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Downtown Tokyo – Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku

November 2018
Taking the JR Line from Akihabara to Shibuya, we exited the station via the South Ticket Gate at Tokyu Department Store and came across this statue that looks like a human face with wavy hair. This statue resembles the ‘Moai’ figures found on Easter Island. Here it’s called ‘Moyai’, a Japanese word meaning to ‘work together’ in the dialect of the people of Niijima Island.

The statue was donated to Tokyo in 1980 by the people of Niijima amid celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the transfer of administrative jurisdiction to the Prefecture to Tokyo. The island is about 160km south of Tokyo and known for its beautiful white beaches and clear sea waters. The statue is carved from an extremely rare volcanic rock found only on Niijima Island.

Moyai statue, Shibuya

Moyai statue.

Walking around Tokyu Department Store from the Moyai statue to the other side facing Shibuya intersection, is yet another statue. This is the famous Hachiko dog statue. In the 1920s, this dog would journey to Shibuya Station to wait for his master to arrive back from his daily commute. One day his master did not return from work, having suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. This did not deter Hachiko to return to the same spot to wait for his master every day for the next nine years. The memory of this dog has gone on to become a Japanese symbol of enduring loyalty.

Hachiko statue, Shibuya

Hachiko Memorial statue.

Close to the Hachiko statue, just next to the Shibuya pedestrian crossing is statues of ‘Children Playing on Earth’. The statue represent children playing on top of the world. No details relating to this statue could be found.

Children Playing on Earth statue, Shibuya

Children Playing on Earth.

Shibuya Crossing
The Shibuya crossing is where four streets converge to one point. To assist pedestrians to cross from one street to the other, four pedestrian crossing connects each of the streets plus one that goes diagonally. Welcome to the worlds’ busiest crossing sending people in all directions when the traffic light goes green for pedestrians. Hundreds of people, three thousand during peak time cross at once, yet the ‘Shibuya Scramble’ manages to avoid bumping into each other.

Shibuya crossing

Crossing in-front of ‘Children Playing on Earth’. Waiting for the traffic lights to turn green to cross. ‘Shibuya 109’ straight ahead.

Shibuya crossing

Pedestrians crossing the street on green.

Shibuya crossing

Crossing in-front of Starbucks.

Shibuya crossing

In-front of Starbucks looking towards Shibuya Mark City.

Forever 21, Shibuya

Forever 21 behind Starbucks.

Mag’s Park @ Magnet
After being part of the Shibuya Scramble and experiencing it at street level, why not have a bird’s eye view of the crossing from Mag’s Park rooftop of Magnet Building. Take the elevator to 7F, exit and turn left and walk across the food-court/cafe for the ’emergency exit’ door. Walk up one level for the rooftop terrace viewing deck. No ticket is required as of November 2018. The viewing deck is glass shielded and does pose glares when photographing during the day. Using a polariser may help to reduce this. Be aware that the tall buildings surrounding the crossing cast partial shadow onto the street making exposure tricky.

Magnet, Shibuya

‘Magnet’ Building directly in-front of ‘Children Playing on Earth’.

Magnet, Shibuya

Go up to 7F for the free viewing deck.

Shibuya crossing

Shibuya crossing when it turns green for pedestrians.

Shibuya crossing

A close-up shot of the Shibuya Scramble.

Shibuya crossing

Another shot from Magnet viewing deck.

Shibuya

Buildings across the viewing deck.

Shibuya

View towards Shibuya 109 from Magnet

Tsutaya, Shibuya

Looking towards Tsutaya across Magnet.

Shibuya

Overhead crossing between Shibuya Station & Shibuya Mark City.

Shibuya

Street level view of shops.

Shibuya

Drug store along the street.

Since we are not into shopping, we just walked around Shibuya and did street level window shopping to soak in the atmosphere. After experiencing a couple more of ‘Shibuya Scramble’ and few selfies at the crossing, we headed for Harajuku a train stop away on the JR Line.


Harajuku

Harajuku is renowned for it’s teenage culture and shopping. It is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles but also offers shopping for adults. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Street a narrow 350 meter long street located in-front of Harajuku station. It is lined with many fashion boutiques, trendy shops, pre-loved clothing stores, cafes and fast food outlets, crepe stands, all geared towards Tokyo’s young shoppers. Because of the street’s popularity, it becomes extremely busy and crowded most of the time. Daiso was so packed one could hardly move and the queue for payment at 7-Eleven snakes around the aisles. NO, for our age, we don’t ‘dig’ Harajuku. Time to visit Shinjuku.

