There’s always something to do in Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhood, whether it’s chasing the New Year discounts in shopping malls, going to art exhibits, or enjoying the winter illuminations at Tokyu Plaza’s rooftop garden in Harajuku. But sadly, we also have to say goodbye to some places like Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku (closing this month) and come to terms with the fact that the old Harajuku station building was demolished — or that the cool transparent toilets near Yoyogi park were made permanently opaque. However, there are still quite a few new things in Shibuya and its surrounding areas to be excited about. Here are some of them.
This cyber bonsai terrarium is in fact an art installation that is the intersection of horticulture, technology and design. ‘Paludarium’ is a mini greenhouse concept dating from 19th century England, which these artists have modernized and exhibited at StandBy on Cat Street, Harajuku. The project is by avant-garde flower designer Azuma Makoto and botanical photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki, both part of the AMKK art collective. The installation is partly open-air and free.
When: Until Jan 31, 2021 | 10:00 – 19:00
The d47 Museum on the 8th floor of Shibuya Hikarie regularly showcases works from all 47 prefectures of Japan, focusing on arts and crafts drawing both on traditional and futuristic design. Their “Long Life Design Exhibition” is a biannual series that selects works from all prefectures centered around a theme. The 2018 theme was ‘healthy design,’ while the current theme is ‘prayer design.’
When: Until Feb 22, 2021 (closed on Wednesdays) | 12:00 to 20:00 (19:00 last entrance)
Artist Kim Songhe creates whimsical over-the-top chandeliers, almost grotesque accumulations of toys that you can’t stop looking at. She has collaborated with numerous companies, artists, and photographers over the years, most notably creating art featuring Star Wars and Snoopy toys. Her “heaven – HEAVEN” exhibition in PARCO MUSEUM 4F will mark the artist’s 15-year anniversary and showcase new works, as well as accept toy donations from visitors which Kim Songhe will use in future works.
When: Feb 7 to Feb 22, 2021
Food and Drinks
When it comes to Japan’s appetite for all things Alice in Wonderland, it’s insatiable. Afternoon tea spreads and whole restaurants have sprung around this Alice aesthetic, and now there’s one more. Drawing on the Disney iteration of Lewis Carol’s story, “Oh My Cafe” will serve a Wonderland feast from February 5 until April 18, 2021. Tasty and cute as ever, their food is also aiming to cut on sodium, sugar and carbs for a healthier treat. White rabbit bagels, Tweedledee and Tweedledum sandwiches, rose garden pasta, and whimsical drinks are on offer, as well as Alice in Wonderland merchandise. “Oh My Cafe” hosts limited-edition official Disney, Pixar, Star Wars-approved menus and sells merchandise.
When: Feb 5 – Apr 18, 2021 | Reservation only
Strawberries, Chocolate, & Valentine’s
January is considered the strawberry season in Japan, which then plays well with the February Valentine theme that follows. Hence, most seasonal afternoon teas showcase strawberries and chocolate. Shibuya Tokyu Plaza rooftop restaurant Ce La Vie offers one such afternoon tea set – a mix of strawberry desserts and savory bites such as wagyu and foie gras.
For a limited time this month from January 21 to February 3, Shibuya Scramble Square will host the Kaito chocolatier pop up store, where you can also find limited-edition colorful floral macarons and strawberry buttercream sandwich cookies in Beillevaire available until February 14.
At Shibuya Hikarie, this season is all about having your flowers and eating them too. Cafes and restaurants on the 6th, 7th and 11th floors participate in this ‘Bloom Gourmet’ until February 7, 2021, offering various dishes enhanced with edible flowers, from strawberry shaved ice to sushi and Korean makgeolli.
Cerulean Tower’s Bellovisto restaurant is offering a special champagne and chocolate pairing menu for Valentine’s Day 2021, starting February 1.
If you thought love and horror don’t go together, you haven’t seen enough movies. From February 7 to March 8, “Space J” in Shibuya will offer the mystery-solving love horror game “Valentine of Light and Darkness – Escape from the Mysterious Ruins.” Game participants will be guided by the voices of popular Japanese voice actors Soma Saito and Nobuhiko Okamoto. Participants can also apply for a very special White Day event on March 15, the lucky winners having the chance to meet the voice actors in person, and those with the highest game scores getting VIP seats.
When: Feb 7 – Mar 8, 2021
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Some early sakura varieties bloom in February, heralding spring together with plum blossoms. Along the river promenade in Shibuya Stream is one of the best urban Tokyo spots to see them bloom by day and illuminated by night. There will also be kotatsu tables available for those who want to linger but stay warm.
Shibuya Stream has an Instagram contest for those who visit and snap a photo of the blossoms. Use the hashtag #渋谷リバーストリート河津桜 (#Shibuya Riverstreet Kawazakura) to be discovered and win some of their tempting prizes. Both the contest and the sakura festival will be open between February 11 and February 21, 2021.
When: Feb 11 – Feb 21, 2021
Know of anything exciting coming up in Shibuya soon? Anything to add to the list? Send us tips at [email protected]
Here’s what else new in other parts of Tokyo and Yokohama: