Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day 2: Shibuya and Akihabara

On this day, I was all planned and ready to go to Shibuya. Waking at 8:30am on my own due to the only slight time difference between Tokyo and my home town, I was washed, made-up and at the stores by the time they opened at 10. Unfortunately, I was there in the rain. The rain was light, but persistent, and I stubbornly refused to buy an umbrella until I found the perfect cute one. Instead, I either rushed from awning to awning when it was heavy, or walked stoically through the rain when it was light, affecting my best hardcore 'Yeah, what of it?' face for the umbrella holding public.

Luckily, I had an indoor destination in mind. Shibuya 109, just across the famous Shibuya scramble crossing and to the left. For those who are unaware, Shibuya 109 is a very tall but narrow building full of hundreds of little shops dedicated to gyaru fashion, which ranges from very hip hop to floaty country sun dresses to styles we've never even seen back home. Basically, if you're feeling feminine and looking for some preppy fashion with a whole lot of weird to boot, here's your place.

I got in to the building and systemically browsed every store to my taste in the entire building. I saw crazy stuff. Bright colours appear to still be quite in in Tokyo if you go to the right brand, so I had fun ;) I was wearing my Lego heart necklace, 8-bit hairbows and a ton of my other favourite accessories, and it turns out these attract sales assistants like an insect lamp attracts mosquitoes. Adorable girls trotted over to me store after store to squeal 'Kawaii!' and attempt to ask me where I got them even if they had literally no English skill. Luckily my bad Japanese helped a little here. Although it made me realize I have no idea of the Japanese word for 'online'. Some understood the English word, while others put up with my doing a comical mime of using a computer. Either way, they were very happy when they understood.

I tried to just look and avoid buying this time around as it's so early in the trip, but I did cave in for a bright yellow t-shirt that parodies the Jelly Belly logo and a few accessories. From here I headed to find the Japanese souvenir vending machine I had read about (yes readers, I'm a vending otaku). It was an awesome bank of two machines full of traditional cloth and paper crane earrings. It also had a cool sign on it saying thank you for foreign tourism because without it the youth of today may not continue their traditions and they would be lost.

I then headed over to the Disney store. It was adorable!

(My picture of the front won't post for some reason, but people always post that anyway. Personally I love the theming on this side door).

It was full of cute things, but I promised myself I would just look until after I had been to the parks - with one exception. I had heard about this thing called a 'cool towel', a cloth that stays cool as long as it is wet. I heard about it just before I left Australia and didn't have a chance to buy one. Lo and behold, Disney had one with Mickey printed all over it. Needless to say it is mine now.

It was at this point I realised it was getting late for lunch and I had intended to go to a specific shabu shabu place. I used the wonder of GPS to wander back streets I would never have gone down otherwise on my way to the restaurant. Unfortunately when I got there they had closed lunch early due to a lack of patrons :( Determined not to let it ruin my mood, I wandered around until I found a cute looking omerice (omelette stuffed with rice covered in tomato sauce) cafe on the second floor of a building. It was delicious and had great iced tea.

It was here that my crazy shopping brain took over. I saw a pink and blue skirt in the second story window of the next building I just HAD to see. So once I was done I went straight over and navigated to the window. To my dismay, it was pink and gray! Somehow the window had tinted it, and this is not my preferred colour scheme. Slightly dejected, I hung my head and went out the next side door I could find.

When I emerged, I was on a little sloping street full of really cool shops (it turns out the omerice joint was at the entrance of it). I found a shop that sold adorable homewares and came out with a couple of frilly loli-style aprons and a bunch of stuff with cute faces on it. It was then I realised where I was. This was the famous Spanish Slope I'd read about but hadn't had time to research! Hurrah for serendipity.

I then was determined to do two things: find the Tokyu Hands banana vending machine, and get lost in Tokyu Hands properly, both things I hadn't had time to do last time. The vending machine was surprisingly easy to find, and I loved the conveyor belt system to keep them from bruising! After that I explored Tokyu Hands, home of every gadget you never knew you needed.

Mouth stickers for the sorer??

Catan, anyone?

I suppose you could just dress up as a rice ball.

Of course, if you only like to dress as other kinds of food, we've got you covered too.

It's also the home of every sticker set one could ever want, including some with a lolita dress up doll and all of her tiny sticker dresses and accessories (I may possibly own one of these now *blush*) I ended up spending about $50, but I got a wide variety of stuff.

Finally I ended the day by heading to Akihabara, the electronics, games, and anime area of Tokyo. You couldn't wipe the smile off of my face as I wandered from store to store staring at comics and character goods. My main purchases however were made at Don Quixote, the cheap, often wacky, Japanese housewares/costumes/sundries store that is home to some of the best 'only in Japan' gifts. I bought a DragonQuest slime, and finally bought the Akihabara station sign washcloth that I've been regretting not buying for three years! I only paid about $2 for it too :) Anything else I was tempted by I reminded myself there is still plenty of trip left to come back and that I still had Harajuku street fashion, Nakano, and Disney shopping to think about. I had dinner at The Granvania, a maid izakaya that is designed to look like a tavern from a role playing game. I visited this place a lot last time and I'm glad to say it hasn't changed. The girls are still just friendly girls who happen to be in maid costumes, and they still get to design their own costumes and looks. The theming is still adorable too. So with my stomach full of delicious pub curry, I headed home to pack my Disney backpack and prepare for the next day: Tokyo Disneyland!

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