Tag Archives: Harajuku

Long Walk into the Unknown

Exploring Idea

After having the coffee in Harajuku, I decided to explore the area. After coming out from Starbucks, I saw in the opposite side few department stores. I decided not to go inside them, instead I decided to walk a little bit and look at that ‘hidden’ area of Tokyo.

After coming out from Starbucks, instead than going back from the same way that I came from, the left and turn the corner, I decided to go right and follow my instinct. I crossed the road ignoring the department stores and kept going right. At the first big traffic light I turned left and walked along a long road.

Ginza Number 2

I could see straight away that the road I took was going to be a long one, but not that long. At first there was nothing really interesting that is worth writing in this blog. After about 10 minutes walk, on the left side of the road (my side) started appearing high end shops, the same sort of shops that I found earlier in the day at Ginza: Luis Vuitton, Armani and so on. And because I am not really into those kinds of ‘posh’ shops, I ignored them, I didn’t even take a single photo to them because I was not interested, even though I should have taken a couple just to put on this post (or page, whichever you are reading right now).

I Love the Adventure

Around half way of that road (I didn’t know at that point that I was half way through that road) I found a sign mentioning that by following that road I was going to reach Shibuya. I didn’t know about Shibuya, and looking at my train map that I had in my pocket, Shibuya was marked in bold and in bigger characters compared to those of most stations, indicating that it was one of the major areas in Tokyo.

Nearby I found a station, I really cannot remember right now the name, but it was going towards a different direction from the line that link all the major areas of Tokyo like a circle, it is similar as the Circle Line in London. Anyway,

“I was by myself in the middle of Tokyo and I couldn’t care less where I was going, the most important thing is that in which way I was going I would still find my way round and probably find places where tourists don’t go. I love the adventure.”

2nd Stop

I kept walking into the same direction, that road was actually long. After I completed 100% of that road (it took me more than 30 minutes), another sign was directing Shibuya on the right. It was another long big road, probably bigger than the other one that I just completed.

I crossed the road and went to Shibuya direction. After few minutes I had a very short break, guess what? I stopped for another cappuccino at a nearby Starbucks that was on the same side of the road where I was walking. After grabbing the coffee and leaving the coffee shop, I carried on walking.

UN Uni

I could see a large selection of restaurants on both sides of the road, the most of them were Japanese and a handful were American large chains such as Pizza Hut and so on. By that time, the sky was already getting dark and after about 30 minutes walk on the other side of the road I saw a the ‘University of the United Nations’!!! I didn’t know that the UN had universities. I learnt something new that day that is nothing to do with Japanese culture, but about the world security or safety or whatever you want to call it.

Reaching the Destination

Not far from the University of the United Nations the road started to divide in 2. Following my sense of orientation I kept walking on my side of the road rather than crossing the road and following the other path. The road soon after crossed with another one that if I was going left the road was going up-hill, however, I decided to go down-hill and few minutes later I reached the final destination: Shibuya Station. Yeahhhh!!!!!!!

Shibuya: The Busiest Crossing In The World

Light inside the tunnel
After the long walk I almost felt exhausted, however, my feelings were still exiting because I had reached another destination, another place where I could visit for the first time, a new adventure where I could tell the other people about. I managed to get there without asking anybody for any direction, just my common sense, sense of direction (if I have got any, but I think I have some) and the train map that has got nothing to do with the road map.
I knew that I had arrived at the destination because there was a sign that was pointing at the entrance of Shibuya station. I entered a stair case inside a building, went up the stairs and the first thing that I noticed was that there was the entrance of a shopping centre. There were different shops and an escalator that was going to the floors below.
Picture 1: Down the escalator
Picture 1: Down the escalator
Outside was already dark by at least 1 hour, however, the lights inside the shopping centre and those that were coming from the shops were illuminating the inside of the building in the same way that the lights illuminate the inside of the buildings when closer to Christmas, but without any of the Christmas decoration.
Shibuya Station
 
