After seven pointless hours of staring at the ceiling, jetlag finally got the better of me and I thought ‘sod this’, showered and caught the train into Shibuya at 7.30am with no real agenda. Of course, in hindsight that was probably a stupid move as none of the shops would be open, but at least it gave me a chance to see how mental the station is during rush hour.
Jetlag’s a weird thing, you feel completely awake and yet completely wrecked at the same time, everything takes on a surreal edge to it – a bit like walking home after an all-night bender. As I passed through the ticket gate I spotted a pokey wee restaurant tucked away in the corner with Japanese Salarymen slurping down bowls of steaming ramen and soba before work, so I decided to join them. When in Rome and all that. No sooner had I told the girl what I wanted than it arrived: I mean I literally paid for it at the front and by the time I had got to my seat it was sitting there waiting for me. I think the total time between transaction and me getting my fish/rice/miso soup was about 15 seconds. The mind boggles.
Despite the shops not being open I walked round Shibuya a bit anyway; the usual mix of people going to work, homeless guys looking for PET bottles to recycle and a woman screaming outside an Irish bar promoting the offers for the day ahead. A sign on the window read: OPENS 5PM CLOSES 8AM. Now those are opening hours… I stumbled onto a streetside photo shoot of some girl getting ready to strip off and lie on a sun lounger drinking iced tea while the cameramen and directors bundled up and drank hot coffee to keep warm. I walked the length of Shibuya, crossing overpass after overpass then hopped on the Yamanote line to Yoyogi Koen to visit Meiji Shrine. I’d never been here before, an immensely peaceful forested area with a huge traditional Tori gate. At that time of the day there was the odd tourist floating about but it was mainly just me, my battery-starved iPod and the sound of pebbles crunching beneath my feet.
Walking back towards the station I decided to check out Harajuku for a bit to see if there were any headcases walking about. Despite it being Monday lunchtime there were still a good few women dressed up as little girls, guys dressed up as women and a few that the jury’s still out on. I hoked through thrift shops, ate a random donar kebab in the Spring sun and at that inopportune moment it suddenly hit me I was in Tokyo.