Team Tokyo: Day 2: Harajuku

I was awoken at 4.30am to the giggles of 2 girls wearing cat ears outside my coffin curtain…Nikki and Helen…back from their night out. Helen suggested (not surprisingly) that we should start the day without them and they would follow later after lunch. So at a reasonable hour later that morning, Team Tokyo minus 2 headed to Harajuku…

As it was a glorious day, Kevin, Nick, Belinda and I walked to Harajuku and were in no doubt when we hit it…and the wall of people. We braved the crowded Takeshita Dori and surrounding area to take in some of the offbeat shopping options (read: Condomania) until Helen and Nikki rejoined our group and we ventured towards Yoyogi Park.

Now Gwen Stefani songs and popular culture would have us believe that Harajuku is teaming with disgruntled youths decked out in outrageous fashion. Well either these kids took Golden Week off, we were there at the wrong time of day or the hype is overrated! There was the odd costume clad ‘cosplay’ teen but in all honesty I have seen crazier sights in Soho on a Saturday night…

Not discouraged by the lack of cosplay kids, Nikki picked up some ‘free hugs’ from strangers heading into the park and even pimped herself out to the general public for while (pleasing the locals immensely). Having had her fill of hugs for the day, we then made our way into the heart of Yoyogi Park to see a different kind of Japanese spectacle: Meiji Shrine. I have seen my fair share of Japanese temples, but even now I still enjoy the sense of peace that comes from the rituals performed at these sacred Japanese places of meditation and worship. The cleansing, the incense, the bells, the donations, the prayers/wishes always fill me with a sense of purpose, even though I don’t practice Buddhism. I guess it engages me on the level that all Japanese rituals do…that it is the process that counts, not the end result. The practice, not the product.

I should note here that all this peace and serenity was completely counteracted by the bet Kevin and I had made…to see who could be nice for the entire day…with Nick and Belinda as judges. We were on our best behaviour (which isn’t saying much) from 9am til 6pm and in honesty, by the end of the day I didn’t care who won the bet, I just wanted to be myself again! Those 9 hours of enforced niceness almost killed me. If I was the introspective sort I would probably think it time to address my wicked ways. But I am not. So moving on…

At this point a slightly weary Team Tokyo decided (stupidly?!) to follow their fearless leader into the shopping district of Harajuku for what can only be described as an ‘architectural witch hunt’. Remnants of my past life as an interior designer will stay with me forever, including (sadly for my fellow travellers) my love of Tadao Ando’s architecture.

So we went in search of Cat Street and an illusive Tadao Ando designed store (which I have now discovered is actually the Nike store)…which, I quote: ‘ With its prism-like exterior, clad in black, is the most recognisable building on the Harajuku Cat Street promenade, with some likening it to the stealth bomber‘. I need back up here team, did we see anything of the sort?! To steal a line from Kevin…Pro Tip: Cat Street is one of the longest streets in Harajuku and the Nike Store does not stand out as it should! The failed mission was not entirely without reward though as Cat Street had a plethora of amusing and quirky stores and we did manage to find a crepe cart: major win.

From here it was onwards and upwards to Kiddyland (under the pretence of ‘research’ for school). I was there in the hope or raising my street cred with the kids by investing in some serious stationary bling. Snoopy Town, Hello Kitty and Lego Land didn’t disappoint and I came away with a stash of goodies…including my very own little Lego Japanese man.

The evening’s activities were uneventful…dinner at Shakeys for ‘the best pizza in Tokyo’ and back to the hostel to watch the awful movie The Bounty Hunter. While the movie had little entertainment value, I derived great amusement out of Kevin falling asleep beside me. Call me childish, but as Kevin’s head drooped and his breathing became louder I could not contain my giggles and was amazed that he slept through Helen’s paparazzi camera flashes immortalising the event. I am fairly sure he would have slept through the ‘growth’ of an instant moustache too, if only someone had given me a pen…

One thought on “Team Tokyo: Day 2: Harajuku

  1. I quote: “with some likening it to the stealth bomber'….the Nike Store does not stand out as it should!”

    Isn't that the whole idea of a Stealth Bomber????

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