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35 travelers at this place

  • Day9

    Cat Street & weitere verrückte Strassen

    April 13, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    In der Cat Street gibt es die coole japanische Mode. Zum grossen Teil second hand. interessante Cafes und Kunst. Erholsam und Abseits vom Trubel. In der Takeshita die verrückten Geschäfte, 1 Euro-Läden und Souvenierläden. Kitsch as kitsch can.Read more

  • Day5


    July 15, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Went to lunch at a great gyoza place in Harajuku, Alex was particularly happy with that choice.

    After we went to Takeshita-dori, the main locus of teen fashion & culture in Tokyo. The boys were super into it and had a ball. It was wild - packed and full of color and noise and teens EVERYWHERE.

    To wind down after all that excitement we hit the hedgehog cafe. Who thought of this idea for a cafe? It started with cat cafes, and now there are dogs, hedgehogs and even owls.
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  • Day5

    Tokyo Drift (Still Fast Still Furious)

    May 15, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    I quickly quenched my mild after-effects of the previous night out with a hearty breakfast from the Family Mart just round the corner from the hostel. These brilliant little convenience stores, which I encountered previously in Vietnam, are open 24-hours and so had been 'conveniently' open at whatever time it had been when we'd come home from Golden Gai. This meant I'd been able to consume a two-litre bottle of water and savoury something-or-other before sleep, thereby supressing hangover symptoms to the degree that my morning chocolate croissant/donut/coffee combo provided all the boost I needed for what was to be another relentlessly-scheduled day. Sufficiently busy as to render the chosen title for this post adjectively cogent and not merely an esoteric reference to a low-grossing 13 year old movie uniquely released in the space both before and after its franchise was culturally relevant.

    Others hadn't fared quite as well and so the initial pace was notably subdued as we headed to our first stop of the day ; the Imperial Palace, where the Emperor and his family live. It's like visiting Buckingham Palace; you can't (or at least we didn't) go in, but we wandered around the outer grounds, admiring the moat and walls that were once a part of the largest fortress in the world.

    Looking away from the palace we had a good view of one of Tokyo's commercial districts, with large skyscrapers dominating the skyline. It looked odd somehow. Calling upon all my childhood spot-the-difference experience I eventually realised that unlike other such city views, including much of those around Tokyo, there were no corporate logos adorning the sides of the buildings. I wondered if this was because it was considered improper or perhaps even formally not permitted to direct advertisements toward the palace. I was going to raise this question to Yukko, but literally nobody else though this was an interesting observation except me so I just let it go. It was sunny this morning and I forgot my cap, which was a pain in the arse and, latterly, face.

    The most notable architectural feature of the outer palace was apparently this bit where there were two bridges. I counted them and, yep, their calculations were correct. We spent a little while in the Imperial Gardens where we were granted 'free time' to explore. I ended up going for a walk with the female half of the German duo. She seems cool ; I hope I get to spend some more time with her.

    We departed the palace and headed via the rail network to the Harajuku district; the apparent centre of Japanese subculture and fashion. Signs on archways, just begging to be vandalised, labelled the main pedestrianised road as 'Takeshita Street', which was lined left and right with stores both large and boutique-y alongside all manner of eating establishments. Now, anyone who's ever been shopping with me will know how hard it is to hold me back from sampling every clothier and accessory retailer going, trying on everything in sight and effectively enacting a real-life makeover montage, ultimately emerging encumbered with too many shopping bags to carry, but I somehow resisted this urge and patiently followed the group and Yukko through some narrow side-streets to where we'd been booked-in for lunch.

    As a large group, it was unrealistic that we'd be able to find eating establishments able to accommodate us all on a single table. Rather, we would frequently be herded into a designated area of an eatery and spread ourselves across a few smaller tables. With Ruth and I largely wandering together during our point-to-point journeys, we entered together and took two seats on a table for four. Leaving two spare seats, our eating companions would depend upon the random-ish order of entry of our fellow travellers, factoring in the preferences of groupings/couples to sit together. We ended up being joined by 'the Germans' ; Florian (whose name at this point I'd misremembered and therefore spoke aloud as 'Fabian') and Veronika, whom I'd wandered the Imperial Gardens with but whose name at this point I don't think I'd learned.

