Photo by Tsubasa Kato (ICT, The International Center in Tokyo)
As a history buff and someone interested in antiquated things and things of yesteryear, it was an odd experience finding myself doing a job in Shibuya, a mecca for teens and youngsters looking to showing off their new fashions or makeup such as gyaru or yamamba. Much of the younger generation in Tokyo and the Kanto area screams with joy at the thought of meeting friends in Shibuya or going shopping there with it’s huge lineup of shops in 109 or the Marui or Parco department stores steps away from one of the five or six lines that goes through Shibuya or uses it as a terminal station.
Following five years of working at Shibuya, my view changed dramatically. I had discovered that Shibuya, while on the surface was a cutting-edge town in terms of fashion and language, had a wide array of culture that could be enjoyed by people of various age groups. For someone learning other languages besides English or Japanese or someone interested in B-kyu movies or non-Hollywood, nonconventional films, there are a number of independent theaters, be it in the Shoto area or Sakugaoka area that require a bit of walking but open your eyes to a landscape quite different from Senta-gai (Center-gai District) or 109.
There are museums that cater to younger and older audiences and, for the foodies, there are literally hundreds of restaurants, from Japanese and Italian cuisine to ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Chinese, Korean and others.
I even saw tennis or futsal courts above buildings, a unique use of space in Japan that could/should be a model for other metropolises around the world.
Even for just a walk, Shibuya could be nice to burn calories and for exercising due to the hilly nature of the place, hence the names of Dogenzaka, Spain Zaka, Aoyama-dori (or Blue Mountain road), etc…
There is even a street that connects directly to Roppongi albeit it’s a good 20-30 minute walk for the adventurous folk.
Lived in Tokyo from 1999 – 2009 and calls it his second home. Currently he resides in Oregon and is a Japanese-English translator. He enjoys traveling, learning languages and cuisine. When visiting Japan, he enjoys watching rakugo shows.
*J-E/E-J Translation： http://www.myeyestokyo.jp/translation
*His columns: https://www.myeyestokyo.com/tag/daniel-penso/