Day 7 – Shibuya, Asakusa, Ueno (again) and Roppongi Hills

June 10, 2007 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Travel | 1 Comment
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Monday had arrived and it was time to get back out there and explore Tokyo, starting with Shibuya. I left my luggage at the capsule hotel for the day and took the train to Shibuya station. Once again got a bit lost (clearly a pattern has emerged) and eventually found the right starting point for exploring the district: Hachiko – the statue of the dog that so loved its master it returned every day after his death until he too died several years later. Reminds me of that Futurama episode. Hachiko is the meeting place in Shibuya and near the station entrance and the main intersection you can understand why. The intersection is reportedly the busiest one in the world and even if not it is nonetheless teeming with people crossing every few minutes.

Shibuya is well known for its fashion and walking around and through the fashion stores its easy to see why but if Harajuku has a more alternative inclination then Shibuya could be described as more elitist, more, how should I say, in a Paris Hilton vein of clothing and well vanity. Very glossy, shiny and expensive. I hadn’t intended to spend too much time here but I ended up spending quite some time as I waited for my phone to be recharged at a SoftBank I stumbled across (I had left my charger in Osaka).  So I explored some more, which turned out to be a good thing as a few more stores were opening now that it had reached 11, including a very large anime/mange store – Mandarake. It was very popular with more foreigners in this concentrated space than I’d seen through all my traipsing in Akihabara’s manga shops the previous evening. Afterwards I ate at a random hole in the wall got my phone back and began navigating my way to Asakusa. Shibuya is excellent for fashionistas and for the rest of it’s great to sit down and people watch.

With a more rustic or traditional feel Asakusa may be the closest you’ll get to a ‘traditional’ Japan in Tokyo, well that and loads of tourists, shops selling to tourists and the giant Asahi beer factory. But besides all that it is nice and relaxing to wander amongst the stalls and through the Sensoji temple. Apparently the temple had recently had some sort of event (possibly related to those I’d seen in Akihabara) and as a result there was a great deal of dismantling and other clean up activity going on, however this did not deter me or the other tourists from checking out the large temple at the center, the tall imposing pagoda or the assorted shrines set up in the grounds.

Asakusa is a pleasant place to wander around but at the end of the day the throngs of people put a real dampener on any real enjoyment. Additionally, I don’t intend to write so little on the temple or the district but honestly, I wasn’t overawed by the complex per se but the combination of temple grounds and shopping streets does create an atmosphere and it is this atmosphere that I as a tourist savoured the most from my experience in Asakusa.

It was now starting to get a bit later in the afternoon and it was time to return to Akihabara to pick up my belongings and check-in at my next hotel. I admit I didn’t particularly want to go through the effort of researching a new place so booked myself back in my original hotel in Tokyo – the Oak Hotel. After all it was fine the first time. I paid less than 7,000 yen and received a single room with ensuite. The room also features a TV and phone, while the hotel is accessible 24hrs (with swipe), has several internet computers, friendly staff and a small common kitchen and is located about 10-15 mins walk from Ueno station. Overall it is very good for the money that you pay. Really the only downside for me was having to lug bags there after arriving after a long international flight and train ride into Tokyo – a minor complaint that should not detract from the other advantages.

Once I’d settled back in my room I made my way to Roppongi Hills to catch up with jjag and have a wander around looking at the good side of the tracks area compared to its neighbour Roppongi – which we’ll cover briefly in a future post. There isn’t much to say about Roppongi Hills other than it is gleaming and well to do.

1 Comment »

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  1. hi,
    thanks for linking me on your side bar XD hahaha i’m ‘dust eater’ i’m surprised anybody reads my blog!
    nice travel posts btw! i’ll definitely use them if i’m planning my travels to japan 😀

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