    Today's restaurant was the first we visited that involved an element that would become fairly commonplace during the trip ; cooking your food yourself at the table. I can't recall the name of the dish we cooked and I'm writing sans internet so will look it up and pop it into these extra special double-brackets later ((Okonomiyaki)), but we were essentially provided a bowl full of salad bits with an floury/batter-like liquid which we mixed together vigorously then cooked on a hot-plate similarly to a pancake, cooking/adding our chosen meats as we went. It tasted good, especially with a squirt of the provided (and recommended) mayonnaise accompaniment.

    Our table had received our ingredients last and so concluded our moderately-successful cooking also last. This, coupled with Ruth's fairly slow average eating speed, meant everybody else had left by the time our table was ready for the bill. You could therefore posit that Ruth's consumption rate was a direct cause of she and I spending further time with Florian and Veronika and, therefore, all that would subsequently flow from this grouping. I probably owe Ruth a drink. Or the equivalent of owing someone a drink when said someone has made it patently clear over two weeks of travelling they don't enjoy the taste of alcohol.

    After paying-up, the four of us went for a bit of a wander around the local area, ending up walking the length of Takeshita Street, observing some of the odd offerings. The Germans had spotted a 100-yen store when we'd first arrived, which had been on my list of things to visit whilst in Japan, so we went there for a browse. Essentially the slightly-pricier equivalent of a UK pound-store, it was fun to look at both the familiar and unfamiliar items on display, adorned with exciting, overly-enthusiastic Japanese branding. I bought a couple of cheap gifts for people that I almost immediately misplaced and lost because I brought a fashionable, cross-body sling bag for day-trips as opposed to something useful you can actually fit things into.

    We re-joined the rest of the group and Yukko lead us to the nearby Meiji Jingu shrine in the middle of the large, bulbous park we'd seen from the top of the Tokyo Met Tower on Day 1. The path was rough and gravelly down the middle with neat, level paving down either side. Yukko told us that it was expected that visitors walked down the sides as, traditionally, only those of noble birth would walk down the centre. Considering myself sufficiently removed from this tradition and of requisite station regardless to walk where I liked, I chose to walk down the left-hand side with everybody else primarily to better preserve my shoe-soles.

    The Meiji Jingu shrine itself was/is dedicated to the deified spirits of former Emperor Meiji and Empress "Doesn't-get-her-name-in-the-shrine-name" Shōken. He was apparently rather into western culture, and set an example by eating western food alongside imported wines, which must have been tricky as none of the Japanese restaurants we've visited yet have had an even halfway-decent wine list.

    En route to the shrine there was a feature comprising of barrels of foreign, mainly French, wine on one side of the road and correspondingly on the other side of the road a similar stack of far-prettier sake barrels adorned with Japanese calligraphy and symbols. I postulate that the intention of this arrangement was to symbolise the aforementioned blend of western/eastern cultures and not to suggest, as would be a fair alternative explanation, that he was a bit of a piss-head.

    The shrine itself was decent, if unspectacular. Look, I've been to lots of temples/shrines/pagodas over the past year and the consequence of this repetition is each new one loses some of the oomph it might otherwise have had. The Japanese ones are big on 'gates' it seems, which is fine but an odd aspect to centre on as ordinarily the passageway to an attraction isn't the attraction itself and, where it is, the place feels a little lacking. I guess it's not about the destination, but the journey. Much like life and, in a similar vein, Game of Thrones. Winter did come. And it was shit.

    After absorbing and appreciating the shrine, and it's gates, we travelled on to our final tour-stop for the day ; Shibuya. This is a significant commercial and business district in Tokyo and home to one of the conceptually-oddest tourist attractions I've ever visited ; the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world.

