Friday, 4 April 2008

Oki-na Gaijin, Chisai-na Kuni (Big Foreigner, Small Country) #4

March 23 - Shibuya and Harajuku

Today started a little late. I didn’t really get up until nine and rang up Yoichi at 10.

Staying with someone certainly changes your travel experience. On one hand, you don’t have the freedom to just go whenever you want. On the flip side, there are opportunities that the average tourist would never have.

We hung out and drank coffee until about noon and then headed toward Kinshicho station. This transportation hub has changed quite a lot in 23 years. There is a new subway line going through the station as well as a couple of different train lines so it is very busy. Yoichi and I had a coffee while Keiko went to the Loto place and placed about 100 ¥100 bets. This is a common event on Sundays.

We eventually got on the subway (Hanzomon Line) and went to Omote Sando. . We had lunch at the Spiral Building, so named for its spiral staircase. After the queasiness of last night, the tomato and rice dish was very settling.

We then walked towards Harajuku. The big draw is the show of rebellious teens who dress up in a variety of costumes on the weekend. Some dress up in weird Bo-Peep costumes, others in frilly dresses, others as goths and other strange outfits. And yes, sometimes it’s boys dressing up in the frilly outfits.

There’s also a narrow, long shopping street called Takeshita-dori which was a sea of people - tourists, shoppers and costume play (Cos-Play) teens. Very festive and busy.

The most Cos-Plays on display were outside Harajuku train station and were quite happy to be photographed. Interestingly, there were a few gaijin dressed up in the mix.

We then walked towards Shibuya past all sorts of very fancy stores (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc.) that I don’t really care about but are very popular in Japan. We ended up at a gigantic scramble crosswalk in Shibuya - I had to cross it twice - and then headed back for home.

Back in Kinshicho, Yoichi decided that his feet hurt so we all ended up at the massage clinic for a shiatsu body massage. After putting on little Japanese pajamas, the massage guy worked me over for an hour, asking (in Japanese) if I was OK after each excruciating move. But I always said that I did because it felt so good after.

Afterwards, we went to little restaurant near the station which had a nice variety of food. I had the chriasi sushi with is a bowl of rice with a bunch of fish and other stuff on top. It was very good but one of the oshinko - pickled vegetables - that I had - a daikon dyed yellow - was absolutely hideous. Luckily the two big beers I had helped eradicate the bad taste.

After a great dinner and the massage, we were all pretty tired. I watched Bull Durham in Yoichi’s apartment and then retired to bed for my best sleep thus far.


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Heinz & Frenchie said...

Your are living the life of a king there. Amazing that you came back! We are just getting caught up on our blog reading so we are a bit behind.

Dave Dixon said...

I'm glad you are enjoying my blog!

heinz and frenchie
It was a bit down to earth coming back but, hey, there's no place like home!