Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tokyo Day 4: Harajuku is Full of Crepes

This morning we slept in, relieved of any deadlines or obligations for the day. After hitting the Sunshine City mall for brunch (curry), we boarded the train for Harajuku, the fashion capital of Tokyo.

On the way, we exited at Shinjuku station, so I could take pictures of the train station. The station is renowned among fans of the CITY HUNTER manga and anime series as the means of contacting the title character. There used to be a message chalkboard in the station; and someone who wanted to hire City Hunter would write the code "XYZ" -- meaning the last resort -- on the board. The recent sequel series, ANGEL HEART, pointed out that because of cell phones, the chalkboard had been phased out. And, to my disappointment, I discovered that another landmark of the series, the huge sign on the station's east side reading "MY CITY" (the name of the mall in which the station is located) was no more. The name of the mall was changed to "Lumiere Est." (I found this out from a barista at the nearby Starbucks, after we walked around the station trying to find the sign.)

We got back on the train, got off at Shinjuku station, then walked down Takeshita Street, a collection of funky clothing shops (lots of rock, punk, "gothic lolita" and similar young folks stuff), fast food restaurants, and lots and lots of crepe stands. (The crepe seems to be the food of choice of young Tokyo fashionistas.)

We then walked a block over to Omotesando, the other side of the fashion equation. It was chock-full of high-end fashion shops, reminiscent of Beverly Hills. It also featured Kiddyland, a terrific multi-story toy store with a great collection of Disney, Peanuts, and anime merchandise.

My one clothing purchase was a motorman's cap. We glimpsed the open door of a hat shop, and walked down the stairs of the shop. The stairway turned out to be the entire shop; the display shelves lined the stairs, and at the bottom the floor was only large enough for the sales counter and one customer. I picked up several hats, then finally found a dark flannel -wool blend hat, made by Kangol, and placed it on my head. I turned to the young sales woman behind the counter. She glanced at the hat on my head, and gave me a thumbs up. That was all I needed.

After dinner at a steak fast-food chain outlet on Takeshita, we took the train to Shibuya. I was intent on walking around the station to see the sights.

Unfortunately, the rain and wind grew heavier and heavier as we strolled. Eventually we got the hint. We took the train back to Ikebukuro. On the way, the screens in the train indicated that some Japan Railway lines (including the Chuou line, which we took yesterday) were suspended due to "typhoon." When we got back to the Ikebukuro station, the rain was cascading down. We swam back to our hotel.

Tomorrow -- hopefully -- Tokyo Tower.

Our latest photos can be found here.

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