Posted by: jyunbugspeaks | May 30, 2013

Welcome to crazy town: Harajuku and all it’s glory

IMG_0499If there is a place that is the complete opposite of what you think of Japanese society is in general, then look no further than this place! Welcome to Harajuku. It is a place that is swarming with fashionistas to school girls in uniforms (both normal and Sailor Moon versions) to tourist and it gets mad crazy during the weekends.

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As we hopped off the station at Harajuku you are immediately bombarded with bodies walking in multiple directions either heading to the Meiji Shrine, high-end shopping at Omotesando Hills or people watching at Harajuku. We tackled the less crowded one first (not by much) which was the Meiji Shrine. As you enter the giant gates and begin walking IMG_0406 down the pebble path towards the temple we started to notice something…it got quieter and quieter as we walked further into the oasis of ancient trees and foliage that were sent from other parts of Japan. It was as if the rows of trees were acting like a sound barrier and it pretty much blocked out all the traffic and chaos that was going on just outside of us. It was incredible to see all those lush and dense trees, stone bridges and small shrines that would pop up along our journey.

IMG_0299As we approached the entrance to the shrine we managed to witness a rare moment. A traditional Shinto japanese wedding was being conducted and we got to view this magnificent ceremony as they paraded around the grounds. The bride and groom were dressed in traditional wedding outfits as they walked with the wedding party to the shrine to perform the wedding vows. Hmmm, I guess George Lucas borrowed this look for Star Wars. What do you think?

IMG_0465 IMG_0321 After the free wedding spectacle we made our way to the central sanctuary and paid our respects to the emperor. The shrine grounds was vast with pockets of areas to sit and view the stunning craftsmanship of the structures and generally have a moment of peace. You can also write prayers and good wishes on wooden plaques, think of it as an old school status update. IMG_0476 IMG_0302 IMG_0484 After getting our Zen on and feeling a bit hungry, we decided to grab some lunch at Harajuku. After a quick crossing of a bridge we landed smack dab into what can only be described as a mashup of anime meets fashionista meets plastic food mecca. This area was packed with all walks of life, some were the usual suspects, tourists and locals but then we met these strange kats…

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With our bellies crying out for some nourishment, we started to wander to find something to satisfy our hungry and lo and behold, it appeared before us….a sign if you will…well more like a giant all-you-can-eat plastic food display. It was so beautiful and tacky that we could not pass it up!

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…and reality. Not quite like the plastic display unfortunately but still tasty.

Now fully stuffed with carbs we though a good way to digest this mega meal was to do some  shopping and luckily such a place existed just a couple of blocks from us. This district was IMG_1445called Omotesando and it is a wonderful place to shop for souvenirs, have a coffee or tea and just chill.  There was also a mall there called Omotesando Hills and it was a great place to hang as it had a nice coffee shop. The one thing that I quickly noticed over here was that the Japanese are amazing at making delicious cakes and small treats. Yes they make great electronics and cars and that’s a given but man who knew they can also make pastries as good as anyone around the world. We must have eaten at least a dozen cafes and we could not get enough of them. Even at a 7-11,(I KNOW! In a future post I’ll explain my love of the place) they had these baked sweet breads filled with a chocolate ganache that were so good I stuffed a bunch into my suitcase. Seriously though it’s freaking addictive.

Alas after a long day and eventful day we settled for what else…tea and some more of Tokyo’s finest cakes! Tune in for my next adventure, My Visit To Akihabara: Anime, Maid Cafes and the Otaku. Cheers!

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