Japan: Tokyo – Harajuku

Japan

Over the past two weeks I have actually been in Japan, one of the most amazing countries I have ever been to. I stayed in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka before flying back home (something I was very reluctant to do). So while I will be posting non-travel stuff too, the bulk of my posts for a while are all going to be about Japan. Starting with my first evening in Japan when Sister and I went to explore Harajuku.

Gwen Stefani’s version of Harajuku is nothing like the real live version of Harajuku, mainly because her version is disturbing and wrong). The term refers to a subculture within Japanese culture where people dress up as goths, lolitas and a multitude of things in between. Yoyogi Park is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon (early afternoon) if you want to see some of the most incredible outfits and looks.

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By the time Sister and I made it to Yoyogi Park it was too late in the day to take our voyeurism to new heights, so instead we went to Meiji Jingyu, a shrine in a park neighbouring Yoyogi. Japan is full of shrines but this was the first one I had seen and it was beautiful. So beautiful.

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We weren’t able to go inside the shrine as it had closed by then but we could explore the grounds, and we could perform Temizu, where we wash our hands and mouth. It was such a peaceful, ritualistic thing to do, I loved it and made sure I did it in every shrine we visited next.

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We then headed into Yoyogi Park, and even if it was empty of subcultured youths, it was heaving with people. And with flowers. After spending some time there and finding the fountain in the middle, we headed towards, what I like to call, Harajuku proper (ie less greenery and more urbanisation). There we ended up in Gyoza Ro, a delicious dumpling place where the words ‘cheap’ and ‘delicious’ went hand in hand.

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This was the kind of place you know is good because it is full of locals and locals are queuing up to get in. Gyoza Ro only sells pork dumplings so as a vegetarian I couldn’t eat them, but Sister did and she loves them. I stuck to their cucumber salad and pickled cabbage, which were incredibly delicious. The cucumber had a miso based sauce on it which was delicious.

By then the sun had truly set and Harajuku was alive! We took a long wall through the streets, shopping and sightseeing. Great end to our first evening in Tokyo.

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