I kept walking tirelessly until I saw that the number of people were growing. I was entering a tunnel. That tunnel was narrow and had windows. I could see that this tunnel was actually a walking bridge and from the windows there was a beautiful view of tall buildings, the roads underneath and I could also see that the tunnel was going to have a left turn. After walking a few minutes, the tunnel started to get larger and the number of people increased by a large margin.
Businessmen, schoolgirls, schoolboys and people with shopping bags were filling the tunnel and I realised soon afterwards that I was inside the train station. This larger tunnel was leading to the train platforms. People were entering the platforms from left and right. I think the time was between 6-7. Tokyo Shibuya rush hours and there was a lot still to come.
Better than Piccadilly Circus
 
After I had passed all the platforms from the tunnel, the building took me to a staircase leading on the street level. Step by step I managed to reach the exit and another staircase that led me to Shibuya Hachiko Square. The square was crowded and I noticed that in the middle of the square there was a statue of a dog. A lot of people seemed very interested about that statue and were taking photos and selfies with the dog.
hachiko_square1
Picture 2: Dog in Hachiko Square (from http://www.yayanoctopus.com)
Dog's Statue in Hachiko Square (From http://youinjapan.net)
Picture 3: Dog’s Statue in Hachiko Square (From http://youinjapan.net)
In front of me I noticed a pedestrian crossing and I could see on the corners on the other side of the crossing some very interesting buildings, some of them with a very interesting shape. I took some photos of the buildings in front of me and then I walked closer to the pedestrian crossing and took more photos.
Picture 3: QFRONT building
Picture 4: QFRONT building

Pictures 5,6,7,8: different buildings and different designs

Pictures 5 and 6: Beauty of the buildings
Pictures 5 and 6: Beauty of the buildings

SAMSUNG

Pictures 7 and 8: More from Shibuya
Pictures 7 and 8: More from Shibuya
The buildings were magnificent, especially at that time, when the sky was dark and the lights were standing out beautifully.
One of the corners of the crossing reminded me of Piccadilly Circus in London, a better version of Piccadilly. It had a screen with a video showing an advert and other LED adverts on the building. Almost everything was in Japanese characters.
Picture 4: Sibuya's Piccadilly Circus style
Picture 9: Sibuya’s Piccadilly Circus style
Another of the building had a Starbucks on the first floor (or second floor if you live in an Asian country). The tallest of the building was the most unique of the buildings. The bottom part was looking like that it had cubes with glass windows one on top of the other. The cubes were not parallel to each other, one was moved towards this direction and others moved towards other directions.
Picture 5: Cube Building
Picture 10: Cube Building
Wow!!!
 
After taking a number of pictures, I moved to the edge of the pedestrian crossing.
  • Wow!
I thought to myself.
  • Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!
What has fascinated me was to see all the pedestrian traffic lights going green all at the same time and hundreds/thousands of people crossing the road all at the same time. In pictures it looks beautiful, but for real, watching the reaction of that large number of people crossing the road live it really gave me a wonderful impression of the place. Something that I have never seen before – ever. It was just fantastic.
Picture 6: Shibuya's famous pedestrian crossing
Picture 11: Shibuya’s famous pedestrian crossing
My experience in Tokyo was just getting better and better. The only thing I felt sorry was for not crossing the road alongside all those people. Everyone is an individual, however, at that crossing everyone looks the same. I wondered what was the proportion of people crossing the road just because they needed to cross it and the people that were crossing the road just to try the feeling, maybe once in a lifetime.
Next adventures
I wasn’t feeling hungry yet, so I decided to go back to Shibuya train station. Jump on a train and then go back to Harajuku because I felt that I had to take some photos (which I had posted in ‘Cosplay Hunting in Harajuku‘). After that I felt hungry and decided to go to eat in Shinjuku.

