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!
If you are in Tokyo today you really should treat yourself to the gourmet event of the spring, the All Japan Food Festival held right between Harajuku and Shibuya station outside and at the NHK Broadcasting Center (if you travel by the Yamanote line you’d be closest from Harajuku station) from 10 to 16. I went and got to try a lot of great food and drinks from all over the country. It was absolutely not the best place and time to do photography as I bought bags of stuff and spent most of my time with food in my hands but I did manage to get a few shots! Here’s the captions:
1. A yuzu juice drink from Tochigi prefecture, named appropriately Yuzuppe, after the local dialect’s habit of ending sentences with the word …dappe! 2. Delicious chicken clubs from Shimane prefecture. 3. Fizzy Pear soft drink from Tottori prefecture. 4. Garlic rayu (a kind of seasoning pefect for your plain white rice) and melon juice cans from Shiga prefecture. 5. The super cute Shiga melon character Ouminchi! 6. & 7. Daidai (bitter orange) cider and daidai/wasabi dressing. 8. Some very interesting and very rare actually made in Tokyo Japanese sake! 9. One of the cute Hokkaido berry girls! 10. 100% Saga prefecture Mikan juice. 11. The straw God from Kagoshima prefecture remade in Tokyo.
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!