Sunday, April 20, 2014

Japan Trip XIII: Shibuya/The Loft

As the Japan trip fades into memory, it's getting harder to recount the trip with total veracity. We're already limited to things that stood out in my mind to begin with. And it doesn't help that I'm still recounting this day in which I was mostly out of it due to motion sickness.

Regardless, I'll try to remember what I can about our first trip to Shibuya.

Do you know that intersection in Tokyo that everyone likes to show when showing clips of Japan? The huge, five-way crossing with the Times-Square-esque advertisements all over the place? The one that always seems to be completely packed with people and vehicles?

That's Shibuya Crossing.

That night we visited this place. It was exactly as crowded and colorful as the pictures suggest. In fact, when we went there Lindsay made sure that everybody knew to keep their eyes on everyone else, since getting separated in the throng was a very real possibility.

We crossed the streets and found ourselves in a heavily commercial district which, given the types of stores around (many big-name, high-end American chain stores), it really felt like we might as well have been in New York.

Our destination was a place called The Loft, which is a place that carries several products from Hobonichi, the company run by Shigesato Itoi. Lindsay had an appointment there, I think, and was excited to show us a display for this bear doll they were selling.

After getting lost in a mall for a while, we made it up to the top floors of a building. The store on that floor offered a variety of things: books, stationery, towels, all sorts of stuff. But most conspicuous was how about half of the floor was dedicated to these bear dolls, all lined up on little platforms attached to the wall. There were several people there to care for the display, and the marketing was pretty creative.

I should describe this bear. It's about a foot tall, with black fur and very pose-able limbs. Also, its mouth is open, displaying rows of sharp teeth. It looks a bit scary, really, which is part of his character--he's very self-conscious about his teeth, and sometimes wears a mask to cover them, since he doesn't like to scare people.

I think the dolls run ~$200-300 each, by the way. Hence the production. They are very limited.

Afterward, we explored another stationery shop on the ground floor, then began exploring Shibuya further, I think looking for someplace to eat. Our search took us through much more Japanese-looking places, like interesting alleyways filled with arcades and pachinko parlors.

Eventually, though, we ran into our eternal problem--our group was too big for these restaurants. So, instead we decided to head back to our house, where we knew there was a family restaurant nearby...

...Which will be the subject of my next Japan post.

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