Cosplay Hunting in Harajuku

Harajuku Destination

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was really willing to go Cosplay hunting and the best place to go was Harajuku. I got on the train from Akihabara in order to reach my next destination. When I arrived in Harajuku and left from the main exit, I looked around and I saw a foot bridge on my right. At the time I didn’t across that bridge, I just acrossed the road at the traffic light. I looked around a little and then saw a street where a large number of people were walking into. I decided to go there and see what that street was all about.

Shops….shops…..shops…..

That street was packed of people and at the entrance of that street there was a sign telling the name of that street: Takeshita Street (or it can be called in Japanese ‘Takeshita-Dori’). Takeshita-Dori seemed very exciting, even though there were many ‘gaijin’ (foreiners), however, the most of the people were still Japanese.

Picture 1 - Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)
Picture 1 – Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)

Walking down that street I saw a moltitude of clothes shops. I didn’t enter in any of the shops there but I could see that some shops were more specialised in cosplay costumes, but only a handful of them. The most of them were just normal shops selling just normal clothes and shoes, and of course there was also a McDonald’s.

This picture shows how crowded is Harajuku and Takeshita-Dori.
Picture 2 – McDonalds and crowd inside Takeshita-Dori

I did not manage to see a single cosplayer in costume. I was a little disappointed by that but I was still pleased to be in Tokyo, and I soon forgot about looking for cosplay.

Nice Atmosphere

Even though I didn’t see any cosplay, the street itself was crowded with people and made me feel good. It had a nice atmosphere. This is probably because I wasn’t used to quiet places and I always loved been in busy places.

The street was not even. As soon as the ‘Takeshit Street’ sign is passed, the street goes down hill for a little while and then goes flat again. Some of the shops were owned (I think) by foreigners (even though I’m not Japanese myself), however, the street still have that Japanese atmosphere.

Pamyu Kore is written in pink with Japanese characters
Picture 3 – Japanese Feeling
Picture 4 - Feeling in Japan
Picture 4 – Feeling in Japan

I walked up and down the street few times because I liked it and there was a shop that attracted me from the outside because of the clothes they sold, some kind of 17th/18th century costumes. I didn’t go inside that shop, I don’t know why, maybe because I was a bit shy to go inside.

Picture 5 - Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes
Picture 5 – Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes

Cross Over

At the end of the street there was a large road and I could see across the road some big high street apparel brands. The shops seemed quite new. On the right, without acrossing the road I noticed a Starbucks and then I decided to stop for a few minutes, bought and drunk a cappuccino and then left for my next adventure.

*Photos 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been taken on the same day but later in the evening when I went back to Takeshita-Dori from Shibuya for taking more photos.

Akihabara ‘Super Mario’ Building

Not yet, Harajuku has to wait!!!…

After Ginza and before going to Harajuku, I decided to go to Akihabara by myself to have a look around and have lunch there. I wanted to take some photos at maid girls that were handing out leaflets for the maid cafes, but they told me that I was not allowed to do that. So I decided not to take photos in case they think that I am a stalker. After a short walk I decided to move away from the ‘maid area’.

Electric Building

Leaving the ‘maid area’ didn’t mean leaving Akihabara, but going to discover something different. As I mention in the ‘Akihabara: The Electric Town‘ post, I entered the building that has stairs that, from outside they look like Super Mario Bros’ pipes, but this time I decided to discover what was hidden on the other floors.

It didn’t take long to reach that building from where I was, to tell you the truth, I was there within 5 minutes.

Funny Looking Laptops

Once entered into that building, I took the ‘ pipe escalator’ to the other floors to see if they were going to sell items different from those found in UK. The most of the things are the same or very similar, however, what impressed me a lot was the thickness of the Japanese laptops. The screen part was about the same, however, the block of the laptop that holds the keyboard was much thicker.

I was really surprised about that and I was wondering why they were as thick. However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the design of the laptops. The design was far from futuristic, surprisingly, the design was very static, more similar to the old laptops that used to sell in the early 2000’s. For a country like Japan, where everyone think is ahead of the times, this has surprised me a lot.