Harajuku JR station

The ‘European’ looking JR Harajuku station. This is Omotesando exit &150 m to the right is Takeshita exit.                 Credit:wikipedia.org

Takeshita Street

Start of the crowded Takeshita Street in-front of Takeshita exit of Shinjuku station.

Takeshita Street

There are a number of cafe as well as fast food outlets at Takeshita Street.

Takeshita Street

The river of crowd restrict movement.

Takeshita Street

One of the shops at Takeshita Street.

Jardin de Luseine, Takeshita Street

Escape the hectic of Takeshita Street into the pathway leading to Jardin de Luseine (restaurant)..


Shinjuku

Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than two million passengers every day. It is served close to a dozen railway and subway lines and also houses one of Tokyo’s major terminal for long distance highway buses. A large bus terminal known as Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (SEBT) is located on 4F of the JR Shinjuku railway station.

Shinjuku Station

JR Shinjuku Station. Way to Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal on 4F is via the escalator on the left one floor up..

Shinjuku Station

Docomo Tower straight ahead from outside the station.

Shinjuku Station

JR Headquarter & Hotel Century Southern Tower as seen form Shinjuku Station terrace.

Shinjuku Station

Times Square with Takashimaya to the left of the station.

Being just beside the station, we visited the 15 floors Takashimaya Department store within the ‘Times Square’ complex. Not only are the products on sale here are high-end, the prices are too, so again just window shopping. Other big name outlets nearby the station are Yodobashi Camera, BIC Camera & Don Quijote to name a few but they also have branches in Akihabara close to our hotel.

We decided not to venture any further out of the station but to return to our hotel. Although Shinjuku station is dubbed the busiest train station in the world, we did not get lost and made our way to platform 13 for the Chou Line for Akihabara. We ended our fourth day in Tokyo and the 11th in Japan at Shinjuku. Tomorrow we’ll head to Kawaguchiko for Mount Fuji.

Shinjuku Station

Shinjuku Station as seen from Takashiyama.

Shinjuku Station

Chou Line to Akihabara.

Dazzling Light Display By teamLab Borderless, Odaiba

November 2018
Odaiba, a man made island in Tokyo Bay is an ultra modern district popular for shopping, dining and entertainment. You’ll find shopping malls, cinemas, giant ferris wheel, entertainment complex and a couple of big name hotels in Odaiba. For shopping there are four major malls to choose from namely Aqua City, DECKS, Diver City and Venus Fort. Our main inclination visiting Odaiba is to experience ‘teamLab Borderless‘ dazzling digital art museum.

Aqua City shopping mall

Aqua City mall. Fuji Television building in the background.

Aqua City shopping mall

Coca Cola Store, 3F Aqua City Mall.

DECKS Seaside Mall

DECKS Seaside Mall is alongside Aqua City.

DECKS Seaside Mall

Prayer Space at 5F DECKS Seaside Mall. No washing facility. Restroom nearby.

Diver City

Diver City mall with it’s life-size Gundam in-front.                                                                           Credit:wikimapia.org

Venus Fort

Venus Fort mall is along MegaWeb, Leisure Land’s ferris whee, Zepp Tokyo and teamLab Borderless. ‘Pallete Town’ encompasses all of these.


FREE ‘Tokyo Bay Shuttle’ Transport Ride.

Although it is possible to walk from one mall to the other, it’s not for those with sore feet or when the weather isn’t in your favour. The FREE ‘Bay Shuttle’ buses is your answer to getting around Odaiba. Operating at 20 minutes interval at selected bus stops, it will get you to your desired location comfortably and conveniently. You just need to wait for the bus at it’s respective stops to board. The stops (currently 10) and it’s travel direction is shown below.

Tokyo Bay Shuttle

Bay Shuttle bus.                                                                                            Credit:hiveminer.com

Tokyo Bay Shuttle

Bay Shuttle bus route map.                                                                                Credit:backpackersxpress.blogspot.com

Tokyo Bay Shuttle

Bay Shuttle bus stop is signposted like so.


Access To ‘teamLab Borderless’ From Odaiba Pier.

