On Day Four, I woke up with my new ritual: heading out to the lobby for breakfast with my Ryokan family. Mar-san cooked "Cinnamon Set" French toast, Ken (who speaks English at the level I speak Japanese) would fumble with the coffee maker, Angela chirped about my Anime Purchases, and Yuki or Toshiko would take care of the new guests. I grabbed a copy of The Japan Times and enjoyed the lobby noise before rocketing off to Harajuku.
The train ride to Harajuku is a long one; it’s on the opposite side of Tokyo from Minowa. I got a seat and then gave it up to an elderly couple, and stood for the next 40 minutes. As the ride dragged on, the metro began to fill with more and more great fashion choices. Beside me was a kid with grey denim jeans cut into shorts on one leg. A girl with heavy red mascara and red-tipped bangs stood next to a poser carrying a guitar on his shoulders. Three girls stepped on in torn up black-dyed sailor uniforms.
I was going to love Harajuku.
Off the train, I took a walking tour through the Gothic-Lolita-Cosplay shopping streets of Harajuku. Even the buildings were dressed up.
Boys wore girls clothing, and girls wore everything else. It was fantastic.
Now, back in Holland, I’d been searching for a small, feminine lab coat to wear around Amsterdam, something I could dress up and turn into a white jacket. Here in Harajuku, I found a pseudo-labcoat made of linen, with an X-shaped crest on the breast and ribbons on the cuffs. It was perfect! I bought it from the same store that had a Britney Spears-Style newsies cap with cat ears sewn into the dome.
Harajuku isn’t just Clark-and-Belmont style stores. Mixed in with the ultra-hip cutting edge designers are traditionalist like Gucci and Prada. For those in LA, it’s as if Beverly Hills emptied into Melrose, and ended in a beautiful nature preserve and temple.
The stores felt edited together with the speed of a music video.
After a couple hours in heaven, I grabbed some sushi and helped tourists with Japanese menu.
For desert, I found an Art-Nuevo café and had Strawberry Cake, because that’s what Sailor Moon would have eaten on a sunny day. I circled up to the top of some Cell Phone Skyscraper, checked my email, and walked through the alleys to find more clothes that will have to wait till the next trip.
It became more and more difficult to take pictures. Everything was so pleasant and charming that I didn’t know what to focus on. My last excursion was into a huge Toy Store. They carried everything from Final Fantasy Jewelry to Life-Size Totoro Beds. It was here that I receieved my first moment of Culture Shock. The Japanese ... Loved ... Stitch. Almost an entire floor was dedicated to this nearly-forgotten movie. They really loved Stitch ... and the Aristocats.