Scrambling to Shibuya

Shibuya was one of the few places that I looked up before arriving in Tokyo. I knew that it was a tourist center of the city and that it could be considered the Times Square of Tokyo. According to my itinerary, I knew that I would be spending time in Shibuya during my first week, but I was not yet aware of how much time I would spend in this overcrowded series of city blocks.

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Our first encounter was during my night on the town before the program began. The lights were bright, and the consumer culture was evident. It was impressive at first glance, but there was not much substance behind the numerous storefronts.

The school I worked with during my first week was located in Shibuya; the Yamanote Line delivered my host sister and I there each morning. Our time there consisted of stepping from train to bus and seeing the city through the window (while struggling to get the bus wifi to work).

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My beloved backstreets.
My second week was the most Shibuya-intensive. I stayed in a hotel a few blocks from the central scramble area. Again, we had to take a train each morning with a transfer at Shibuya station. This encouraged me to stay out after school since I had to tap out of the station anyway. Because of this, I discovered Tokyu Hands (a DIY store in which I spent too much money), the Patagonia store (where I bought stickers and nothing else), and purikura (a photo booth that photoshops you into an alien). I went on adventures simply because they were convenient. It was easy to hang out with students after school because Shibuya is centrally located, and there are plenty of things to do. It was also cool to go on my morning runs through the normally-busy blocks that were desolate before 7am. This week made me appreciate Shibuya for more than only what it appears to be.

During my final week in Tokyo, I’m pretty sure my school was in the middle of nowhere, but I still managed to wind up in Shibuya after school. I was vaguely familiar with its layout, so I felt like an insider.

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Our time together ended way too soon, but on my last night in Tokyo, I found myself running through stations to catch the last train of the night to Shibuya. Even though we never made it to a club or a karaoke place, walking and talking through the backstreets of Shibuya was the perfect way to end my marvelous month in Japan.

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