Wednesday, July 13, 2005

原宿 (Harajuku)


On Sunday, because it wasn't raining, I decided it was the perfect time to go to Harajuku (the fashion district of Tokyo) to see the freaks and fashions. It was an excellent experience!

The first thing I noticed was the even-odd-for-Tokyo juxtaposition of old and new -- the huge stone lanterns sitting at the corners of the intersection of two main roads (leading to Shibuya, among others) was an odd sight.

There was also plenty of artwork to be had, whether it be art along the sidewalk or in an incredibly unbelievable art house/commune. I took no pictures within the commune, despite my entrance, because I didn't know if it was allowed, and I was too spooked by the coolness of the commune and the artwork to ask. I really wish I had the money to buy some of the stuff -- it was downright odd. I can't even describe it, so I won't try. However, if I happen to see artwork that looks like it, I'll make sure to mention it here.

I also saw Tokyo Union Church (technically in Shibuya), a non-denominational, English-speaking church. Perhaps if I go back to Harajuku to pick up the sheet music to one of my favorite composers, Joe Hisaishi (もののけ姫, きくじろの夏, 千と千尋の神隠し) (Princess Mononoke, Kikujiro, Spirited Away).

There was plenty of fashionable young people to be seen.

I randomly walked into a store with Star Wars ads, only to find it was the au Gallery (au [yes, lowercase] is the cell phone branch of KDDI, a telecommunications company in Japan; I have an au phone). Inside, there was a guy who made some movie 10 years ago signing autographs for a DVD release, but I was not distracted for long; I trekked to the second floor, where I realized they were housing the au Auctions memorabilia. Currently there was Star Wars movie memorabilia. I saw Anakin's lightsaber, Yoda's lightsaber, and AT-AT, a thermal detonator, a Darth Vader mask, and some very funny au/Star Wars advertisements. In one, Yoda was putting the moves on some chick while she was on a date. The guy looks none-too-happy. With that sight, I had to take pictures of them. So I'll post them.

I walked to Meiji Jinguu (明治神宮) to see it. There was a wedding photo session there, so I gave up trying to explore the place; I didn't want to disturb some bride on her favorite day. I didn't even go further into the place to find the temple. It's basically a forest smack dab in the middle of Tokyo. But I did snap a picture of the wooden gate (門,もん).

I also have some fashions to share with you -- Gothic Lolita (ゴシック・ロリータ), [name unknown], and "decorar" (デコラー). My favorite is decorar, where you basically decorate yourself with unbelievable amounts of accessories. It looks so happy!

Here's a couple more pictures of the dressed-up kids at Jingu-mae (神宮前) near the station.

Before I went back to Sagamihara, a band named Wakaba started playing at Jinguu-mae. I stayed to listen, and afterwards they were selling their CDs. They were an awesome guitar duo, so I went to buy a CD or two. While waiting in line, the girl in front of my was trying to buy the CDs, but she didn't speak excellent Japanese (I guess she was Australian, although I didn't really focus on her English). I offered to translate for her, then wished her an enjoyable stay in Japan. I felt so badass, like a local! :) After that, I chatted up the band and had them sign one of the CDs for me. They complimented me on my Japanese (don't they all? ;) and then I went back home, tired...very tired.

Yesterday (Tuesday), I gave my final speech in Japanese about the declining standards of education in Japan (previously given in English in my Japanese Society and Culture class). It was 9 minutes long, and then we had a 1-2 minute discussion about the topic. I will turn in my written report tomorrow. After I do that, I'll post the paper in Japanese (with maybe an English version up later) for anyone who wants to try their hand at reading my (hopefully flawless!) Japanese.


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