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|Peter: Peter here. We are back with another Japanese culture class. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Okay we have a very, very special treat for everybody out there. Joining us in the studio for the first time is.
|Chigusa: Hi everybody, this is Chigusa. It’s really nice to meet you. I am here for the first time and…
|Peter: Okay now let me tell you a little bit about Chigusa. Chigusa is an expert in the topics we are going to cover over these next few weeks. Chigusa, what are these topics we are going to cover over the next few weeks?
|Chigusa: We are going to cover the hottest cities in Tokyo.
|Peter: Yes Chigusa knows Tokyo. Chigusa knows a lot of international cities but her specialty is Tokyo. So Chigusa, what are we going to cover for the first topic for everybody today, the first, the hottest section of Tokyo.
|Chigusa: The hottest section of Tokyo of course is 渋谷.
|Peter: Can you give us this name one more time, nice and slow.
|Peter: Japanese uses Chinese characters and they all have meanings. What does 渋谷 mean? Why don’t we start there?
|Chigusa: Okay Shibuya is constructed of two kanjis, the first is 渋 which means bitter and the other one is 谷 which means valley and 谷 is also read as や. So that makes Shibuya and it’s bitter valley.
|Peter: Do you have a bitter impression of Shibuya?
|Chigusa: Not much because it’s so exciting and all these young people are always around. It’s not quite bitter, it’s more of a sweet and exciting city for me.
|Peter: Sweet valley, yes.
|Chigusa: Yeah sweet valley but the kanji is bitter valley.
|Peter: You think we can get the name changed?
|Chigusa: The name change. Maybe if we try but I don’t know. There is quite a history behind it too.
|Peter: Can you tell us a little bit about that history?
|Chigusa: One is, there used to be a samurai called 渋谷 and that’s the start of it. That’s one thing I heard.
|Peter: One story behind the legend of Shibuya.
|Chigusa: Yes. And the other thing is that the location here is near Shibuya-gawa, it’s a river. It’s not running anymore but it used to.
|Peter: So couple of possibilities behind the name.
|Peter: All right. Well yes, as you said, the river is no longer running.
|Chigusa: No longer.
|Peter: And the Samurai era is over.
|Peter: So Shibuya has changed quite a bit.
|Chigusa: Right and in the late 1990s because Shibuya was such an IT technological city, the Americans used to call it bit valley.
|Peter: Bit valley.
|Chigusa: Bit valley.
|Peter: Ah a little play on the words of bitter.
|Chigusa: Yeah bitter and Silicon Valley.
|Peter: Yeah the US had the silicon.
|Peter: So the Japanese had the Bit valley.
|Chigusa: Bit valley and that’s what it was called in the United States I think in the 1990s.
|Peter: Yeah I am not sure either. We should ask an American.
|Peter: You know anyone?
|Chigusa: I don’t know. I – actually I just read this today and heard of Bit valley.
|Chigusa: It was really news to me. It was new to me too.
|Peter: No, no no, don’t listen to Chigusa. She knows about this. This is what she majored. I think she wrote a thesis, a doctor thesis on this right?
|Chigusa: Right, right, right, right. I got an A on it too.
|Peter: There you go. I like that style Chigusa. Okay so now that we gave you the history, we are going to give you a few locations and a little bit of history behind one of the locations. There are a couple of famous landmarks in Shibuya. Can you give us the first one, probably the most famous and the way everybody knows this is, where do you meet someone in Shibuya?
|Chigusa: The place to meet people at Shibuya is of course Hachiko.
|Peter: Okay and what’s this?
|Chigusa: Hachiko is a statue of a dog and there is a really great story behind it. There used to be a dog called Hachiko and he was a really loyal dog and he used to wait for his master at the station everyday but one day, his master passed away but the dog couldn’t quite understand the concept of people passing away. So he kept on waiting at the station for years and years and now he is a statue.
|Peter: And the reason we bring this up, in Shibuya it’s so big and the square is quite big but not that big where you can’t find someone. So whenever you are meeting someone in Shibuya, where do you meet? You meet at…
|Peter: Yes and the statue itself is quite small. It actually – kind of this is a square around it and there is usually someone playing music there, people dancing and its right next to the intersection that was in the movie, Lost in Translation.
|Peter: So if you remember that intersection, there are ton of people and I have heard that it’s the busiest intersection in the world.
|Chigusa: It must be.