As we arrived Odaiba by cruise, the pier is close to Aqua City mall. We crossed over to Aqua City to catch the ‘Bay Shuttle’ bus and proceeded to Aomi Station stop behind Venus Fort mall. It’s 6 stops away and several minutes ride. This is just a stop for the ‘Bay Shuttle’ bus close to the station but not at the station itself. (To get to Aomi Station, you will require to take the overhead bridge slightly further down the stop).

Getting off the stop, walk into the rear of Nitori Store of Venus Fort mall. Walk across the store and find an exit towards your right which will take you to the main entrance of the mall at a circular atrium facing MegaWeb. Go up to 2F of MegaWeb and walk across the connection passage till you reach MORI Building where teamLab Borderless is located. It is well signposted and the passage way goes under the red ferris wheel to the entrance.

Venus Fort

The atrium leading to the entrance of Venus Fort. Exit here and head to MegaWeb directly opposite.

MegaWeb

Entrance to MegaWeb directly opposite Venus Fort mall.

 teamLab.Borderless

Access to teamLab Borderless. If you came via Teleport Station, you can see Venus Fort and the ferris wheel from there.

 teamLab.Borderless

Passage to teamLab Borderless underneath the Daikanransha ferris wheel, Japan’s tallest at 115 meters

 teamLab.Borderless

Entrance/Exit of teamLab Borlerless.


teamLab Borderless

We bought tickets on-line here (choose English at top right) and you might as well do so as we’ve read tickets sell out fast. At ¥3,200 it isn’t cheap but chances of getting a ticket on the day of visit is slim according to teamLab site, as well as what we’ve read elsewhere.

 teamLab.Borderless

Ticket gate at teamLab Borberless. Visitors queuing to enter.


What is teamLab Borderless ?

Actually it’s ‘MORI Building Digital Art Museum. EPSON teamLab Borderless‘. What a mouthful of long-string-words that doesn’t give you any clue whatsoever what it’s all about (except ‘Epson’). It is billed as world’s first digital art museum covering 10,000 sq meter space and utilising 520 computers and 470 projectors to create light display. In layman terms, we will say It’s a dazzling display of lights which we’ve never experienced before. There are large darken themed rooms within the building where lights are projected onto the walls and floor as well as onto yourself. Choosing words to explain this is rather difficult but the photos below might give you an idea.

 teamLab.Borderless

One of the ‘themed’ light display at teamLab.

Our tips for visitor is to purchase your tickets in advanced, wear flat shoes as some of the rooms are meant to have uneven surfaces, Budget at least 1½ hours to see all the displays and you won’t want to bring tripods, selfie sticks, big backpacks or probably your handbag too. Lockers are available if you want to store them. Wearing light cloths although not necessary, helps blend you into the display. Do take photos with people in the frame as it will add depth, dimension and some ‘sense’ to the photos.

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless teamLab.Borderless
 teamLab.Borderless teamLab.Borderless

It will be a little laborious to explain in-depth about the light display, as such please head over to teamLab & soranews24 website which details more about this. Briefly browse their contents and pictures to get an overview of what to see later and make a mental note of it so you won’t miss any. The rooms are dark, you’re awed, you follow the pack of peoples and weeks later realised you’ve missed something after seeing someone’s Instagram.

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless

 teamLab.Borderless


MegaWeb, Toyota’s City Showcase

After seeing teamLab’s light display, it’s mind boggling to think how technology has been used to create such an ‘artwork’. Thanks to the creative minds of the ‘artists’ who came up with this idea.

Heading out of MORI Building on your way back, it’s no-brainier to drop by MegaWeb for Toyota’s City Showcase or in other words, showroom. You have to pass through it anyway and tickets are not required. For auto enthusiast, be prepared for more time to be spent here. The whole floor of 1F displays all models of Toyota automobiles.

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

View from upper level coming from teamLab Borderless.

MegaWeb is part of Palette Town complex and is an automotive theme park where you can explore everything Toyota. Start by wandering through the showroom and inspect the latest display models. Get inside the vehicle, feel the comfort of the seats upright or reclined. Pop up the boot and see whether it’s big enough. Try the switches, dials and gear shift whether it’s butter smooth. Pose and take photos of the vehicle as your heart content and NO security or showroom personnel will bother you.

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

Entire floor displaying various Toyota models.

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

Car enthusiast could spend hours here freely inspecting car by car.

