Harajuku & Shinjuku

Yesterday Mike and I met our Japanese friend, Taku, in Harajuku after making a quick stop at Bear Pond Espresso in Shimokitazawa.  Mike astutely observed that there were a million white people in Harajuku, and god I hope it’s not because of Gwen Stefani.  When we asked Taku about it he just said it’s a really popular tourist area.

Since it was warm (in the 60s), we walked to the Meiji shrine.  It’s actually quite a walk from the station, across a bridge where the infamous Harajuku dressers usually line up.  There weren’t many that day, but I’ll be sure to get some photos when they’re out in full swarm.  Interestingly enough, we did see a television crew speaking with a group of amputees in elaborate outfits.  I thought that was pretty cool.

We made our way to the shrine, and, as is customary, washed our hands before crossing the torii (the big gates at the entrance to shrines).

“I will teach you traditional Japanese culture.  You have to put your head in the water to wash it,” Taku told us.  He’s a real prankster.

While walking around a bit, Taku asked me again why American women love tanning when I pointed out a slightly orange woman to him.  If you have any ideas, please comment because I’m running out of explanations for him.

On the way out of the shrine we saw a few weeabos (white people who want to be Asian so hard it hurts to look at them.  You know… nerdy but not in an endearing way… just a mess).  We’ve tried explaining that to Taku, too, but it gets kind of difficult.  Most of the time we can rattle on in English and no one understands us (Taku is a fan of asking, “What the fuck is this?” because, like anyone who learns a new language, he loves saying all the bad words).  We can’t really trash talk about people we’re standing right next to when it’s a good chance they understand us, so it’s not really easy to point them out to him.  I have a feeling if he saw the weeabos he’d understand.

Taku wanted to go shopping and we were more than happy to oblige since we dragged him around Tokyo last weekend.  Before heading into H&M we stopped to get the ever-present Japanese street snack: a crepe filled with ice cream, whipped cream, and fruit (if you want it).  They were so damn delicious I didn’t even think to take a photo because of how much I was enjoying myself.

I tried on two dresses which, since it’s H&M, fit pretty weird, but bought a bitchin’ skirt that I’ll be sure to post a photo when I wear it eventually.  The warm weather keeps punking us.  It snowed a bit today, so it’s not really skirt weather =/

Mike bought an awesome coat, but Taku didn’t find anything so we trudged on.  Feeling hunger pangs in our head, we stopped off ate something called a doner (which I only know as a shawarma back home) served up by a Turkish fella in a truck.  It was freakin’ awesome.
Taku finally found a store that interested him, Fred Perry.  I’d never head of it before, but think of anything you’ve ever seen the British royal family wear – that was the style.  We were pretty surprised Taku liked it.  We tried to explain to him why a lot of people our age, or people who don’t like to look like complete dicks, don’t walk around in lobster-print chinos and have a plethora of red, white, and blue cardigans.  Mike gave him a very short history of imperialism peppered with my explanation of some white people’s obsession with showing off that they have money.

Then something strange happened.  After trying on a few things and paying, a woman bagged up the jacket Taku had been wearing along with his purchase.  He then turned and walked out of the store.  The woman followed suit – across the store and to the door with Taku’s bag while he walked along in front, neither of them speaking.

The night was wearing on and my feet were getting weary, so our tired company agreed to quit Harajuku and move on to Shinjuku.There we walked around a bit more.  Taku went to a ridiculously fancy men’s shop – a woman posted at the front desk for information, 10 attendants to each small shop: jewelry, bags, cologne, hair products, body products, cuff links, hats.  I opted to take a rest outside and sat for a while with Mike.

We regrouped, and in want of further nourishment and dessert tried out a shop called Ducky Duck, a tea/dessert house that also serves food.  Everything about the place was so freakin’ cute… the girls eating there, the menus, the pastries, how they serve the tea.  It was awesome, and a very well-enjoyed rest.

After that, we made the long trek back to Oyama.


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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