Shibuya, whether by day or by night, has a pulse of it's own. This is the center of youth culture in Tokyo.
Fashions make their debut, trends are established and truly anything goes. Experience first hand the infamous and much photographed Hachiko crossing and take a walk down love hotel hill.
Hachiko Crossing Outside Shibuya Station
Ready, steady, go! When the green man comes on it's time to venture into the heart of Shibuya - and that means venturing across the busiest of junctions - Hachiko crossing.
All the traffic stops and everyone crosses at once - from all directions.
This is one of those daft things that just has to go on your to do list when you come to Tokyo. Go slow, go with the flow and just enjoy it.
Quick tip - try and do this one when it's not raining - it's not quite the same experience when you're trying to avoid getting your eye poked out!
Love Hotel Hill
Love hotels are a necessary and, blushing as I say this, well worth trying Japanese institution.
Where does the name come from? Well houses in Japanese cities are small - in fact most people don't live in a house, they live in an apartment or mansion (expensive apartment not a big house). Buildings are constructed differently from those in the West and walls tend to be thin - not much sound proofing.
There is still a strong sense of family here and children often won't leave home until they are 24, 25 or older. This gets a little tricky when you fancy a bit of... well... you know what I'm getting at. Problem solved - go find a love hotel.
Love Hotel Choices
You have 2 choices with a love hotel. You can choose to take a 'rest' (anywhere between ¥3,000 and ¥ 8,000) or to 'stay' (anywhere between ¥5,000 and ¥20,000).
A 'rest' entitles you to use a room for a period usually of up to 3 or 4 hours. A 'stay' means you can check in and sleep there - latest check out time is 10am.
Each room is usually equipped with complimetary condom/s, a drinks bar, music, tv, karaoke and, on occasion, some rather unusual toys! Some hotels even have theme rooms so you can be a Roman God or Alice in Wonderland if you so desire.
Checking in is a slightly bizarre affair. As you go in you will see a light board with different rooms displayed. If the panel for a room is not lit then that means the room is currently occupied and you cannot reserve it.
Select a room you like the look of and then press the button beside that room. You then move to a window that is basically curtained over with a slot for you to pay the lady who sits behind. She gives you your keys and off you go.
If you do fancy giving this one a whirl, some love hotels now have signs outside that state that if you can't speak Japanese, they will not be able to serve you. There are also plenty with no such signs. And honestly, what are you really going to say anyway!
To find the love hotel hill area in Shibuya, head up the main road called Dogenzaka. It's worth having a wander round and a giggle to yourselves even if you don't want to take it any further.
Hachiko The Dog
Whichever line you use to come into Shibuya, try and get to the Hachiko exit before leaving the station. Best time to do this - after dark if you can. As you walk outside, take in the sea of neon that greets you from the numerous billboards and video screens that circle Hachiko crossing.
It doesn't take long to realize that this is a popular meeting place where people congregate to wait for their friends. What makes it so popular? Time to meet the reason this area got it's name - Hachiko the dog. You'll see his statue just past the steps that lead down to the subway lines outside the main Hachiko exit.
This wee dog moved to Tokyo with his master, Uyeno san, in 1924, when Hachiko was just 2 years old. Hachiko used to see his master off to work everyday at Shibuya station and would return to meet him and walk home with him at the end of the day. This was a daily ritual that sadly came to an abrupt end in 1925 when Uyeno san died at work and never made the journey home again.
Well dogs have a reputation for being loyal and faithful and Hachiko proved those qualities beyond any doubt. He continued to return to the station and wait for his master for the next 10 years of his life until, finally, he too passed away.
Hachiko was such a familiar sight with passers by and commuters that it was decided to honour his memory with a memorial statue - and there you have it. That's why this is the place to wait for your friends.