Up the stairs next to the big green and white hand logo, into a most curious shop.
I'd heard of Tokyu Hands 東急ハンズ in various places over the years, but was reminded of it again when reading William Gibson's Distrust That Particular Flavour, where he describes it as “an eight-floor DIY emporium where doing it yourself includes things like serious diamond-cutting”. It's difficult, though, to know just how many floors there are. Each is made up of sub-levels, with a couple of basements to boot. The arrangement makes it possible to visit every floor without having to use the lift, the floors staggered up in a flattened spiral.
It has a selection, carefully chosen with a certain consistency, of just about every hobby or home-related item you could imagine. From woodworking to Nanoblock ナノブロック sets, stationery supplies to lab beakers, model railway figurines to party costumes. You could spend hours — and I spent at least one on this occasion — browsing and musing.
At the top, or a sub-level thereof, is the store's restaurant. The two walls that touch the outside of the building have doors which lead on to separate small balconies, one ostensibly for sitting (not much use in the rain), the other a tiny open-air garden. I ordered a “setto” セット (a set, or combo) and tried not to be occupied by the bewildering collection of marine-themed items for sale.
Arming myself with an umbrella from a tiny shop nearby, it was hotel switch time, up along the expressway in the drizzle. A quick scan of the room, then down from the seventh floor and out, suitcase in tow as the rain maintained, over the expressway by footbridge to Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel セルリアンタワー東急ホテル. The staff were brilliant, holding my belongings for the check in at 3 PM. The wait would be rewarded with the most amazing view of Shibuya 渋谷 from the 26th floor and the room I'd call home for the rest of my time in the city. But the above photo is not of that, not by a long shot. It's the view from the top level of do-it-yourself store Tokyu Hands 東急ハンズ:
Now unencumbered by luggage and time I was back to the heart of the area and into Center Gai センター街, the main pedestrian street that feeds a maze of alleys and popular shops. Searching in the most enjoyable way – without a map – I eventually ran against a corner of the building I was searching for.