Tokyo doesn’t allow for many opportunities to go slumming, but if you are desperate for a bit of dirt, grime and even some wanton graffiti, Shibuya’s two tiny streets of tiny bars is the place to go! Like Omoidedori and Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Nonbeiyokocho is crammed with bars so tiny that four people are considered quite a crowd. The bars on the “open” street are more open to newcomers and foreigners and the barflies tend to spill out on street and mingle with the patrons of other bars. On the “closed” street there are a few members-only places, karaoke places where you really don’t go without coming with someone well known and even a few bars that never seem to be open yet always full. Some of the bars have a table charge as well, so if you’re on a budget it might be best to inquire first. Nonbeiyokocho is a bit tricky to find even though it is just stone throw from the station – this is part of its charm!
Just look at this banana vending machine! Fruit vending machines have been around for a long time in Japan, following in the illustrious footsteps of many other type of vending machines, and here is the famous banana vending machine of Shibuya. Japan truly is a nation of vending machines, although we seem to be way behind peak vending machine, as every year we see less and less of them around. At the island of Oshima for example, where quite a large part of the local villages were buried in ash and lava after a volcanic eruption you can still see the tops of old vending machines sticking out of fields of nothing here and there. So although we still get nice new vending machines every now and then it is nothing like the eighties. People who like fruit vending machines might also be interested in the cut flower machine in Shinjuku station or the apple vending machine in Suidobashi station here in Tokyo! The banana vending machine is easy to find, it is just at a corner of the lowest spot on the huge Tokyu Hands department store in Shibuya! Enjoy!
At the perpetual construction site that is Shibuya’s East Exit you are usually greeted by the most delicious smell as you step out into the fresh air, the vanilla cream scent of Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs, and just to the right of you is the main store of the entire chain, a little hole in the wall outlet with a nearly perpetual line of people stocking up on the wonderful pastries. It’s no secret that any retail space on the ground floor and within a stone throw of Shibuya station usually has almost astronomical sales figures (at least until a couple of years ago, one make up store near the north exit had the highest cash turn around per square meter of any commercial real estate in the world), so I can only guess that Beard Papa’s will fight tooth and nail to keep this location open during the common renovations of the department store building above it!
I took these photos of the area between Shibuya station and the Hikarie building last summer, but forgot to post them, so here goes, the beautiful blue hour with a great sky! The Shibuya station and the area around it is going through a reconstruction phase that has been going on for over a decade and will probably be going on for a couple more! With a city the size of Tokyo you need to have a really long planning phase and I read somewhere that plans for how Shibuya would look in 2050 was drawn up already in the 1950s. If you have ever been in Tokyo, chances are that you have been one of the 2.4 million people passing through this station every day. Enjoy!