Raw Egg

After a thorough investigation of the store, I decided to go nearby for a lunch. I found somewhere cheap where to eat, one of those places that can be found anywhere throughout Tokyo.

After choosing something from the vending machine, I went to look for a seat and waited for the waitress to come with the food to my table. The food I order was below the 600 yen mark and it included a bowl of rice, some sliced pork on top and an egg still inside the shell, I thought it was a boild egg.

I started eating the sliced pork and the rice first, then when the waitress came along, I asked how to eat the egg. The waitress she said to open it on top of the rice and so I did. When I broke the egg, I realised that it was still raw. I have never eaten in all my life a row egg. I thought if I was going to mix it with the hot rice, the egg was going to cook by itself. I was wrong but I decided to eat it anyway. Half a year later I found out that eating raw egg was part of the Japanese culture, in fact, Japanese eggs would not harm the health due to its freshness. ‘Tamago gohan’ is the raw egg served on top of a bowl of rice and then eaten, usually with a bit of Japanese soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Really Hentai
After finished eating, I went to walk around the area to see what other things the place was offering. I turned into a narrow street and to my surprise I saw a 6 storie building ) that was selling exclusively only school girl uniforms. The six floors include the ground floor (in Japan the ground floor is considered as first floor unlike western countries) and in addition had the basement. Either that depato (department store in Japanese romanised) was selling uniforms for schools, or more probably it was selling uniforms mainly for cosplaying, or for the maids that were working in Akihabara, or maybe for certain men in order to satisfy their hentai fantasies, or maybe for all of those reasons. I could see on the windows some of the school uniforms displayed and on the ground floor there were some kids’ size anime stickers of school girls and magazine pages.
I was really surprised that a department store so big was selling just schoolgirl uniforms. I was really tempted to have a look inside but I decided to go against my temptation just in case people thought I was a hentai. Even though I was in the country famous for hentai (perverts, at least Japan is seen this way by westerners), I still didn’t know much about Japanese culture to consider to enter that store.
Hentai Building?
Hentai Building?

Tokyo never stopped fascinating me. Tokyo is a really marvellous city, even though many people think that Japan is a very strange country. At the end of the day I respect their culture and I would never change is because is so different from the west and I was sure that Japan was hiding more fascinating things and my staying in Japan had just started. (Next).

Long Walk into the Unknown

Exploring Idea

After having the coffee in Harajuku, I decided to explore the area. After coming out from Starbucks, I saw in the opposite side few department stores. I decided not to go inside them, instead I decided to walk a little bit and look at that ‘hidden’ area of Tokyo.

After coming out from Starbucks, instead than going back from the same way that I came from, the left and turn the corner, I decided to go right and follow my instinct. I crossed the road ignoring the department stores and kept going right. At the first big traffic light I turned left and walked along a long road.

Ginza Number 2

I could see straight away that the road I took was going to be a long one, but not that long. At first there was nothing really interesting that is worth writing in this blog. After about 10 minutes walk, on the left side of the road (my side) started appearing high end shops, the same sort of shops that I found earlier in the day at Ginza: Luis Vuitton, Armani and so on. And because I am not really into those kinds of ‘posh’ shops, I ignored them, I didn’t even take a single photo to them because I was not interested, even though I should have taken a couple just to put on this post (or page, whichever you are reading right now).

I Love the Adventure

Around half way of that road (I didn’t know at that point that I was half way through that road) I found a sign mentioning that by following that road I was going to reach Shibuya. I didn’t know about Shibuya, and looking at my train map that I had in my pocket, Shibuya was marked in bold and in bigger characters compared to those of most stations, indicating that it was one of the major areas in Tokyo.