|Chigusa: Like all the time on state news shows where they show a lot of people and like the busy area, Shibuya is always the place they shoot.
|Peter: They show…
|Peter: Yeah. So there is a lot of people. Chigusa is – after the show, she is going to go there and count them and we will give you an update on how many people that Chigusa counts.
|Peter: This should be a great challenge for you. So the point of this whole exercise was well, the point of my rambling was that that’s where everybody meets and there is so much going on there. It’s one of the – if you really want to get a feel for how a live Tokyo is, where do you want to go Chigusa?
|Chigusa: Go to Shibuya.
|Peter: Yes and you want to start off at
|Peter: Yes and then you want to cross the intersection and go to – well I don’t want to go there but I have a feeling that Chigusa wants to go there.
|Chigusa: No, no everybody should go to Shibuya 109. It’s the place, you should go there to meet girls. There is a bunch of pretty girls there.
|Peter: Chigusa, I am married. You are trying to get me – you know…
|Chigusa: It’s going to be fun like if you want to have some fun and like your wife is outside partying with her friends, maybe you could go to 109 and just watch girls pass by because they are really pretty.
|Peter: Thank you Chigusa.
|Chigusa: That’s one thing you could do. If you are really bored, you can just go to 109 and watch the girls. Watch the girls, don’t touch them!
|Peter: Yes and Chigusa would also like to point out – I believe they sell clothing there too right?
|Chigusa: Yes. What’s it famous for is the clothes. 109 is a really big department store where they sell clothes and cute little you know wallets, earrings. They have practically everything and the target is based on teenagers and maybe young, early 20s but my sister who is already 34 still goes to 109.
|Chigusa: So it’s really – I think its 40 or less. Everybody goes there.
|Peter: All right. Yes I’ve been there a few times and really cutting edge fashion like top notch fashion that’s going to – pretty much, whatever you see at 109, within six months, it will be throughout Asia, maybe a little longer, you know like it’s very, very trendy.
|Peter: Which is why I never go.
|Chigusa: It’s quite fun though.
|Peter: I think and what you pointed out though was girls. I think it’s more geared towards girls like I couldn’t find anything for myself there.
|Chigusa: Well it’s mainly for the girls and like they have like skirts and like pretty gorgeous stuff.
|Peter: Okay so there it is. Chigusa recommends 109. For the guys, check out the girls. For the girls, check out the clothes.
|Peter: Enjoy. Okay so look at this. We already, we got you out of the station. We got you through Hachiko right across the intersection. I mean 109 is right there. You could hit it with a baseball from Hachiko. Okay so we got three major things and also the intersection has three huge TVs. So, so much going on. Again it’s one of the places you can go to to really get a feel of how alive and how vibrant and how energetic Tokyo is. Okay now let’s get into the good stuff. 109 is I don’t know running through about 10 PM right?
|Peter: Then it’s got to close down right?
|Chigusa: Right 10, about 10.
|Chigusa: So what are you going to do after?
|Peter: Chigusa, you should know this. Come on!
|Chigusa: So after 109 closes, where do you have to go? You have to go to the clubs.
|Peter: Thank you Chigusa, yes. What else is going on in the Shibuya and now you are going to get information from one of the most knowledgeable people about night life in Tokyo. It is now Chigusa’s moment to shine. Chigusa?
|Chigusa: Okay one club you should go to is Club Harlem.
|Chigusa: I think it’s the biggest club in Shibuya and it’s mainly hip hop but they have like dance parties like where they have dance showcases, people dancing, dancers dancing and people doing lives and of course famous DJs playing and you can get a lot of drinks of course and it’s open till like 6 or 7 AM. So you could just party all night.
|Peter: 6 or 7 AM, oh Chigusa! I have to be in home at bed by 12. You are laughing too much. Okay stop right there! Now first tell us a little bit about clubs in Japan. How do we buy tickets, how much is it, what’s going on? Give us the details. How do we ask for ticket? What’s the word to ask for ticket, what’s the word to get in? Do we get a bracelet, how many floors are the club? Give us some details.
|Chigusa: Okay there is a bunch of clubs in Shibuya. It’s located in one section but practically you go in. There is a guy standing there. You have to show your ID to show that you are over 18.
|Peter: Just 18 to get into club?
|Chigusa: 18 to get into clubs and more than 20 to buy drinks.
|Peter: Okay and they mark this with a bracelet or something?
