Day 5: Harajuku

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breakfast of champions – dorayaki (sweet red bean paste sandwiched between 2 pancakes)

Another crappy weather day. *sigh* Doesn’t slow us down much but does get in the way of picture taking. It’s hard to get a good shot of something while holding an umbrella. Also, a million other umbrellas crowd the scenery.

We had plans to get up early and go to Meiji Shrine first thing, but skipped that due to the rain. I also knew that it would be highly unlikely that any dancers would be in the park today, so we didn’t bother walking over to Yoyogi Park either.

I did, however, get to meet up with my friend from U of T. We met in 2008 when we both took first year Japanese and kept in touch after that. She’s been living south of Tokyo for 2 years now.

While we were waiting for my friend, Hubby and I walked down Takeshita Street to see what had changed in the five years since we had been there. Turns out, a LOT. It seems to be more commercial now with a few mall-type buildings – lost of bit of its subculture gathering spot charm. There were hardly any girls dressed in ‘unusual’ fashion. Maybe it was just because of the rain…

There are also 3 times as many crepes shops. That’s… good, I guess.

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I love Japanese taxis!  And there are those yellow jacket tourists again.

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too many people, too many umbrellas

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They have also made new gates for the 2 entrances to Takeshita Dori. I’m not sure that I like them…

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Daiso – the hundred yen (dollar) store

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Jeans Mate – I’m not sure what to equate this store chain to, but I’m sure we have something similar. (Bluenotes, in Canada, I think.)

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the 2 “original” Harajuku crepes shops – Angels Heart and Marion

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flavours are displayed in wax replica – makes for easy ordering if you don’t speak the language

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“Sushi Ninja Toilet” – best public restroom ever

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there is a shrine directly behind the super famous teenage shopping street – I love Japan!

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Hi.

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Wickett behind the counter, ’cause, why not?

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A lot of the crepe places, if not all, also serve bubble tea. I’m sad to say I did not partake.

Once back out on the main street, we popped into a store which had a group of cartoon characters that we had been seeing everywhere but had no idea what they were from. Line Friends. My friend explain this to us at lunch. Line is an instant messaging app and the “friends” are the mascot-type characters that are used in the stickers (emojis). They apparently have this whole backstory and everything and have become super popular. So much so that they have their own store in Harajuku…

Anyway~ Hubby kind of fell in love with the bear (whose name we found out is ‘Brown’) and bought a stuffie for himself. (His head is very round and Hubby has since renamed him ‘Mochi’.)

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Murasaki Sports – note the Star Wars skateboards (This store chain is much easier for me to relate to a Canadian equivalent. It’s just like a West 49 or Boathouse. IDK about you Americans though.)

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Forever 21 is just as popular here as anywhere else

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Line Friends store entrance

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Brown

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GIANT Brown

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If you have to be sick, may as well still be cute.

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Guess who my favourite character is  ???

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Amazing service – the cashier put a rain cover on our bag so our purchase would stay nice and dry

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This guy came home with us – he has been renamed Mochi Brown.

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where we had dessert last night – but a better picture in the daytime

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Harajuku Station

We wandered back to the head of Takeshita to meet my friend at Noa Cafe for noon. The waffles they serve are incredible! There are a few other things on the menu but none of us tried them so I can’t say how they are.

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Hubby’s choice – blueberry waffle

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my friend got choco-banana – our whole table looked delicious

P.S. Getting out from the table, I broke a glass and was so mortified, I almost started crying.

After eating, we walked towards Omotesando (a street in Harajuku known for upscale shopping). We had plans to get a ton of souvenir toys and stuffies for all our nephews and niece (as well as ourselves) at Kiddy Land. On the way, we went in to the new(ish) Tokyu Plaza. The entrance is almost creepy. A huge escalator takes you up and into a mirrored…. something. I don’t even know how to describe it. But seeing so many reflections of myself at all different angles is somewhat unsettling.

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Hi again.

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mirrors everywhere

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Good to see you, tomodachi!

I don’t know what I was expecting on the inside – but it’s just kind of like the 109 complex in Shibuya but not as… young. Many shops of clothing, shoes, bedazzled phone cases, etc. There is supposedly a really nice terrace at the top of the building but, for obvious reasons, we didn’t go up there.

When we left Tokyu, we parted ways with my friend since she has to catch her bus back home, and headed down Omotesando to Kiddy Land and Oriental Bazaar. There are a ton of “fancy” stores that I’m sure would be a destination for many shoppers – like Dior, Chanel, etc. – but we are not fancy people.

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Of all the high-end stores, I only took pictures of the Dior store – for my friends (They know why.)