Nearby I found a station, I really cannot remember right now the name, but it was going towards a different direction from the line that link all the major areas of Tokyo like a circle, it is similar as the Circle Line in London. Anyway,

“I was by myself in the middle of Tokyo and I couldn’t care less where I was going, the most important thing is that in which way I was going I would still find my way round and probably find places where tourists don’t go. I love the adventure.”

2nd Stop

I kept walking into the same direction, that road was actually long. After I completed 100% of that road (it took me more than 30 minutes), another sign was directing Shibuya on the right. It was another long big road, probably bigger than the other one that I just completed.

I crossed the road and went to Shibuya direction. After few minutes I had a very short break, guess what? I stopped for another cappuccino at a nearby Starbucks that was on the same side of the road where I was walking. After grabbing the coffee and leaving the coffee shop, I carried on walking.

UN Uni

I could see a large selection of restaurants on both sides of the road, the most of them were Japanese and a handful were American large chains such as Pizza Hut and so on. By that time, the sky was already getting dark and after about 30 minutes walk on the other side of the road I saw a the ‘University of the United Nations’!!! I didn’t know that the UN had universities. I learnt something new that day that is nothing to do with Japanese culture, but about the world security or safety or whatever you want to call it.

Reaching the Destination

Not far from the University of the United Nations the road started to divide in 2. Following my sense of orientation I kept walking on my side of the road rather than crossing the road and following the other path. The road soon after crossed with another one that if I was going left the road was going up-hill, however, I decided to go down-hill and few minutes later I reached the final destination: Shibuya Station. Yeahhhh!!!!!!!

Cosplay Hunting in Harajuku

Harajuku Destination

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was really willing to go Cosplay hunting and the best place to go was Harajuku. I got on the train from Akihabara in order to reach my next destination. When I arrived in Harajuku and left from the main exit, I looked around and I saw a foot bridge on my right. At the time I didn’t across that bridge, I just acrossed the road at the traffic light. I looked around a little and then saw a street where a  large number of people were walking into. I decided to go there and see what that street was all about.

Shops….shops…..shops…..

That street was packed of people and at the entrance of that street there was a sign telling the name of that street: Takeshita Street (or it can be called in Japanese ‘Takeshita-Dori’). Takeshita-Dori seemed very exciting, even though there were many ‘gaijin’ (foreiners), however, the most of the people were still Japanese.

Picture 1 - Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)
Picture 1 – Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)

Walking down that street I saw a moltitude of clothes shops. I didn’t enter in any of the shops there but I could see that some shops were more specialised in cosplay costumes, but only a handful of them. The most of them were just normal shops selling just normal clothes and shoes, and of course there was also a McDonald’s.

This picture shows how crowded is Harajuku and Takeshita-Dori.
Picture 2 – McDonalds and crowd inside Takeshita-Dori

I did not manage to see a single cosplayer in costume. I was a little disappointed by that but I was still pleased to be in Tokyo, and I soon forgot about looking for cosplay.

Nice Atmosphere

Even though I didn’t see any cosplay, the street itself was crowded with people and made me feel good. It had a nice atmosphere. This is probably because I wasn’t used to quiet places and I always loved been in busy places.

The street was not even. As soon as the ‘Takeshit Street’ sign is passed, the street goes down hill for a little while and then goes flat again. Some of the shops were owned (I think) by foreigners (even though I’m not Japanese myself), however, the street still have that Japanese atmosphere.

Pamyu Kore is written in pink with Japanese characters
Picture 3 – Japanese Feeling
Picture 4 - Feeling in Japan
Picture 4 – Feeling in Japan

I walked up and down the street few times because I liked it and there was a shop that attracted me from the outside because of the clothes they sold, some kind of 17th/18th century costumes. I didn’t go inside that shop, I don’t know why, maybe because I was a bit shy to go inside.

Picture 5 - Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes
Picture 5 – Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes

Cross Over

At the end of the street there was a large road and I could see across the road some big high street apparel brands. The shops seemed quite new. On the right, without acrossing the road I noticed a Starbucks and then I decided to stop for a few minutes, bought and drunk a cappuccino and then left for my next adventure.