|Chigusa: It depends on the club. Sometimes they give you bracelet, sometimes they stamp you on your hands, sometimes they don’t give you anything or maybe they give you drink tickets. The price is usually ¥1500 to ¥3000. It depends on the party.
|Peter: Yeah USD15 to about USD30, okay this club you mentioned, Harlem, now how big is it? You know, that’s one of the things we hear about Japan. Everything is so small, everything is so you know condensed. How big are these clubs?
|Chigusa: They are pretty big. Well of course it depends on which club you go to but Club Harlem has about 3 or 4 floors.
|Chigusa: Yes and one is the main floor and there is a really huge dance floor and a DJ Booth and a lot of lockers, more people stuff their stuff.
|Peter: Great point. Yes they have lockers inside where you can put your valuables.
|Chigusa: They have lockers inside.
|Peter: I don’t really know if you want to put too much in there. Don’t go putting diamonds in there. It’s not you know a safe deposit box but…
|Peter: It’s good enough to get your clothes in there.
|Peter: And some other things.
|Chigusa: Other things yes. Well, Tokyo is safe compared to the United States but sometimes….
|Peter: Chigusa…blast for me. The US is very safe.
|Chigusa: Well like at clubs and like nightlife.
|Peter: It’s a joke.
|Chigusa: Of course I know but in Tokyo, you can be well, I don’t say you have to be less aware but it’s pretty safe but still you have to keep your belongings like your important stuff with you. Be sure…
|Peter: Yeah just be cautious.
|Chigusa: Yeah just be cautious.
|Peter: If you are being sensible, you shouldn’t have any problems but you know, oh I got my car stolen in Tokyo. You know, I left it running and I went into the club. Yeah someone is going to – maybe someone will take it but yeah just be sensible.
|Peter: And you will be all right.
|Chigusa: Yeah no problem.
|Peter: And also I noticed like one thing. You know, Japanese clubs are – people seem more laid back. Much – you know everyone is having fun and having a good time right?
|Peter: Yeah. So not as kind of quick tempers as you might find somewhere else in the world.
|Chigusa: I have never seen that much violence around Shibuya whole my life. So in that sense, it’s really good.
|Peter: So you should have a great time and now, one thing I want to point out is the age groups. What kind of age groups are going to these clubs?
|Chigusa: It ranges pretty much from 18 year olds to maybe late 30s.
|Peter: And that’s a thing. Like maybe it depends on the club but I am pretty sure. No matter what age you are, you can find a club to go to. Even older people tend to go out to clubs.
|Chigusa: Yeah they do at 40s, people in the 40s.
|Peter: Yeah but I think the genre of the club will tell you a lot about whether you know, you will find other people of your age there but very, very unique.
|Chigusa: It’s unique yes.
|Peter: Interesting. Okay so we have your recommendation and as you said, the clubs are kind of….
|Chigusa: Concentrated in one area.
|Peter: Yes the club area. So what else? Do we have the bar area in Shibuya?
|Chigusa: The bar area. There is a lot of restaurants and bars throughout Shibuya I say but especially there is a street called the Center street Center Gai, it’s in Japanese. When you walk through Center Gai, you will see a bunch of restaurants and bars and shops and Manga Cafes if you ever heard of them.
|Peter: Yes and what are these? Can you just give us this quick?
|Chigusa: Okay 漫画喫茶 is the word in Japanese but it’s usually open for 24 hours and there is just a bunch of comic books and you will just have to pay the entrance fee and you can read as much as you want to.
|Peter: Yes and you can drink as much as you want.
|Chigusa: Yes, yes.
|Peter: But it’s not alcoholic.
|Peter: So I have a friend and he sleeps here.
|Chigusa: Ah people do that.
|Peter: Yeah like he goes there…
|Chigusa: It’s really comfortable right because the sofas are pretty good. They have good sofas.
|Peter: Yes very, very nice sofas. It’s definitely also yeah, we forgot to recommend that. Like if you come to Japan, it might be worth it to pay the one hour fee. I think you pay by the hour right?
|Chigusa: You pay by the hour yes.
|Peter: So you might want to just go in and check out one of these comic book cafes as you said and just go in and kind of check out, see what’s going on there, see all the comics. They are all lined up. Get yourself a drink, they have coffee, tea, orange juice and even if you can’t read, just check out the pictures. It’s pretty cool.
|Chigusa: Yeah it’s really cool. They have movies too.
