We started Sunday morning at a reasonable hour, leaving our hotel (pictured above) and heading to the Ueno-Oichimachi station.
Still craving those wonderful strawberries, we stopped back by the greengrocer’s next to the station, admiring the wide range of strange produce and fish products before buying another pint of berries.
We took the train to the Harajuku district. First stop: Meiji Shrine, the grandest Shinto shrine, rebuilt in authentic fashion in 1958 after the original was destroyed in the Second World War. If we had been wondering where all the tourists were, we finally found them on the pebble path leading from the railway station to the shrine. “Crunch, crunch, crunch” went the pebbles as they were trod upon by hundreds of dazed and confused tourists.
The shrine itself was beautiful but we couldn’t really appreciate it with the crowds. Not just the tourists but the string of wedding parties that had booked space at the shrine. We saw two in the short while we were there and I imagine more were to come.
If Shibuya is the scene for young Tokyoite’s trendy fashion, Harajuku is where the cutting edge of fashion is located. Known for its “cos-play” (costume play) young people who dress up in bizarrely elaborate outfits on the bridge crossing the railway tracks, this area is where all sorts of hipsters create their own new looks.
The main, tree-lined street doesn’t give a hint of the truly groundbreaking fashion the neighborhood is known for. While very crowded, the main street is lined with shops that would look at home in any major city around the world. Above, on a major intersection in Harajuku you find a Gap store.
And if that isn’t high-end enough for you, there’s always the beautiful, paper lantern like Christian Dior store.
Along this street you will find small groups of men in suits, sitting on folding chairs and holding counters in their hands. Who knows what sorts of demographic data they are gathering?
The real fashion is found off the main street, in a warren of alleys that are home to cool shops and small boutiques with names like Come Together, Ill Store and Junk Yard.
Along these streets we found an interesting place for a distinctly American snack: Munch’s Burger, a mobile hamburger stand. The grill (and griller) are in the back of the van.
Nope, we weren’t hungry so didn’t try them. The burger looked good, though.
One store that caught my attention – I think my cousin who works for the airline will love this – is Ships Jet Blue.
After an hour or two of wandering around we continued to another shopping area, Ginza. This is the original home of haute couture in Tokyo and is still the major shopping district. Every big name has a store or three here, along with outlets of the major Japanese department stores.
On one side street there is a playful sculpture of Cupid peeking around the corner and down the alley. Who knows where next he will spy love?
Inside the Mitsukoshi department store is the only Tokyo outlet of La Duree, the fine Parisian patisserie. We stopped by to buy some macarons.
As sun set, I took the opportunity to snap a few more photos of this neon-charged city.