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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.
Game shops, maid cafes, arcades….it’s all in Akihabara. You can do some duty free shopping, check out the latest Mario, pick up a cosplay wig, hit the anime shop, then have lunch with girls in French maid outfits (but not really if you’re foreign).
Back in the day this place dominated a lot of the electronics and video game sales before the internet and Yahoo Auctions took over. It’s transformed itself somewhat, bringing in a lot of fun places to eat and sight-see, and is still one of my favorite places to walk around.
You’ll find literally hundreds of shops packed in from the flagship Sega arcade to the small shop run by some guy who specializes in some kind of extremely niche electronics. Pick any building and start walking up the narrow staircases to each floor and find some hidden gems you had no idea existed, or marvel at the complete spectacle of their sensory overload arcades. You can get lost for hours. Or show up at night and walk the streets and absorb the lights and sounds.
It’s also a good place to pick up some presents for family and friends back home, especially if you’re buying for younger boys. They sell just about every electronic gadget known to man and probably have the greatest selection of electronic toys in one space in the world.
Oh, how I love Nakano. I stumbled upon it while going to Broadway Nakano, the large retro/cosplay/whatever shopping center that’s there. While walking around I discovered an incredibly quaint little neighborhood area that just oozes Japan.
Broadway Nakano is a shopping complex that’s a bit past it’s prime, feels a bit lonely, but still survives. You will see smaller “Mom and Pop” shops selling mostly retro and otaku items. When you buy something it’s usually directly from the store owner. You’ll find things from your childhood as they were marketed in Japan, things like a Count Chocula figurine from the 80s or a Buzz Lightyear toy from a Japanese Happy Meal. It’s a fun place to walk around and if you find the right shop you’ll have five “WOW” moments within the first minute.
A lot of these things are sold on the internet today (Yahoo Auctions Japan) so there aren’t as many stores there as before and it’s not quite as relevant. But back in the day someone could walk in there and find their Mecca, similar to Akihabara.
When you are done with Broadway Nakano, start your walked back to the station down the left hand side. You’ll find an incredible amount of quaint and picturesque restaurants serving everything Japan has to offer. It’s one of my favorite places to stroll in all of Japan.
Finally, this is the home to the gallery of Takashi Murakami. He is the one who did the crazy pictures you see on the tops of the main pages of this website. He recently opened up a coffee shop in Nakano Broadway and you can buy prints and other merchandise there.