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I can’t afford that kind of customer service – although service in general in Japan is pretty astounding.

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sort of like Toys R Us, but SO MUCH BETTER

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4th floor is split between a Hello Kitty store and a Rilakkuma store (together but with different cash registers)

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Gudetama!  Yes, he is everywhere right now but I still get excited and bought stuff for myself.

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I really don’t understand but balancing figures on the edge of your glass seems to be a big thing

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Rilakkuma makes your food cuter

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I loved this guy – Tarepanda – years ago. It makes me happy that he’s still around.

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He’s eating taiyaki! Cute.

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“Happy life with Rilakkuma!” – I agree

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Pom Pom Purin – I love purin, so I love him too. Bought one.

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Kirimi-chan – another example of how weird Japan can be…  Sanrio held a competition last year for a new character and this salmon-fillet-headed-thing is what won.

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Sumikko Gurashi – my new favourite characters. So freaking cute!

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I’m so sorry, Niecey! The one thing she said she wanted… I wasn’t sure so I took a picture to compare to what she sent me when we got back to the hotel. When we came back to get them days later, they were completely sold out. 😥

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the rest of the 3 floors are sort of a mishmash of characters – Star Wars is always a win

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Be@rbrick – I’m kinda glad this obsession never really took hold for me. It’s endless.

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Japan’s superhero – Ultraman

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Licca-chan – Japan’s super popular answer to Barbie

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these scare me

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one annoying thing is that you have to pay for your purchases on each floor the items come from (everywhere in Japan, not just at this store)

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always my favourite section (and yet, never where I buy anything…) – GHIBLI!

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Mei dressed as Catbus – adorable!

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another of my favourite characters – Kapibara-san

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Hubby: “Hmmm, do I need a Miffy?”

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Monchhichi – I used to love them when I was a really little kid

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Minions are cross-culturally cute

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there was a big Disney section – I didn’t look much because it’s something I can find at home, but these frying pan mold things were cool

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iconic Japanese characters – Doraemon (on the left – a robot cat) and Crayon Shin-chan (on the right – a foul-mouthed, troublesome Kindergartener) – both popular manga/anime

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even Harry Potter had a little section

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more cup balancing girl

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even your latte must be cute-ified

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…IDK

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Ted is very popular… for young kids, ’cause… he’s cute, right? They have no clue.

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a new character just introduced, Ojipanojisan is the Japanese word for “old man” (kind of like “Pops”), so he’s an ‘old man panda’. I’m down!

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Popin’ Cookin’ is still a thing

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these were in every single souvenir shop we’ve seen – solar-powered bobble thingys

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our next stop was Oriental Bazaar – a store specializing in Japanese-y gifts

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noren – these curtains hang at the entrances of restaurants and shops

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kimono for the whole family

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the 2nd floor is all antiques and expensive things

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noh masks

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I’ve always loved these step chests – very multifunctional (People used them to get up into attic spaces.)

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Night Snow at Kamabara, one of my favourite ukiyo-e paintings because it’s used as the cover art for Weezer‘s 2nd album, Pinkerton – This was just a print but it was still 2,450,000 yen (about $25,000)

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…so I bought a cup for $6 instead

After I had already taken about a million pictures in the antiques area, someone told me it wasn’t allowed. Oops. I hope you enjoyed all those illegally taken shots. The basement floor is where the cheap souvenir things are (where I bought that cup and also the silk kimono and the cotton yukata set). IDK if pictures were allowed in that area but I didn’t bother taking my phone out again after I put it away upstairs.

 

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traditional Buddhist statues stand guard at the entrance

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a lot of old ladies have various unnatural colours of hair, like purple, bright red, blue, etc. – and they also always seem to be coordinated with their outfits

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the ever-present trench coats

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even in the rain, still SO. MANY. PEOPLE.

When we were all shopped out and laden with bags, we decided to call it a day. There was just one more necessity. You just can’t do a day in Harajuku and NOT get a crepe. So we went back up Takeshita Dori ONE MORE TIME and I got the necessary treat. It’s really more the experience than the taste. Because they have to make so many so quickly, they pre-make the crepes and have them ready to fill. The result of that is that they are very rubbery. And there is too much filling, if you ask me.

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Hubby wanted to stop off at the Nike store on the way

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I’m an athlete.

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he had to check out the Kobe section, of course

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you could see this display from anywhere in the store, even other floors – VERY bright

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we passed by a shoe store – ABC Mart – with a nice selection of Chucks (one of the things on my to-buy list)

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This is the pair I bought. They remind me of the salior-style high school uniforms (seikfuku) worn in one of my favourite anime series, Clannad.

