20100411 sunday [tokyo]
Flickr link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fractos/sets/72157623830737736/
I've always really wanted to go to Harajuku. It's the Mecca of Japanese teen fashion and all sorts of nonsense abides there. The main street, the Takeshite-dora, is plagued by stalls and shops and a million billion people bustling along it's narrow length. The shops lead the fashion which leads the kids which leads the shops ... Anyone who knows a bit about feedback loops will start to get misty eyed at this point. It's a mental place. So after a quick tour of that I went towards Yoyogi Park nearby. So many people there, some cos-players, a load of rockabillys, one sporting the tallest quiff I have ever even heard of.
meeting up with stuart and anna again
I still hadn't bought a gift or anything so I started to head back to the shops, and bumped into Stuart and Anna again, who were both really hungover but pleased to see me. We chilled out in the park for a while, seeing a man with a monkey, a woman walking her turtle (honest), blimps, a bunch of boys who were practicing their dancing like they were the next big JPop thing, really silly outfits, a guy doing contact juggling which was 50% good 50% dropsy, multiple dogs which were amazing and fun to be around (there was some kind of club meeting for owners of huskies and these particularly fluffy Akita-like (apart from the tail) creatures with the biggest paws I have ever seen. The park is lovely, really enjoyed being there. Again there were sakura parties going on but also just people and families out enjoying themselves. Lovely place. I said my goodbyes to Stuart and Anna as they were going to go in search of the shrine in the other half of the park and I wanted to hit the shops again. I duly found a gift for my friend Jodi and headed off in search of the Design Festa Gallery that I had heard about from Zoe and also that I had seen advertised back at the hostel.
trying to find design festa gallery and going round the omotesando hills - stupidly long vocal battle audition queue, really expensive shops, wedding
I completely failed to find the gallery and decicded to just keep on walking. As it is I ended up walking around and through Omotesando Hills district, which looked really expensive for buying stuff, with various names like Dior, Chanel, with their own massive shops. There was a wedding going on at one of the temples next to a very swish place called Anniversaire. Next to that, there was a queue of boys, after which there was a queue of boys, then a queue of boys, and so forth for a good 4-5 minutes walk. At the end, I saw a guy who was on the staff of the event with a card saying that it was the Audition for some kind of Vocal Battle. I couldn't believe how long the queue was. It was nearly half a mile and remarkably well behaved. I can't imagine how long it would take for someone to eventually get called up for audition. Hours, maybe. Maybe they're still there!
down through harajuku street again and the nice bit of shops at the bottom
I eventually got back to the start of Takeshite-dori and I went on another explore down the street, checking out the side streets and the various other stalls. I got to the bottom of it and then went along Harajuku Street (not sure if that's what it is really called) which had a different vibe to the crash of colours and all the kids on Takashite-dori. There were more serious clothes shops and interesting looking places, and more space. Lots more space. Quite liked that end. I guess that's the bit which the guide book referred to as the hip-hop scene area. So, went around there for a bit, took some photos, then back up Takeshite-dori a final time just for the hell of it. Stopped for a cigarette on a side street (since that's the done thing) and found myself opposite a tea room called Christie :) I stopped in there and had pretty much the best roast chicken sandwich I have ever had. Well done, Christie. You're a credit to the name :) The proprietor was quite amused when I said I was Christie and showed him my passport. Anyway, that was a good time to finish checking out Harajuku and so I got back on the crowded train towards Shinjuku as it was the closer side of the Yamanote line circle back to Ueno Park.
shinjuku, getting assaulted by religious types
I decided to stop in Shinjuku and check it out, since I'd not, somehow, done that yet. Fuck me, that's a mental, busy, ridiculous place. The station is unbelievably huge and confusing, and then you find yourself outside in Takashimaya Times Square which is a lot like standing outside Shibuya station, but, somehow, a hell of a lot busier even on a Sunday night! Frankly, it was too hectic and intense, so I sat down for a drink at a starbucks for a while and chilled out to some tunes, watching 6pm tick over and the crush of people move past. Meantime, a really strong wind had started up. There's definitely a massive pressure drop happening so I suspect tomorrow there is going to be some pretty heavy rain :( This kind of fucks up my plan of going to Nikko quite badly, unless I bring Scuba gear.
remembering to get accomodation in nagoya, kyoto
This is just a note to myself to remember to book accomodation for Nagoya and Kyoto over the next few days. If I don't write about sorting this out, sort me out. Please? Thanks.