*Photos 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been taken on the same day but later in the evening when I went back to Takeshita-Dori from Shibuya for taking more photos.

Akihabara ‘Super Mario’ Building

Not yet, Harajuku has to wait!!!…

After Ginza and before going to Harajuku, I decided to go to Akihabara by myself to have a look around and have lunch there. I wanted to take some photos at maid girls that were handing out leaflets for the maid cafes, but they told me that I was not allowed to do that. So I decided not to take photos in case they think that I am a stalker. After a short walk I decided to move away from the ‘maid area’.

Electric Building

Leaving the ‘maid area’ didn’t mean leaving Akihabara, but going to discover something different.  As I mention in the ‘Akihabara: The Electric Town‘ post, I entered the building that has stairs that, from outside they look like Super Mario Bros’ pipes, but this time I decided to discover what was hidden on the other floors.

It didn’t take long to reach that building from where I was, to tell you the truth, I was there within 5 minutes.

Funny Looking Laptops

Once entered into that building, I took the ‘ pipe escalator’ to the other floors to see if they were going to sell items different from those found in UK. The most of the things are the same or very similar, however, what impressed me a lot was the thickness of the Japanese laptops. The screen part was about the same, however, the block of the laptop that holds the keyboard was much thicker.

I was really surprised about that and I was wondering why they were as thick. However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the design of the laptops.  The design was far from futuristic, surprisingly, the design was very static, more similar to the old laptops that used to sell in the early 2000’s. For a country like Japan, where everyone think is ahead of the times, this has surprised me a lot.

Raw Egg

After a thorough investigation of the store, I decided to go nearby for a lunch. I found somewhere cheap where to eat, one of those places that can be found anywhere throughout Tokyo.

After choosing something from the vending machine, I went to look for a seat and waited for the waitress to come with the food to my table. The food I order was below the 600 yen mark and it included a bowl of  rice, some sliced pork on top and an egg still inside the shell, I thought it was a boild egg.

I started eating the sliced pork and the rice first, then when the waitress came along, I asked how to eat the egg. The waitress she said to open it on top of the rice and so I did. When I broke the egg, I realised that it was still raw. I have never eaten in all my life a row egg. I thought if I was going to mix it with the hot rice, the egg was going to cook by itself. I was wrong but I decided to eat it anyway. Half a year later I found out that eating raw egg was part of the Japanese culture, in fact, Japanese eggs would not harm the health due to its freshness. ‘Tamago gohan’ is the raw egg served on top of a bowl of rice and then eaten, usually with a bit of Japanese soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Really Hentai
After finished eating, I went to walk around the area to see what other things the place was offering. I turned into a narrow street and to my surprise I saw a 6 storie building ) that was selling exclusively only school girl uniforms. The six floors include the ground floor (in Japan the ground floor is considered as first floor unlike western countries) and in addition had the basement. Either that depato (department store in Japanese romanised) was selling uniforms for schools, or more probably it was selling uniforms mainly for cosplaying, or for the maids that were working in Akihabara, or maybe for certain men in order to satisfy their hentai fantasies, or maybe for all of those reasons. I could see on the windows some of the school uniforms displayed and on the ground floor there were some kids’ size anime stickers of school girls and magazine pages.
I was really surprised that a department store so big was selling just schoolgirl uniforms. I was really tempted to have a look inside but I decided to go against my temptation just  in case people thought I was a hentai. Even though I was  in the country famous for hentai (perverts, at least Japan is seen this way by westerners), I still didn’t know much about Japanese culture to consider to enter that store.
Hentai Building?
Hentai Building?

Tokyo never stopped fascinating me. Tokyo is a really marvellous city, even though many people think that Japan is a very strange country. At the end of the day I respect their culture and I would never change is because is so different from the west and I was sure that Japan was hiding more fascinating things and my staying in Japan had just started. (Next).