Friday, 7 August 2015

Harajuku and Akihabara

I love sleeping on tatami mats! So comfy! Though the sun came smack bang through our window first thing, so it was not easy to sleep in as much as I wanted! Simple breakfast is offered downstairs, and I got chatting to some tourists from Denmark over cocoa flakes, before we piled on the sunscreen and headed out into the oven that is Tokyo.

Last time I visited, I had wanted to go to Harajuku and had run out of time. This morning we purchased a travel card and jumped on the Joban and Yamanote lines, on wonderfully air-conditioned trains, before alighting at Harajuku station. Instantly, Takeshita Dori (birthplace of many a Tokyo trend), comes into view. It was crazy, filled with approximately 2 billion souvenirs I could have purchased purely for the cute factor. It was crowded and noisy, playing a crazy mix of J-pop and Western music (including some classic Bon Jovi), and looked at first glance as though a hyperactive toddler had gone crazy with a paintbrush. The sheer volume of colour and textures and advertising was fabulous - similar to the effect of Shibuya at nighttime. The real treasures were the things to buy. Imagine the weirdest thing you could put on a t-shirt, and I guarantee you'll find weirder in Harajuku. Also, they love Disney. And Barbie. And Totoro. I mean, who doesn't?

Just on the other side of the station, is a completely different experience. The Meiji Shrine was probably about 5 degrees cooler, seeing as we were walking through a canopy of trees. It was beautiful, quiet, and quite busy despite the heat. For 500yen we were able to enter the Inner Garden and admire the Kiyomasa well and the fishing pond near the teahouse. Little tortoises came up to say hi, and there were plenty of places to sit and rest - a little oasis from the heat and noise.

We jumped back on the JR line to get home, revelling in the cool train carriages, and have stopped for a rest and a shower at the hostel before we go out for the evening.

Okay, so it was a long rest and shower! And then more chatting with hotel guests. And THEN we got on a train to Akihabara, famous tech/anime/game district, which looks like Shibuya only MORE CRAZY. We wandered around forever to find some dinner (which we bought with the handy vending machine ticket system they use a lot over here), and then went into one of the massive, multi-storey arcades. SO MANY WEIRD AND COOL GAMES! I have precisely zero interest in games, and genuinely surprised myself with how much fun I had. I can see why these places are so popular! (Also, sorry for being a game snob.)

Home now, nearly midnight, and I want to be asleep soon so we can enjoy our day with Reiko tomorrow!

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