Tokyo

Day 2 – Shibuya & Harajuku

We get the metro down to Shibuya for some shopping. Initially get a bit lost on the walkways over the busy roads but eventually stumble across 109, a totally insane mall for teenage girls; little boutiques over 7 floors with obnoxious pop music blasting out of every one and dolled-up teenagers browsing. It’s pretty manic and tacky, but fun to see. Then we find the Loft store – a bit like John Lewis but way cooler – it stocks homeware, kitchenware, stationery, even a good selection of moleskines and Lomo cameras. I’m restrained and only buy a cute teapot with Russian doll cups stacked on top, but will probably come back later on for more.

Loft is attached to a few other malls, including Movida, which houses American fashion label Opening Ceremony, and a branch of Muji on the ground floor. After a nice lunch of Vietnamese sandwiches and pink lemonade in the basement cafe we have a poke around Opening Ceremony – it’s lovely, each floor differently themed and beautifully designed, but a bit expensive. We exit onto the street and find a small branch of Graniph, the design t-shirt shop, but it’s too small to have any good stuff. Then we walk up to Tokyu Hands, another department store that sells everything from plumbing supplies to pet outfits, knitting yarn and suitcases. Have a quick look around but getting pretty tired by this point; have a quick coffee then head to Harajuku.

The main street into Harajuku is lined with cool shops; I buy a T-shirt in the much larger and better-stocked Graniph store and two pairs of jeans in the Uniqlo UT concept store, which is stylishly white with LED lights. At the main crossing is La Foret, a gorgeous mall full of boutiques from Japanese and international designers (there’s even a Topshop with somewhat inflated prices).

Also on this road is the American store Forever 21 but it’s totally packed with girls and hard to navigate. At the crossing intersection we find Kiddyland, a huge toy shop, each floor dedicated to a different character – Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Studio Ghibli, etc – tons of cute stuff.

We veer off the main street onto a back alley and find lots more cool shops, more street labels and some vintage. Have a quick beer in a nice little bar then find a great place for dinner – Cafe Ratia, which claims to be health food but the deep-fried tofu and chicken didn’t seem that healthy – really tasty and good value, though, with lovely balsamic-glazed veggies and good bruschetta for a starters.