Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tokyo: Shibuya – Crossings, craft beer, cats and cooking our own dinner

A quiet Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
The Shibuya district of Tokyo is the main business and shopping area, famous – or is that infamous -for its pedestrian crossing. The crossing is the kind that has now been introduced in some parts of the UK, such as Oxford Circus, where all vehicles are stopped, allowing people to cross in all directions at once, including diagonally.

It is known for being incredibly busy, with hundreds of people crossing at one time. That may be the case in peak hours, but we couldn’t be bothered to get up that early, so it wasn’t too bad when we were there.

Shibuya, Tokyo
The retail area is quite crowded and we weren't interested in shopping, but the thing that did catch our eye was the pet shop, which had various puppies and kittens for sale. The shop was certainly gathering a lot of interest, but what amazed us were the prices. We had to double check our exchange rate calculations, as we were stunned how much was being asked for, what seemed to me, to be mostly non-pedigree cats; we were looking at hundreds of pounds.

Cat café, Tokyo
Talking of cats, we decided to try out one of the cat cafes. There were a good few cats around, and they all seemed healthy and reasonably happy, but they weren't especially friendly. I don't know if we caught them at an off time, but they weren't too keen on playing or interacting that much.

Cat café, Tokyo
We were a bit confused by the Japanese visitors approach to the cats though; instead of stroking them, they would pat them, which didn't generally go down too well. They had plenty of  out of re way spaces to escape to if they wished, and some nice comfortable beds. Of course being cats, they didn't necessarily use those, and one had decided to squish itself into a little birdcage.

One part of Tokyo that I would definitely recommend for poking around, is the area around Ebisu and Daikanyama. Both have nice little shops and good places to eat and drink. There is a disused railway line in Daikanyama, called Log Road, which has a few shops that were a bit disappointing - others in the area were better - and is home to the Spring Valley Brewery.

The brewery is run by Kirin, but has a more interesting range of beers, and it looked like a really nice place to sit and eat and try their beer flight. Unfortunately the day we went turned out to be beautifully sunny, so the wait to get in wasn't something we wanted to bother with. But there were plenty of other places not far away.

Okusa Oumi-tei, Ebisu, Tokyo

One of our favourite restaurants in Tokyo was a chance find in Ebisu. It is called Okuza Oumi-tei, and is a yakiniku place where you order your own selection of meat and cook it on a mini barbeque at your table.

We went to a few of this, but this one was excellent. There was a great selection of meats, from fillet of beef to tongue, and it was really good quality. Very tasty and highly recommended.

Okusa Oumi-tei, Ebisu, Tokyo
Okusa Oumi-tei, Ebisu, Tokyo

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