|Peter: Now yes, the nicer ones, they have – you get a reclining chair. So if you pay a little bit more, you get a reclining chair and you have access to CDs, DVDs and the reclining sofa which you were talking about the chair to sleep in. The first time I saw a matrix was in 漫画喫茶.
|Chigusa: How was it?
|Chigusa: Well some 漫画喫茶s even have a theater room.
|Peter: Are you serious?
|Chigusa: Yes. It’s really nice. It’s all private, the door closes of course and you can get the lights down and you have like a mini-theater.
|Peter: And this is for one person or two people or?
|Chigusa: About two or three. The room is quite big but there was a little sofa I think for two people.
|Peter: What – where is this?
|Chigusa: The one I went to was in Yoyogi which is two stops away from Shibuya.
|Peter: Wow, all right, I am going to get that address afterwards. I know where to take my wife for our anniversary. Oh boy!
|Chigusa: Poor wife.
|Peter: Oh Chigusa, you are using me as a punching bag today.
|Chigusa: Take her to a good restaurant.
|Peter: Okay so now we got that covered, is there anything else that we should mention about Shibuya. How about department stores?
|Chigusa: There is a bunch of department stores as I’ve mentioned before in Shibuya and there is quite a history behind it too. There is one big department store called the Tokyu Department store which is the oldest department store in Shibuya.
|Chigusa: Yes and 109 is written as 109 like the numbers 109 right?
|Peter: Yep the numbers.
|Chigusa: If you read it in Japanese, it’s Tokyu 10 is read as とお and 9 is read as きゅう too.
|Peter: I didn’t even put that together. Wow!
|Chigusa: Well so 109 is a branch from Tokyu department store.
|Peter: Is it?
|Chigusa: Yeah it is.
|Chigusa: はい。 Do you get it like the number 10.
|Chigusa: It’s とお in Japanese and the number 9 is きゅう。
|Chigusa: It’s Tokyu.
|Peter: How slick of them using – I see…
|Peter: Using Arabic numbers as kanji.
|Peter: How crafty!
|Chigusa: And they have Tokyu hands if you ever heard of it.
|Peter: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
|Chigusa: It’s a really big store where they sell
|Peter: Stuff for hobbies.
|Chigusa: Yeah hobbies like they have furniture, stationeries…
|Peter: And also like when I go shopping for my Halloween costume, I go to…
|Chigusa: Yeah they have costumes and like party, party stuff.
|Peter: So seasonal stuff, party stuff
|Peter: Stuff for your house, stuff for hobbies.
|Peter: They really cover everything.
|Chigusa: Yeah. It’s really interesting but that’s called Tokyu hands and it’s another branch of Tokyu department store and another big branch is called Seibu department store.
|Peter: And that’s part of Tokyu too?
|Chigusa: No, no it’s…
|Peter: Oh don’t scare me. I thought – I was like…
|Chigusa: It’s a different. Yeah.
|Chigusa: Tokyu and Seibu are rivals.
|Chigusa: They are the biggest rivals in Shibuya and Seibu department store has a lot of branches too.
|Peter: Now it’s all coming together. It’s very interesting. So for a game plan, if you have some time in Tokyo, you can go to Shibuya about 8 o’ clock, walk through Hachiko square. See, listen to the music, dance a bit. Someone is definitely playing. Last time, I think they were playing Reggae music.
|Peter: And then a few feet away, they were playing rock music. All kinds of music. Cross of the intersection, check out 109, then hit the clubs, stay out till 6 or 7, go to the Starbucks. They have a really big Starbucks there too…
|Peter: And then you are ready for shopping.
|Peter: All day.
|Chigusa: All day.
|Peter: All right. Shibuya, all right. I think that’s going to cover it for our coverage of Shibuya this week. What do you think?
|Chigusa: Yeah I think that sums it up.
|Peter: Now out of five Chigusa stars, how many stars do you give Shibuya?
|Chigusa: Four and a half.
|Peter: Four and a half?
|Peter: All right. I can’t wait to see what your five is.
|Chigusa: Because on the other half, Shibuya is really, really crowded. So for people who don’t like really crowded areas, they might get a little claustrophobic but its people who like a lot of people or getting surrounded by a lot of people. Of course I will give that five.
|Peter: Now see that’s very thoughtful of you. You really covered all the basics. Well very impressed. Okay so that’s going to do it.
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