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.
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’.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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~
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.
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. 😦
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.
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.
(originally posted to Japan – Here I Come!)