, it was time to see the rest of the ward.

Shibuya has its share of must-sees. Aside from its famous "scramble crossing" (an X shaped pedestrian crossing) across the Hachiko Square, there are the green areas-- the Yoyogi Park, once a training base for the Japanese Imperial Army, and a venue of the 1964 Summer Olympics; and, the Meiji Jingu, a 1920 Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken built amidst a solemn 700,000 square-meter forest with a hundred thousand trees. Then there are the you-need-lots-of-green areas- the ward's fashion centers: Shibuya 109, Shibuya Center Town, Takeshita Dori, the apparel design district of Sendagaya, and the luxury shops at Omotesando.

If there is another facet of Shibuya that is as renowned as Hachiko globally, it is Harajuku's unique street fashion, a style that made the area a fashion capital of the world. It fact, the Harajuku street style, a mesh of many styles from the Gothic Lolita to cosplay, has become an inspiration to several prominent fashion houses and its influences have invaded the international catwalks.

Unfortunately, I didn't witness the animated scene at the Jingu Bridge. Sunday is when these characters show up and socialize all day. But I chanced upon a pictorial on street corner. The person in charge was trying to block the view of bystanders attempting to take photos. Possessive.

Oh well, I can use the pixels someplace else.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 14, 2011.

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