Stumbling out of Genki Sushi (read more here → Japan Day 5), it was time to head back out onto the busy streets of Shibuya.
Growing up, my sister and I indulged in the likes of anything Japanese. Living in multi-ethnic Singapore exposed us to different cultures and lifestyles at a tender age. While not fanatics, we enjoyed browsing manga and following up on the latest anime. In fact, Sailormoon was one of our favourite anime and we religiously tuned in every weekend to catch the series.
Of course, as we grew older our interest diversified to encompass others. Still, One Piece was one of the many animes we used to catch as teenagers. As such, I decided to check out the One Piece Mugiwara Store @ Shibuya PARCO. My cousin, Chu Lei, was a huge One Piece fan, and I wanted to delight her with pictures of her favoured characters.
Mugiwara Store is named after the famous pirate from this popular series – Monkey D.Luffy.
**Reel bits – “Mugi” means wheat in English and “Wara” means straw; combines to form a simple abbreviation of our protagonist “Straw Hat Luffy” as he wears a straw hat most of the time.
A must-visit place for otaku lovers, the store is well-stocked with an impressive selection of One Piece merchandise. The product line-up ranges from stationeries, stickers, clothes, mini figurines and even compact snacks. All proudly displays the One Piece logo and/or features favoured characters such as Luffy and Chopper.
Of course, the highlight is the life-size figurines that stand prominently at the entrance of the store. Locals and tourists alike are eager to snap an off-screen shot with their affectionate characters. And I am no different.
Keen to capture a shot for memory’s sake, I unabashedly registered the help of strangers. But hey, we’re in Japan! Everyone’s willing to help a stranger in need, especially visitors from a foreign land.
As mentioned in my previous post, Shibuya is a vibrant neighbourhood cramped with shopping, entertainment and a wide selection of food. The busy intersection connects the station to major departmental stores. One famous shopping complex is Shibuya PARCO.
Housing more than 100 shops, Shibuya PARCO offers an extensive mix of fashion, pop culture and entertainment facilities. There is also an exhibition space that hosts frequent shows by artists and designers from Japan and abroad.
Besides checking out the Mugiwara Store at Shibuya PARCO, I also detoured past the Pokémon-themed Cafe that was opening for a limited time – from 9 January until the end of February 2015. Pokémon was another series my sister and I adored. The thought of tucking into a Pikachu Omu-rice warmed my heart and delighted my senses.
Much to my dismay, there was a long line of customers waiting to enter the restaurant and like hotcakes on my fingertips, I immediately dropped the thought. Maybe one day I’ll satisfy my inner otaku and dine in the delectable setting of my favourite Pokémon.
Muji is another store that can be found in Shibuya PARCO. Muji (無印良品) is short for “Mujirushi Ryōhin” which also means “brandless quality goods”. It is known for its design minimalism where products are packaged in a simple yet functional manner.
The essence of Muji resembles closely to wabi-sabi (侘寂); a Japanese aesthetic concept that preserves beauty in its deliberate imperfection. Wabi-sabi embraces simplicity by eliminating the inessential. It is quiet, slow and uncluttered; presenting fresh perspective through the combination of natural elements.
Muji is one of my favourite Japanese brands. Some of the items that I frequently purchase are stationeries, clothing and household products. Singapore has a number of Muji outlets and despite its “brandless” name; Muji has managed to gather a group of loyal customers thereby crafting a competitive positioning in the global retail market.
After some time, shopping in Shibuya made me weary. The incessant trail of strangers flooding the busy streets struck a lonely chord with me. The hollow sounds amplified, resonating with each step. It was time to recoil into my thoughts and contemplate… but where?
Turning my head across the busy intersection, a quaint shop on the second floor of a mall caught my eye. “Hoshino Coffee”, read a lighted signage.
Pancakes with a view?
Hoshino Coffee is a Japanese cafe that specialises in hand-drip coffee and is popular for its thick souffle pancakes. Besides pancakes, Hoshino also serves dishes like french toasts, sandwiches and pasta.
I was pretty lucky as a friendly service crew whisked me to a “1st class” seat upon my arrival. Awesome!
After some struggles with my order (I wanted to try everything as it all looked so good!!!), I laid back and was immediately drawn back into the scramble. The bird’s eye view allowed a wider vision of the intersection. Like an audience seated in a far corner of the cinema, I watched the scenes unfold. Not part of the crowd, yet as one; our lives entwined in the intricacies of the human existence.
Hoshino Coffee is a great place to gaze openly out onto the busy streets of Shibuya. I do recommend you to take time out and spend a luxurious afternoon to the whims and fancy of Tokyo, a city that never seems to sleep.
For more of my adventures in Tokyo:
– Tokyo, Japan – Kuramae & Asakusa
– Tokyo, Japan – Senso-ji Temple & Yurakucho
– Tokyo, Japan – Nui Hostel & Tsukiji Fish Market
– Tokyo, Japan – Hidemi Sugino & Robot Restaurant
– Tokyo, Japan – Kōenji
– Tokyo, Japan – Of Strangers and Conversations
To be continued…