Monday, September 3, 2007

Shinjuku and Harajuku:The Return.

Yesterday, I went back to Shinjuku and Harajuku. Shinjuku is the only place in Tokyo that I've been to more than twice that's not on my school route. I didn't especially want to go back, but I needed to pick up my new glasses, as the place had closed by the time I found them on Saturday. Thanks to the lovely technology of me taking a picture of myself with my phone and mailing it to my friend's phone, I met a friend in Shinjuku station (Read my other post for more facts on this). We got together and off we went.
I don't think I understand Shinjuku. It's really seedy and really nice at the same time. It's very down-to-earth for the common person yet incredibly classy at the same time. Parts of it remind me of what a city in the year 2050 would look like and parts seem like they haven't changed much in 100 years. It's an odd place.

Anyways, we went to this area called Kabukicho, which was apparently named after a Kabuki theater they never built. It was far from the nicest place I'd been to in Japan, but it was pretty exciting and interesting. I'm not quite sure where Shinjuku started and Kabukicho ended or even if they were the same area, but I took some pictures.

Just some typical tall buildings.

I think it's fascinating how they can have a building and each floor is a different shop or restaurant or whatever. They even have a few that I've seen where only a few floors to the top are a store. What's in the rest of them?

I liked this sign, though.

Yes you are right Mr. Fish wearing a top hat. All roads DO lead to "DVD".

After a nice cup of blood orange smoothie like beverage, we headed to Harajuku. But my friend suggested we take a better way back to Shinjuku station, the underground walkway.

Calling this an "underground walkway" would be like calling New York a "Mid sized city". This place was unfathomably big, and it kept going in seemingly every direction. There were literally hundreds of shops in this sprawling city under a city. I mean, I saw the same thing in Osaka, but not to this extent. It was like a perpetual chasm of shops and restaurants, like something out of a sci-fi novel, except in real life. It wasn't what it looked like that was amazing. Hell, it could have been a mall in Dayton, Ohio, but the sheer size of it was perplexing. How can there be two equal but separate cities existing a few feet away from each other? It was so incredibly huge, and it all connected to Shinjuku station. It was also very clean, quiet, and not so crowded, as opposed to the street above which was the exact opposite. I'm now convinced someone could live a full, rich life without ever going outside Shinjuku station.

Well, enough of Shinjuku, let's go to Harajuku again. Unlike my last visit, I went with someone who knows the area and enjoys spending time here.

I know there is a big park and I got there too late last time to check it out, so I wanted to do that first. It was quite amazing.

Sure, it's no Kyoto, but it was still quite awe-inspiring. The weather and my camera skills (plus lack of a tripod) didn't exactly make for the best combination of picture taking, so most of the impressive pictures were pretty blurry and grey, but it's okay because I know where it is now.
There's really nothing recognizable to show how incredibly huge this drum was:

But, believe me, it was huge!.
There were also tons of foreign tourists. Anyways, this was a side quest worth taking again, but that wasn't the best day to take it, I think. I should wait for clear skies.

I went to that place in Harajuku hoping to talk to someone, but everyone seemed to either be busy talking to each other or taking pictures with the tourists. I did manage to exchange a few words with this fine lady:

She almost seemed perplexed and shocked that someone wanted to TALK to her, not just take her picture. I have a strong desire to do an interview with these people, but I guess I'll have to wait.
Like I said before, when I went to Harajuku, I felt like I missed something. Like I just went to the wrong place completely.

Now THIS is more like what I was expecting! Lots of people, great signs, interesting looking shops, and all around mayhem.

I didn't quite understand the balloon mermaid, but it was really well done and quite amazing.

I remember seeing these lamp posts in Jet Set Radio Future (Or Jet Grind Radio). That's still the one form of media that I feel accurately portrays city life in Japan the best.

What's next to these lamps?

Is that a Simpsons reference?

I've been good about not overloading my posts with Engrish, but I really liked this one:

Not only is it the word Soxer, which in theory makes sense (sock shop=soxer much like there's a hatter or butcher or baker), but just doesn't come off as coherent at all. AND with beautiful smiling! Amazing.

More shots of the same street.

And there's a Harajuku street? Well, apparently there is.

My friend took me to her favorite shop in Harajuku and I must admit, it was pretty cool. They had a lot of used American clothes plus some new stuff and stuff from around the world.

After some shopping, we went out to dinner at this lovely place, which is apparently a chain restaurant but very Japanese style and really good.

By the time we found the restaurant, we were quite a bit a ways from Harajuku station, so we just kept walking. After a while, I looked up and realized where I was:

Shibuya crossing. The busiest intersection in the world. I had no idea it was that close to Harajuku.

Well, it was a lovely day and I saw and felt so many wonderful things, it's hard to sum them up in mere words and pictures.


moonlight-blue11 said...

Shinjuku station is TEN times as complex as Umeda station in Osaka... Really, I can easily go astray EVEN in Umeda, how could I find a right way without a map in Tokyo?? Ugh, I need to, i need to improve my sense of direction.

Good to hear that you're enjoying your new life in - Tokyo!

megamoth said...

Holy crap Mighty Soxer with Beautiful Smiling Face!!! I got socks there! Those signs are crazy. That's the street with Yellow House!! Can you see if you can spot it sometime?
Did you see any shrine girls with red hakama at Meiji Jingu? Ahh, this brings back memories...