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.
Laduree!! W and I were drooling as reading through your entries, and wondering how you can find time to update while traveling. We are in our last stop here in Cambodia visiting the temples in the next few days. Bon Voyage!
Again very nice photos. I was a little disappointed that you didn’t capture any of the “style makers”. The thing that struck me was how clean everything looked. Looks like you are having fun.
wow…nice pictures and adventures ya!!anyway bet both you and tawn would love hakone =p
almost feel like I was there, great post. I remembered shopping in Ginza, my impression was $$$$$. 🙂
Japanese fashion is crazy, most of the designers are highly influenced by what’s hot in Japan because they are always a step or two ahead!
Did you go there for a wedding or did you run into one?
@curry69curry – Finding the time to post while traveling means no facebook and no reading of my subscriptions. A harsh trade-off… Enjoy the rest of your trip.
@Wangium – Ran into several but were not there for that purpose.
@Dezinerdreams – And it just seems to get crazier, judging from some of the fashions I saw.
@stevew918 – Glad you felt like you were along for the ride. Wish you had been there with us. Then you could have helped pick me up after I fainted when reading price tags.
@murisopsis – I would have run out of memory in my computer if I had taken pictures of all the style makers! LOL
@lcfu – Hakone was very nice although we couldn’t see Mt Fuji since it was overcast.
yeah that burger does look pretty good!
Um…okay. I give. What does “Ship Jet Blue” actually sell? Ships, Jets, or um…Blues?
Ooo, I love the pictures. I had heard of Harajuku before but I don’t think I had seen any pictures before. It looks like it would be a really fun place to just wander about.
@ac325i – Clothing, mostly Eddie Bauer in style.@TheCheshireGrins – Yes, other than the crowds (I’m not a crowd person) it was very interesting to explore.@yang1815 – Sadly, we had just eaten and so didn’t have the appetite to try, tempting though it was. Also, there was no Mo’s Milkshake Van nearby…
@christao408 – But wouldn’t you be able to evaluate the burger better when you’re not hungry? 😀
I wonder what those guys were counting? I’m also impressed that you’ve found time to keep your blog updated. You deserve a medal.
Were the macaroons good? EVery person and everything in your photographs looks so charged with energy. Beautiful pictures.
It’s probably a good time to be out of Thailand right now. Enjoy!
@yang1815 – Evaluate? Yes. Digest? No.
@ElusiveWords – Your being impressed in all the reward I need, Matt. (blush) LOL I think they are counting demographics, but who knows what particular things they are looking for.
@CareyGLY – Are you kidding?! We missed all the excitement. And we’re actually back now – there’s about a 3-day delay on my posts.
@ZSA_MD – They were alright, with a creamier center than I’ve had before. But to me, most macarons are too sweet. There are some I had at the Ferry Building in SF that really struck the right balance – flavorful but not too sweet.
@christao408 – pepto bismo! 😀