    We, of course, crossed this crossing along with the swathes of other people going about their day. There were numerous others attempting to film or take selfies within the merging mass of people, to the extent I had to wonder whether it's world-record status was self-fulfilling. Without the participation of the many tourists coming to see/ride the crossing, would it indeed be the busiest? I guess that's something of a thought experiment, insomuch as it's completely inconsequential and generally a waste of brain power that could be applied to actual productivity. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody's around it basically doesn't matter.

    Near to the crossing was a statue of a dog. There was an accompanying sad story relating to the dog that Yukko outlined which caused some in the group to get teary-eyed. Not me though. I wasn't listening.

    We entered one of the nearby buildings, which I think was part of the station (as most buildings in Tokyo appear to be) and went up to a walkway crossing the main road with an excellent view of the pedestrian crossing we'd just experienced. This exact location is, notably, the location of the first hideout in Persona 5. It looked exactly as expected and, being completely out in the open in a public space, remains a stupid place to refer to as a 'hideout'.

    Around half of the group, suffering from Golden-Gai-induced tiredness, at this point went home, but those of us that remained took an elevator up a nearby tower to obtain a sunset view of the ward. As the sun disappeared and the myriad neon signs illuminated and flashed I was struck by a sensation of awe and beauty and that this would be a terrible country for epileptics.

    The original itinerary for the day had proposed a second evening out at a more upmarket, 'fancy' zone in Tokyo, though with so many people departing the attendee list was rapidly depleting. Florian and Veronika were up for it (showing they clearly hadn't drunk enough the previous night), though Ruth wasn't and as for me...my body was willing but my brain knew that (unlike anybody else) I had to be up before 5am the next day for the optional 'Sumo Experience'.

    So, flaking on these plans, our developing foursome travelled back (via an incomprehensibly busy subway train) to Shinjuku to find somewhere to eat, both since it was that time anyway and it transpired Veronika suffers from severe hangriness which if left untreated we don't know what would happen as we never dared let it. Having little success finding places with available seating, and Florian expressing a desire to have Gyoza, I took them to the place a little off the main track I'd been to alone on my first night in the city.

    We of course ordered Gyoza and, as the main to this accompaniment, we opted for the purported 'house speciality' of chicken wings. Contrary to the rest of us, Ruth didn't want them spicy so we were careful to order three spicy portions and one non-spicy portion. This was difficult to relay with the language barrier and ultimately had to be described as 'four portions, one not spicy' with pointing and gestures reinforcing our aim. When the order arrived, we received a humongous stack of four orders of five wings apiece on a single plate and a second plate holding a single, un-flavoured wing.

    Ruth had an unsuccessful stab at scraping the powdered spice coating from the other wings before ordering a further order of unspiced ones. Those of us whose orders had been correctly provided for dug-in, keen to sample whatever exotic spice concoction had been prepared and delicately applied to our fried, dismembered fowl.

    It was pepper. Just pepper. There was no Colonel's secret here; they'd simply removed wing from chicken, cooked it to appropriate tenderness and then dunked it in a presumably-massive vat of a table condiment best enjoyed sparingly. They were inarguably 'spicy', but lacked any element of nuance or technique in their flavouring. Because it was pepper.

    The order mix-up, unique take on meat preparation and general holiday-feeling vibe resulted in much fun and merriment. I'm really starting to like the Germans. Florian does that thing I do where I correct what people say on a technicality of either fact or definition or, ideally, both. It's mildly annoying, which means I'm mildly annoying so we cancel each other out. He's a self-confessed 'foodie' and is set to sample as many of Japan's delicacies as he can manage and, dammit, I want to try them all too! Veronika is just...great. First impressions indicate a degree of intelligence (a masters degree to be specific), she's pretty, funny (like, actual funny, not the funny we pretend people are when they're just pretty), has a really cute laugh that I seem to be able to make happen with decent regularity and chose to supplement her meal with a beer, meaning I'm not the only one at the table ordering a pint (or the Japanese 'medium' size, whatever that is). Yeah...if she was here alone I'd definitely be flirting with her. I probably am a bit anyway.