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big line up of people for I don’t know what

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This place had the smallest line, so that’s what I picked. Strangely, they were playing Disney soundtracks. (I was singing along with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.)

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This is the one I got – and to make ordering easy, I just showed the girl this picture. (“custard whip, banana, choco brownie & choco whip” is what the tag says)

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Instead of being done, we dropped off our bags at the hotel, rested up a bit, and popped over to Akihabara. Hubby has a huge agenda for the day we have planned there, so we thought it would be a good idea to get some of the destinations out of the way while we had the time and energy. Things were pretty much closed up by the time we got there, but the bigger department stores were open later. We had about 15 minutes in Radio Kaikan and then hit up both LABI and Yodobashi Camera. For as small as most places are and a cramped as things can be, these stores are HUGE. Floor after floor of electronics, figures, home goods, whatever. I bought a hair dryer~

hair-dryer

At every hotel we went to last time, they all had this one model of hair dryer – Panasonic Ionity. I used them instead of taking mine in and out of my suitcase each time and I loved it. (It’s at this hotel too.) I was determined to buy one this time. Another thing to cross off my list!

Something else I was looking at was water heaters. I’ve seen people use them on anime and in YouTube videos. It’s basically a container that keeps your water hot and has a spout. I saw them at LABI but hubby wants to save big purchases for a particular store that has a tax-free discount for foreign visitors as well as an extra discount for using his Visa card. I hope I see more with English buttons. I looked at Yodobashi Camera too but they only had Japanese.

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We had a snack on the way at our “home” station. The guy that worked there surprised us by speaking flawless English.

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I had what was called poutine on the menu (it was really just fries with gravy and some melted cheese… good, but NOT poutine) – another thing I did not expect to ever find in Japan

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taken from the Akihabara Station platform – IDK if you can appreciate how huge it is

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the newly rebuilt (well, new to us since we’d been here last) Radio Kaikan

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Akihabara-themed souvenir sweets

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water heaters – I WANT!

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there is a picture of me at this exact same spot from last time… now it’s Hubby’s turn

One of the things I was dying to eat that I loved during our 2010 trip was vanilla chiffon cake from Starbucks. I think I ate 3 or 4 pieces of it then (but never took a picture) – probably the best cake ever. And of course, I found out upon returning home, that it was only available on the menu in Japan. There was none of that precise description to be found, but instead this “rich milk” chiffon cake. I thought it would be the same thing… Sadly, it is not. I have only my memories to sustain me now.  😦

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It tastes like being on a diet. But it’s still cake. This confused me. And it is so not worth the calories! – Matcha latte, on the other hand, is scrumptious and will be drunk innumerable times before heading home again.

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So big. So Bright. So clean. So many helpful staff people.

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very efficient escalators – and lots of them

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In one of my pre-trip posts, I mentioned possibly buying a heated toilet seat (called washlets – They also have built in bidet functions but I’m not sure how I feel about that and have never tried it out). Most of the hotels and public restrooms have them. I had no idea they were SO EXPENSIVE though. Also, they are more oblong than our toilets at home, so this is not something we will be buying. (Gotta look into other methods of having a heated toilet seat though. I miss that so much at home.)

After ramen, we were officially done for the day.

The 11th floor of Yodobashi is a collection of restaurants. There is no map and it’s sort of a maze so it took us awhile to find it. (Hubby knew about it from a guide they had for the entire building.) We even asked a girl who worked at another restaurant and she had no clue. Eventually we came across an ‘information girl’ who walked us over.

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Hubby had to have his ramen

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…but I just had gyoza

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a gaggle of women doing purikura – photo booth stickers

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There is an issue with perverts taking pictures of under girls’ short skirts while behind them on escalators – yikes!      Hubby has an album on Facebook dedicated to the various warning signs we’ve been seeing.

When I was in Hong Kong, 7-11 had this promotion going on that when you spent a certain amount, you got a sticker (I think it was 1 sticker for every $10HKD) and if you collected enough stickers, you could trade them in for a Rilakkuma stuffie (which I ended up getting). Hubby noticed today that the baked goods at Lawson had little Rilakkuma stickers on them. We figured that there was probably a similar thing going on. On the way home, we stopped in at the Lawson we usually go to and asked there if this was the case. The guy spoke a little English and said we had to get 35 stickers to trade in for a bowl. Hubby is kind of pissed that we wasted the first 4 days (who knows how many stickers we’ve already thrown out?!), but he is determined to get it. And I have a good track record with this kind of thing. We can totally do it. Challenge accepted.

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(originally posted to Japan – Here I Come!)

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2 Responses to Day 5: Harajuku

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