In our ignorance, we assumed driving to Shibuya from Fussa would be the best way. Who needs the train when you have a car, right? Wrong. Japan’s established one of the best public transportation systems for a very distinct reason: traffic. Shibuya’s only about 30 miles from where we are. In Texas, this would’ve taken us 30 minutes; here, it took us almost three hours! But everything is a learning experience, even if we did it the hard way.
It took some getting lost, but we finally found our hotel – and then found out we had to pay for overnight parking (3000JPY). Yikes. We really took free hotel parking at home for granted. We spent the rest of the day getting as lost as we possibly could in the famous Shibuya district. What a sight it was to behold. Streets were littered with people like ants! The Shibuya Crossing is the best example of organized chaos one could witness. For a couple of minutes, the roads are cleared for vehicles, but the light changes, and people rush to cross the street from eight different directions.
At every turn, there were a plethora of shopping, restaurant and entertainment options. Pachinko arcades are immensely popular. Players seem to get lost in this frenzy, and only take the occasional break to smoke. We couldn’t figure that game out, but we did try a couple of other arcade games and Clint had to try his hand at the claw crane machines. We all know those things are nefarious by nature!
Of course, restaurants line the streets and every izakaya had mouth-watering signs trying to lure us in. We only had so much time, so we walked into a random one, and ordered just about half the menu. “What is this weird lemon tartar sauce on fried chicken thing? Okay, give me three more orders!” All oishii. We also tried a yakitori place where we got chicken heart skewers, among other delicious chicken parts. If only I could eat 10 meals a day. Japan, you’re too good to us.
We were also able to visit the The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords. Clint was in heaven. He even got a piece of tamahagane to take home! We got to see legitimate pieces of antiquity; and even though we didn’t fully understand the history of the swords, it was still mesmerizing.
Shibuya is certainly a fantastic starter point to soak in Japanese culture!