    Afterward we went for a brief wander through Shinjuku before heading back to the hostel for some much-needed kip ahead of my early-start the next day. Flo and Veronika discussed potentially going out for the fancy night out by themselves, but I don't think they did.
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  • Day5

    Deb with a giant brown bear

    July 15, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Deb waited in line to get this picture. Apparently this brown bear is a big deal

  • Day15


    October 6, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Met 3 of 4 verschillende metro's naar Harayuku gereisd. Ongeveer € 20,- voor een dagkaart. Valt NL nog wel mee ;)
    Paul herinnerde zich met Chris nog dat die overal moest bukken, nu is dat bijna allemaal verhoogd.
    De wijk Harayuku is wel een stuk levendiger/drukker en ook meer toeristen zie je daar dan waar wij zitten met ons hotel.
    Veel jongeren lopen er rond met aparte kleding, maar geen echte harayuku meisjes gezien.
    Onwijs veel winkels, kleine en grote shopmerken zoals zara. Leuke wijk om met vriendinnen een dagje te gaan shoppen ;)

    We waren natuurlijk weer eens verkeerd gelopen en hebben uiteindelijk bij een Spaans/Mexicaans tentje biefstuk gegeten, was lekker :)
    Enige nadeel, Nash had flinke stinkie-dinkie en er was alleen een ienimini toilet, waar Paul alles weer op orde heeft gebracht.
    Teruggegaan naar ons hotel, vlakbij zijn ook allemaal leuke eettentjes, dus dat gaan we morgen maar eens proberen.
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  • Day12

    Day 12 - Shinjuku, Harajuku & Akihabara

    April 7, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    It was a slower start to the morning, we were on a train to Shinjuku shortly after 9am. (Briefly considered visiting Disney Sea, but we were heading in the wrong direction and would not have gotten there before 11am - next time).

    We made our way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building observation deck. Had a brief look up the north tower. After this we headed to Harajuku and had a wander down Takeshita street. Then onto Kiddyland for a look - holey moley expensive toys. We also grabbed some lunch before moving on.

    From here took the train and had a wander of Akihabara. Let the kids buy some toys at Bic camera. And soon it was 3pm and we were all buggered. So back on the train to Yokohama arriving around 4pm.

    At 5:30pm we googled the nearest Coco curry, it was about 500m away from our hotel and away from the hustle of the station. There we had an amazing dinner at a really reasonable rate. From here we walked back to Yokohama station through one of the underground malls (amazing that these are around and if you didn't go down a staircase, you may never know they existed) and caught the train one stop to Sakuragicho station. This is right near Landmark tower, and the 275m heigh sky garden observation floor.

    Lucky for us today only was the anniversary of the Landmark tower and entry was only 200¥, instead of the usual 1000¥ entry price. As we had done the tower during a different trip in the daytime, we didn't spend much time up there. We probably spent about 10mins admiring the lights. Suprisingly, it was only a little bit busy and we had no wait going up or down. We then had a look in the Pokemon store in the same building - its much bigger than others we've seen. 8pm had us back in our hotel room for our last night in Japan.
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  • Day4

    Harajuku, Tokyo

    November 29, 2009 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    In the heart of this street was this super delicious tonkatsu joint that was quiet and not terribly busy. It was a such a contrast to was happening outside. After walking around and window shopping we stopped by this bridge were some cosplayers were hanging out. Did I mention they were fearless?Read more

  • Day10

    Harajuku shopping and mad crowds

    October 8, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    This was a massive change from the peace that was the shrine area. As we headed back towards the main street the wash of people become even more crowded and the rain did nothing to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for shopping.

    It was at this point that we found an acceptable Italian coffee and had lunch

    Harajuku is to Tokyo what rodeo drive is to LA and the shops on offer are seriously high end. It was a great experience to wander and do some very light shopping with the kind of crowds I'd only seen on TV till that point. Unfortunately we didn't get to see many Harajuku girls but we did stop and interact with a robot which was cool.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Jingūmae, Jingumae, 神宮前