Various Toyota models on display at Megaweb.
MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase

MegaWeb, Toyota's City Showcase


Getting Back To Tokyo.

Getting back into Tokyo is easy. Take the Rinkai Line at Tokyo Teleport station located within walking distance in-front of Venus Fort or take the Yurikamomi Line from Aomi Station just behind Venus Fort/MegaWeb.

Tokyo Teleport Station

Tokyo Teleport Station is just in-front of Venus Fort.

Tokyo Teleport Station

Tokyo Teleport Station.

Tokyo Teleport Station

Near empty train at Tokyo Teleport.

Tokyo Cruise To Odaiba by HOTALUNA

November 2018
Our exploration of Odaiba, the largest artificial island in Tokyo Bay starts by boarding the ‘Hotaluna’ from it’s pier on Sumida river in Asakusa. Operated by Tokyo Cruise, the Hotaluna is a futuristic looking vessel more like a spacecraft with gull-wing doors.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The embarkation pier on Sumida river facing Tokyo Skytree & Asahi building.

We took the cruise down Sumida river from Asakusa Pier to Odaiba Seaside Park. There is lots of room on the boat and it is spacious, comfortable, air conditioned and fully enclosed. Good to know the vessel is wheelchair accessible. On the day we took the cruise, the weather was sunny and only a few passengers were on board. One would not feel nausea as the cruise was smooth and steady even when passing another vessel. The cruise took approximately 60 mins with a short stop at Hinode pier for passengers to get-off or onto the boat.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The futuristic designed Hotaluna cruise boat.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The Hotaluna ticket to Odaiba. You can book online here.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Not many passengers on this cruise. Spacious and comfortable ride.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The sister vessel Himiko at the Asakusa pier.

Along the way, you’ll get to see Tokyo’s city scape of office buildings and apartments from a different perspective as well as cruising under a number of bridges. You can purchase refreshment and light snack onboard and there are three washrooms, one for disabled passengers.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Passing-by Bandai HQ.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Buildings along the riverbank.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Cruising under one of Tokyo’s bridges.

Before approaching Hinode pier, access to the upper deck was opened and we got onto the observation platform. Feeling the fresh breeze and being able to see attractions 360° makes for an enjoyable experience. The rainbow bridge is one of the main attractions as the cruise sails along and underneath the bridge.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Stairs to the observation deck of the Hotaluna.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Kachidoki bridge near Tsukiji market in the background. The red building is Sumitomo Life Insurance

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Passengers enjoying the 360° views on the observation deck of Hotaluna.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Tokyo Tower in-between skyscrapers.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

A floating restaurant moored at Hinode pier.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The Rainbow Bridge across Tokyo Bay connecting mainland Tokyo To Odaiba.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The massive structures of the Rainbow Bridge.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Underneath we go under the Rainbow Bridge.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

The arrival pier at Odaiba. The Rainbow Bridge in the background.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Sister vessel Himiko at the pier while the Hotaluna gets ready to sail.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Shores of Odaiba Marine Park.

Asakusa to Odaiba Hotaluna Tokyo cruise

Routes you can go from Odaiba pier.

Odaiba Marine Park & Daiba Park

Useful map of Odaiba Marine Park & Daiba Park                                                                 . Credit:http://www.tptc.co.jp

The Odaiba Seaside Pier is next to Odaiba Marine Park. It is to your left as you exit the pier. The park’s Odaiba Beach provide visitors enjoyable walks on it’s 800 meter long sandy beach. As this is a spot for seaside sports like paddle boarding and windsurfing, thus swimming is not allowed.

To the right is Daiba Park where you’ll find Isohama Beach. A short walk along the paved path along the beach brings you into view, a replica of the Statue of Liberty. It’s about 1/7th the size of the original statue in New York. Walk up the flights of stairs to the elevated concrete semi-circle Grand Observation Deck for a view of Tokyo Bay. Then proceed to the statue for a closer view and some photos. From hereon, several shopping complexes are nearby, including Aqua City and DECKS which are a couple of minutes walk away.

Daiba Park

The Rainbow Bride from Daiba Park..

Daiba Park

Sign post with the Rainbow Bridge in the background.

Daiba Park

The Grand Observation Deck, Odaiba.

Daiba Park

The 11 meters tall replica of the Statue of Liberty made of bronze weighs approximately 9 tons.

Daiba Park

A view of the statue from the observation deck.