Archives for posts with tag: shibuya

Tokyo is a vast city. Its unique urban ‘center’ is actually a cluster of business and commercial hubs, most of which form a rough circle around the heart of the city: the Imperial Palace, some entertainment districts and well-heeled residential neighborhoods dotted with foreign embassies, temples and parks.

Public transport is part of the ethos of Tokyo’s culture – especially trains and different stations even have their own signature tunes, with Takdanobaba famous for using the theme music of Astro Boy. The city famously has an extensive transport network featuring one of the world’s most sophisticated rail networks, comprising an array of private and public train and subway lines; there are even the mandatory hi-tech monorails. The jewel in the crown is the Yamanote line, Japan Rail East’s loop line, identified by its lime green strip livery and station signage. The Yamanote, or 山手線 – Yamanote-sen, is the line that connects the city’s most important transport hubs, its business and government centers and its top shopping and entertainment districts. It’s the line that acts as a conduit for commuters who feed into it from Tokyo’s suburbs and beyond, using many of its stations as interchanges.

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Tokyo, as you’d expect, has a daunting array of accommodations from which to choose, from luxurious international properties with their expansive and expensive rooms and deluxe facilities to the cheap, stacked sleeping cubicles of Japan’s equally famous capsule hotels. 

Choosing a hotel is very much a personal decision, with cost, location, levels of service and amenities all part of the equation. 

granbell hotels

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iTunes, in less than a decade, has changed our perceptions of music consumption and has been the catalyst for a revolution in the music industry.

Since iTunes was launched in 2003: iTunes has had more than 10 billion downloads, mostly at the expense of CD sales and ‘bricks and mortar’ music stores; 29 percent of the $4.6 billion global music industry is now digital; more than 400 licensed music services like Pandora – which has some 75 million users – have joined the music industry; Justin Bieber’s Baby video has been watched worldwide by more than 430 million viewers on YouTube and Ke$ha’s 2010 single, TiK ToK, sold 12.8 million digital units worldwide that year.

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Tokyu Hands is a retail wonderland; the ultimate window-shopping venue. Check out Hands in Shibuya, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro to find everything from souvenirs and giftware to home wares, stationery & art supplies, models & other hobbyist goodies, DIY supplies, grooming & healthcare items and just about anything else you can think of.

An initial visit to Tokyu Hands is good for about four hours of in-depth browsing and a solid denting of wallet-plastic.

William Gibson

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Shibuya brings to mind images of the world’s busiest scramble crossing; the folkloric canine statue that gave its name to the station’s Hachiko exit; the wildly fashioned teen gyaru girls who call this suburb a spiritual home; budget boutiques, fast food outlets and love hotels.

A little way up the hill in udagawa-cho the vibe is cooler; the area’s back streets are dotted with hip boutiques – CA4LA, RagTag, Nano-Universe, G-star; the Bunkamura center defines the area as a cultural hot spot; the PARCO complex of stores adding fashion cool.

PARCO is the fashion and lifestyle retailer who brings a boutique experience to the shopping complex. Shibuya houses the company’s flagship complex. The Shibuya PARCO center comprises cool Japanese and imported labels through its PART 1 and PART 3 stores, while Zero Gate is set to introduce the Bershka label to Tokyo’s urban cool kids early next year.

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No music, no life; it’s the mantra of the giant Japanese music retailer, Tower Records and on the year of its 30th anniversary, Japan’s Tower Records has all that any music lover could want in life. What began as an offshoot of the once mighty, now departed US-based global music retailer, became, following a 2002 management buyout, an independent Japanese retailing giant that is today one of the largest music retailers in the world. With more than 80 stores across the length of the country from Hokkaido to Okinawa, the jewel in the company crown is the flagship Shibuya store, which opened its nine levels of music culture to Japanese music lovers in 1995.

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It’s no secret that manga is big in Japan. Comics, or graphic novels, cover a dizzying choice of genres and titles and are widely read by people of all ages; young school kids devour the latest Doraemon, teenagers pick up their favorite teen titles at the local combini; young women sit in cafes with their preferred josei manga novels; a young man on the train might be poring over a seinen manga; a middle aged salaryman in the same carriage could be flicking through one of this week’s disposable manga collections. It’s a 400 billion yen – or US$4.75 billion dollar – a year industry that is at the heart of the nation’s influential otaku culture.

Detail of original dōjinshi artwork – akudō yūgi : : copyright 2004 Yuki Yasuhara


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Capturing the current zeitgeist in Japan, a mood of more restrained consumerism and environmental awareness, RAGTAG is a recycle store brand that has made thrift store shopping cool. Operating across the country, it offers excellent merchandise in stylish surroundings, selling – and buying – often barely used fashionable clothes and accessories as well as select interior items at some surprisingly affordable prices.

rt ginza

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