MARK / LITTLE MERLION
24 Hours in Tokyo with Mark – SHIBUYA
Finally, Monday! My day off! :) Running a quaint cafe (Little Merlion) in the suburbs means that my work days and rest days are a little different from that of a usual week. Mondays are basically the start of my “weekend” and I love it because the streets are usually less crowded, especially if you avoid the typical weekday peak rush hours.
Today’s Off-day destination: Downtown Shibuya!
Such perfect weather – clear blue skies with just the right amount of clouds, and breezy cool air (bonus: it wasn't too humid so no stickiness too!) I started my journey with a 15 minutes leisurely stroll to Nishiarai Train station. To many, I would always describe Nishiarai to be like the Punggol of Tokyo – it's a nice neighbourhood with all the necessary amenities yet it isn't too crowded.
It’s about 11am, and plenty of seats are available on the train, which arrived exactly on schedule as shown on google maps. Taking the train downtown, you’d pass by the typical Japanese houses, “manshon” (apartments, really) and Tokyo Skytree! Sat right opposite me, were two American boys also heading down to explore Shibuya!
After about a 40 minutes train ride, I arrived at the world famous Shibuya to meet my friend Mia, at the iconic statue of Hachiko (the story of a loyal Shiba-inu who waited for its owner at the train station every day for 10 years!). For good reasons, this landmark is extremely popular for friends and couples to meet up.
Walking across the famous Shibuya crossing, we could spot all the different Tokyo fashionistas – some in quirky costumes complete with matching face masks.
As it was a pretty free-and-easy day out for us, we decided to explore the area with no hard plan in mind to experience Shibuya as local tourists! We found ourselves grabbing lunch at 2foods – one of the newest eating spots in the area. It is a vegan restaurant located at Shibuya Loft, promising Yummy and healthy meals! I had the best selling butter “chicken” curry and green curry with rice, which tasted really flavourful, while Mia had a gigantic “chicken” karrage donut sandwich, the “chicken” tasting just like the real thing! We ended our meal with a hot montblanc donut drizzled in warm chocolate sauce and were really glad we had decided on sharing as it was a huge dessert!
If you haven't already known, Shibuya Loft is a must-visit shopping spot in Japan selling really cool gadgets, cute stationary, soaps and fragrances etc. – I guess we can now add interesting food options to that list! In line with efforts to defend against Covid-19, we had to sanitise our hands and take our temperatures via digital sensing upon entry into Shibuya Loft. But not to worry as it was a fairly hasty process!
After lunch, we walked around and checked out the newly constructed Miyashita Park, which has a skate park, a bouldering wall, a beach volleyball court and lots of green spaces for people to picnic with their drinks from the rooftop Starbucks. The rooftop park sits on top of a cool mall, Rayard Miyashita Park, featuring luxury brands like LV, Prada, and also indie Japanese apparel brands and a cool bookshop/cafe. There’s also the KitKat Chocolatory Shibuya, where you can custom-make your very own KitKat by combining different flavored chocolates, nuts, sprinkles and such! If you're a fan of personalised treats or souvenirs, you might really enjoy this experience!
Japan is really big on seasonal flavors, and so a coffee break at Starbucks to check out the current limited seasonal offering was next on our plan. In the Christmas spirit, we had the Gingerbread Latte which tasted lighter and really similar to their Chai Latte. There was also Creme Brûlée Latte, Chocolate Strawberry Festive Frappuccino and Caramel Almond Milk which we tried and tasted as good as you can imagine from the names!
We checked out the Food Trucks in Shibuya Cast along the way!
After our coffee stop, we were ready for the main highlight the the day: the new Shibuya Sky. Situated on the 46/47F of the Shibuya Scramble Square, we thought it would be well-worth to catch the early winter sunset at such a high point. Unfortunately (or perhaps secretly fortunately!) we were distracted by a cool pop-up shop selling SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) goods, and ended up wandering right to the back of the store. There, we stumbled upon a quiet empty space with floor-to-ceiling windows providing a gorgeous view of the city skyline! “For free!” We found a secret viewing spot!
We probably took too much time and missed the sunset, but nonetheless, the unobstructed views on the roof of Shibuya Sky was AMAZING. Take note that it’s a totally open space where you can run around and sit on the helipad, so it was pretty freezing up there. Like with all major tourist spots in Japan, there is “Designated Photo Spot” with a camera staff who will take professional photos for you, which you can buy on your way out as a souvenir. Alternatively, use own camera for photo taking – that's what we did! While we are all free to have fun, rest assured as there is a staff on hand to ensure that social distancing is observed.
If you're in for a cozy, relaxing time, you can check out the section closed off for patrons of the rooftop bar – it's totally worth getting a drink and snuggling on the sofa with the winter camping level blankets provided!
After about 45 minutes of being really cold on the roof, we headed down to SKY GALLERY, an indoor observation corridor on the 46F. Travellers tip: Make a visit here first, before heading up to the rooftop! Here, you’ll get to enjoy unobstructed views of the Tokyo skyline, without the cold winds on the roof! I highly recommend Shibuya Sky for a beautiful panoramic view of Tokyo, as from here, you can view both the iconic Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree Tower at the same time. (If you went up to the top floor of either towers, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view of the towers themselves).
Paradise Lounge Shibuya is a cool lounge space, with retro designs decorated with old-school vinyl records. It’s a perfect place to chill with some cocktails, craft beers or a hot cuppa with their signature Sky Churros and Sky Donuts. We settled on some fries and churros with hot coffee and tea, watching the Shibuya traffic and lights below us as we close our little exploration trip today.
What a perfect Touristy Day Off at Shibuya!
If you miss Singapore food while travelling in Tokyo, please visit our restaurant, Little Merlion.