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Shibuya has evolved into one of my favorite places in Japan. It has everything. If you want lights and sounds, it has that. If you want a mass of Japanese humanity, it has that too. It has Hachiko. And the video screen from “Lost in Translation.” And the Starbucks where you can people watch. Karaoke. Bars. Western food. Everything. It’s a great place to meet someone if you want to go out for the night.
Harajuku is one of my favorite places to visit, and it’s good for seeing during the day. I actually ended up live streaming my walk through, so I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like but you can find a large number of them on Google Images.
Harajuku is a fun place to visit with lots of quirky Japanese people mixed in with tourists, including Japanese. Nearby Yoyogi park is famous for people watching as the cosplayers, the goths, the rockabillies, and pretty much everything else is put on display. There is shopping, places to eat, and fun activities like The Kawaii Monster Cafe.
Don’t get me wrong, Yokohama isn’t bad, but…
There’s just really no reason to spend time there when Tokyo is 30 minutes away. If you find yourself there for business or to meet someone you’ll enjoy the city. It has some great sightseeing areas, shopping, a Chinatown that has what seems like a million Chinese restaurants, a baseball team, and reasonably-priced hotels.
It’s interesting because it has more of a modern feel than most of the older parts of Tokyo. Some of the “older” buildings are Western style in design, showing the somewhat younger age of the city. That’s also it’s downfall since most of what you see will be newer buildings, shopping centers, and designated tourist areas. What you won’t get is that overwhelmingly dense, neon experience of the major parts of Tokyo.
I was lucky enough to catch a baseball game which was a great experience, and they were just about to begin a flower festival which looks like it was going to be amazing. Which was nice. I really don’t have many pictures of the city but here is the Google Images page for Yokohama if you want to see more.
I actually got a cool video of a near grand slam at a BayStars game.
The Gonpachi Kill Bill restaurant is famous because it was in Kill Bill, the scene where Beatrix meets Gogo Yabari and the Crazy 88. You might remember it for the violence. Here is it again, in case you’d forgotten.
As with most movie locations it seems smaller in real life, but you will definitely recognize the overall look of the place from the movie. It’s very old and beautiful, worth seeing even if it weren’t part of Hollywood. The taiko drum performance is a nice touch. The food is standard izakaya items and the crowd is mostly foreign, but everyone seems to love seeing the pictures when I mention Kill Bill. The outside of the building and the courtyard in front are especially beautiful.
One quick note: The location is near Roppongi, a famous bar hot spot in Japan. You might be temped to finish dinner and walk over, but I’d only recommend it if you’re a young guy looking for a good time. It’s not a place to bring your wife, girlfriend, or family. It’s the preferred spot for military guys from around the world on short leaves and foreign scammers so things can get pretty wild on a moment’s notice.
Alcatraz E.R was a great place for me, probably because I like horror movies. The food is standard izakaya fare, but with a twist like drinks served in test tubes and menu items with drinks described with blood types. What it lacks in taste it makes up for fun.
About every 45 minutes they have a “jailbreak” where lights and sirens go off and people dressed like villains run around with fake knives. In the chaos I put my camera through the bars and took a picture in the darkness with my flash and when I looked at the screen I could see a clown with a knife heading up the stairs to our area. I realized he was coming to scare us and when I looked to the side he was already standing next to me, just staring close to my face…heh.
Not too expensive and not a set menu, so you don’t have to order a lot. But it’s fun, so, why not? We didn’t have reservations, just showed up on a weeknight and we were seated pretty quickly.
Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Kawaii Monster Cafe is one of those unique, bombastic experiences in Japan that’s good for a photo op for your friends back home. It’s an explosion of color and cosplay with a limited food selection and mini shows that happen every 45 minutes or so.
The food itself is average, mostly cheaper offerings like pasta, salad, and beef strips. The total cost was about 4,000 yen each. The cake dessert is excellent, and I say that because most desserts in Japan are bland.
It’s a short walk from Harajuku station. You can start the day people watching then head over to Kawaii for some eats.
You can make reservations on their website. Maybe it’s for the evening, or maybe all day. We arrived without a reservation and waited about 30 minutes for a table.