Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last weekend

Last weekend was a complete blast. I had fun pretty much nonstop from Friday night until Monday night, as it was a holiday.

On Friday night, I met up with my friend's sister. She doesn't speak English well and my Japanese skill is low, so it was a bit challenging to talk to her, but it was a lot of fun! I truly had a great time with her, and I hope to see her soon.

We both met up with a friend of a friend of mine. He is someone who I've never met, but I've talked to a lot. He used to go to school in my hometown and became good friends with a friend of mine, and he's a super cool person. He also had 2 friends with him, so the 5 of us were having a great time all night.

Saturday was the Polysics show and I already wrote about that. The video I shot didn't seem to get used on the website, which is probably a good thing.

On Sunday my good friend from Osaka came into town. That's when the real exploration began. I showed my friend my dorm room and then we went off to Harajuku because there was somewhere she wanted to go, so off we went.

After exploring the main drag and seeing the interesting people, we decided to stop off for a crepe. There are a ton of crepe shops in Harajuku. They just love them here. And they are so good too.
The crepes we got were served to us by the happiest employees I've ever seen.

This picture doesn't show it well, but they were all smiles. They were laughing with eachother and the customers, making jokes, and it seemed they were genuinely enjoying themselves.

After we ate our delicious crepes, we kept walking and on the main street, we saw another random festival.

It seems like there are a lot of these here. Maybe it's just my imagination. Anyways, that's not what we came here to see.

We walked down this street and saw some really interesting stuff, but then we got to this one main street called Omotosando Street that went from bizarre to ritzy really fast. After walking up this hill, we saw this mall called, appropriately enough, Omotosando Hills. It was quite fancy.

There was this giant rotating speaker that made bird chirping and water running sounds, so at any point, if you closed your eyes you'd think you were outdoors. Also, it had no real floors, and just casually sloped down around the mall. It was apparently designed by some famous architect. It was really quite classy.

Near the exit, I saw a girl doing a photo shoot in front of a car.

You can't really see it in the picture, but there's a guy with a professional camera and a girl with a giant silver thing to reflect light. There was also a guy with a video camera and what looked like a security guy. It was pretty random.

So, after we were done, we saw the crazy dressed Harajuku people and went to Shibuya. Shibuya and Harajuku are about a 10 minute walk from eachother. I pretty much new the way, but I decided to take a different route. I'm glad I did.

I had heard about these Japanese rockers who dressed all 50's like and just kind of danced in a park, and now I found them.

About a 2 minute walk from the Harajuku people, they were just hanging out strutting their stuff. This one guy had the highest hair I'd ever seen.

But, he was talking to some people and wasn't anxious to turn around, and since I have better things to do than wait for a guy with crazy hair to turn around, we walked over a pedestrian bridge and were greeted with...

A Laos festival? That's kind of random. There were also a bunch of high school aged girls selling clothes and accessories. It was quite strange.

So, after acquiring some Laos food, I heard this sound come from a nearby stage.

Huh? Power rangers? Well, that's odd. Wait... No... THAT is odd:

Well, it was just some live action thing for the kiddies I assume. I didn't stick around to watch it, but the evil witch was hot.

I don't know what any of this had to do with Laos, but whatever.

So, we kept walking to Shinjuku. The architecture is great around there.

Once we got to Shinjuku, I saw yet another random festival. This time it was just setting up right in front of the Louis Vuitton store.

We went and had a good time in Shibuya. Afterwards we went to Shinjuku and had some fun walking and talking. It was quite a lovely day.

After a nice night of resting, it was back to exploration on Monday. The first place we went was Asakusa.

Asakusa is most noted for a giant shrine with these giant red lanterns. There were like 3 or 4 of them, one of which was under repair. Asakusa is also a very historic district of Tokyo. It was nice to see the history, as most of Tokyo is quite modern.
There was this one major shopping street that dates back to, I don't know, but it's not new by any measure.

It was mostly souvenir shops, but there was some regular stuff too. If you wanted a samurai sword or a lantern cell phone charm, this is where you could get it. There were also all sorts of different traditional snacks and sweets.

At the end of the street, you could see the temple proper.

That smoke is incense, and apparently if you waft it around yourself, it's supposed to make you clever. It's quite popular with the school children.

The sheer size of this temple was really impressive. It was just amazing to see.

The gates with the lanterns were guarded by these people:

Asakusa also had the largest slipper I had ever seen.

It was quite an amazing place.

So, we wandered around away from the main street. It was quite crowded, and it seems that it's usually this crowded on the weekends.
But what's that in the distance?

A little tiny amusement park? That's odd.

But, that's the case. It was this tiny, old amusement park. I think it dates back to shortly after World War II.

There was also the second largest Pagoda in Japan.

The largest was in Kyoto and I saw that earlier, so I was a tad underwhelmed, but it was still really nice.

The side streets were filled with old shops and were targeted towards the older audiences. Kind of the anti-Harajuku. There was this one antique shop selling a full WWII uniform. That made me a little uncomfortable.

We went back to the main gate for a few more pictures. It sure is the popular place to take pictures.

And I saw this guy there too. He was just a tourist like everyone else, I think.

After some historic fun, we hopped a train to Ginza. I also made some phone calls and some of my friends met me there. Ginza is the super super super ritzy area in Tokyo. It was quite amazing to see.

It's the little things that make Ginza different. Like all over Tokyo you have "Doutor coffee", but in Ginza, you have "Le Cafe Doutor", because regular Doutor isn't classy enough.

Of course in Ginza you also have Louis Vuitton, Coach, Burberry, Rolex, and so many other fancy brand name shops. I'm not rich enough to shop in Ginza, but it sure was nice to visit.

We went to the Sony building, which it seems, is their world headquarters store. They had a lot of products that weren't available yet, and other Sony products that aren't normally sold in stores.

Upon walking in, they asked us to film a little cheer for the Japan National Soccer team.

It was quite fun and unexpected. Then, which was even less expected, they had a mini soccer game where we had to kick the ball into 3 goals. The first 2 were easy, but the third, you had to pop it up into the goal.

I have to give props to my Osaka friend for trying this with high heels on. I actually did worse than she did. Oops.

Anyways, we left Ginza, to go to Shinjuku where we had dinner and my Osaka friend caught a bus. It was sad to see her go, but I was quite happy that she came to visit.

It was quite a tiring weekend, but quite rewarding too. I saw lots of great things and had a great time.

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