Saturday, April 23, 2016

Exploring the bohemian neighbourhoods of Shibuya and finding some really interesting bars and restaurants in Tokyo

We started out with coffee and tea in Shibuya...

This morning, the spring weather was so fine in Tokyo that we decided to try and outdo our daily 10,000 steps on the FitBit and explore a neighbourhood of Tokyo that we don't really get to usually do. 

It's not so far from my home, but in a way it's a world away, and I was happy to find so many interesting and unique shops and restaurants, along with a couple of quirky ones in this off-the-beaten track neighbourhood of Shibuya.

We found a makeshift beer garden created from a tiny garage...

This is the more bohemian side of a pretty upscale part of Tokyo, nearer the train station. In a previous lifetime it was a gaijin hangout -- and perhaps it still is.

It's about a half hour's walk from my home, which is a really quiet residential neighbourhood in central Tokyo, and then suddenly -- boom -- you're in the middle of narrow winding streets full of color, noise and themes.


I found a very intriguing restaurant with a slogan written right across its entrance that made me decide to come back to this area and try it one day.

Who can resist a meal with unforgettable emotions, after all? Whatever that actually means.


There was also a very cool barber shop -- the kind of barber shop from another era that you might see featured in Wallpaper or Monocle Magazine. Monocle Magazine, incidentally, has its Tokyo store near my neighborhood, in the other side of Shibuya.

It reminded me of the old barber shop at the old Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, although with a more hip design.

When I pointed this barber shop out to Mr. Y, he said, "I think I've seen this featured somewhere."


But perhaps the most interesting places in this neighbourhood were the ancient gaijin hangouts from the days of Japan's bubble economy over two decades ago. 

In those days, gaijin in the financial industry were raking in fortunes for the amount of effort and talent they put in, and so many spent the weekends of the bubble economy getting blasted in charmingly decrepit places like this.

But this was the period of excess in Japan, and everyone was sprinkling gold on miso soup and waving 10,000 yen notes in the air to hail a taxi.

A motorbike in a shop window...

These bars and restaurants didn't seem like Tokyo at all, and most of them were plastered with stickers and signs so that almost the entire walls were covered with graffiti-like art.

Some, though, had quirky designs like vintage motorbikes in their windows, or very tasteful designs like walls sculptured to look like book shelves.

These was a fake bookshelf in a wall sculpture...

And by that time we were ready for lunch.

"Let's get out of here and do a nice French restaurant for lunch," Mr. Y said, paging for his driver to come around and get us in his new sports car that literally stopped traffic, in this charming but pretty uncharacteristic neighborhood for us to be walking around in.

The snazzy new sports car is best as a two-seater although there's space enough at the back for something like a a picnic basket or a Goyard overnight case -- and that's all. So the moment the car rolled up, he let the driver take the day off and took over the wheels himself.

By then we had done 14,000 steps on our pedometers, which meant we could enjoy a full course French meal with a bottle of wine at a nearby Michelin-starred French restaurant, practically guilt-free, living as always a never-endingly delicious #Travelife. 

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