Here’s the much anticipated article about Harajuku. Now, during my stay in Tokyo, I went to Harajuku twice – once because it was nice, and twice because, well I can’t think of anything else that rhymes with “nice” at the moment, so you’ll have to deal with “it’s awesome”. Our first visit to Harajuku on the 20th of June was filled with my sister and I following the hid-quarters of my parents – and once we had decided to split off from them, I promptly lost my sister. Loosing my sister is not unusual, just that when this usually happens, I have some form of communications device to be able to locate her. NOT SO, IN JAPAN.
Due to the Japanesean paranoia – that prepaid mobile phones are directly linked to terrorism – to obtain a mobile phone in the great land of the Rising Sun, you must loan one from various locations around Narita Airport. Now, as my father, as lovable and balding as he is, is a little on the stingy side, he did not permit us to loan any. Nice.
So, I was lost in Harajuku and my sister was long gone.
What’s one to do?
Leech internet off the local Softbank store of course.
Now while I was performing this task of leeching (I managed to get ONE tweet in before I was cut off), I was approached by a filming crew. YES! THAT’S RIGHT! I LOOK SUFFICIENTLY JAPANESE TO BE APPROACHED BY A FILMING CREW. Utter. Madness. However, once I had explained to them that I was not a local and only here on holiday, their interest abated, and they went on to ask me entertaining questions about life in Australia, just for kicks. Friendly.
Eventually, I managed to catch up with my wandering sibling, only to find her swanning about on the other side of the road, about to enter Zara. I swear, I turn around for one moment and I spend the next hour searching the streets for her. SIGH.
Fashionable young things are everywhere in Japan. And yes, that is a shot of a Toyota Hybrid in there. It pulled up to the curb right when I was taking my shot. Boo!
In any case, Harajuku was insanulous – we first visited on a Sunday. NEVER, EVER, EVER DO THIS. Especially if you value such qualities like personal space. And breathing. We made the mistake of taking a trip around Harajuku on a weekend and paid dearly for it – by the middle of the day, we were worn out and exhausted from the sheer effort of trying to make it through the crowds without loosing an integral appendage or two.
Of course, if you’re there to view the crowds, there’s a lot to see in Harajuku – the people are so luridly dressed that the first view of the area will get you spouting OOH’s and AAH’s spontaneously. However, after the novelty wears off, the crazily clothed with only start to blend gregariously into the fabric that is Harajuku and you will become strangely immune to the craziest clad Japanese Youth that could be thrown in your direction.
Eventually, you become so disillusioned by it all, everything begins to turn into a blur and no one seems to be wearing anything relatively fashionable, in fact, they appear to be trying so hard to be different from each other, that they end up look exactly the same. A flock of girls will conglomerate together – and even though, in reality, they’re wearing different clothes, they all appear to be wearing the same thing. As in chemistry, like attracts like – and so a group of friends WILL ALMOST ALWAYS be wearing the same style of clothing. The fact that they stick to a fashion genre, in effect, makes them clones. This is what saddened me about all the “Fashionable Young Things” in Japan – this scary attachment to appearing perfect, the seething vanity, materialism, and the need to keep up appearances at all times. The whole effect is scarily surreal.
Yes, the fashion scene is indeed amazing in Japan – but the lesson learnt here is to not become so absorbed in what is “In” but to wear what you feel most comfortable in and what makes you feel good.
Signs and such all through Harajuku. Gingko Biloba leaf insignias can be found on everything – from electrical port caps to drain covers.
A noteworthy place to pop by was definitely, HARAJUKU, DASIO: Possibly the best 100 YEN store I visited during my stay in Japan – this shop is filled to overflowing with knick knacks that you never knew you might need. In saying this, I went to buy some souvenir headbands (Hachimaki; 鉢巻) for my friends only to watch a bloke in a suit pick up the whole entire rack of “闘魂” (Fighting Spirit, Tohkon) ones. Shamed, I was left with the “日本” (Japan, Nihon) ones to bring home. Sad. I also managed to pick up a great selection of miniaturised bling and bento things for giveaways and souvenirs. I’m a little bit of a hoarder.
Of course there were big brand places like FOREVER 21, TOPSHOP and ZARA– but, in all honesty, the quality of the attire in Forever 21 and Topshop was equivalent to much found in our local Valleygirl – the fabrics were cheap and the styles, even though better presented than in Australia, were over-priced and not of much interest. The quality at Zara was much better, but even then, the retail prices were flamboyant and preyed on the “European” and “Americana” love-hate relationship of the Japanese. Truly, if you’re like me, and are looking for a some-what-a-bargain mixed with some true mori-girl/edgy styling, your place to be would be in the back streets of Harajuku. Full outfits can be found for a handful of yen and don’t turn your nose up at the little shoe stores back here, I found a ridiculously comfortable pair of heeled, studded gladiator sandals for a steal at only 990 yen (about $12AUD)!
Second-hand yukata in a crazy array of colours and prints; A great sign that can be found all along the back alleys of Harajuku – Whatever you attempt, do not, under any circumstances, smork.