(metanote for those following via livejournal: lots of cuts? one big cut? no cuts at all? I normally only cut for really big images, on the theory that long text scrolls are what the page-down button is made for, but I know I’m being pretty verbose here, and I’m happy to cater to people’s needs. Anyway, trying the ‘lots of cuts’ approach this time.)
Sunday morning found us rolling out of bed at the inhumanly late hour of 8am. Perhaps not quite fully on local time, but at least our nightlife expedition led to us being asleep during hours that could be more or less described as “night.” Since we were changing hotels, we packed up as quickly as we could, and lugged our bags onto the metro and over to Shibuya station. From there, it took us a mere 20 minutes of staring at the street atlas and asking several people for directions until we found our new hotel, which was merely a 40-story tower looming over Shibuya with its name emblazoned on the top.
Our room wasn’t going to be ready until 2pm, and it was still only around 10, so we did a bit of quick on-the-spot repacking (undoubtedly annoying the hell out of every other person in the lobby, of whom there were mercifully few), gave our larger bags to the bellhop, and headed back out into the heat towards the day’s objectives: Yoyogi park, home of cosplayers and rock bands, and Harajuku, Tokyo’s notorious youth fashion district.
Did I mention the heat? Tokyo is famously uncomfortable in the summer, but for the first few days it hadn’t been that bad: warm and humid to be sure, but only in the low-to-mid 80s or so. No worse than Zurich had been, and nothing on (say) an August day in Manhattan. On Sunday though, Tokyo let us know that it had just been toying with us and put the spurs in: it was easily 90 in the shade, and so humid that the line between walking and swimming was uncomfortably blurred. I have to say: I haven’t missed this kind of weather at all, and will be perfectly happy to go back to chilly, foggy San Francisco when the moment comes.
Somehow we managed to make it into the park without me completely deliquescing, and we grabbed a shaded park bench so I could wolf down my food. This improved my outlook on life about a thousandfold, and I actually took notice of the fact that I was in a lovely urban park and there were things happening around me. Just down the sidewalk, Yoyogi’s famous rock and roll bands were setting up their generators and their drumsets. One band was even playing a first set, but they were being drowned out by the noise of what appeared to be a stand-up Taiko drum troupe twenty feet away from them.
Oh well, cosplay or no, it was time to start exploring Yoyogi. Figuring we’d come back to the bands once they were a little more geared up, we first wandered through what appeared to be a combination flea market and Earth Day fare, where we found that even Tokyo has hippies:
On the way up the path, there was a sign pointing to “restrooms, cafe, gift shop and wedding arrangers”, and if that last one sticks out a little, well…
Weddings at the Meiji shrine turned out to be very popular. We saw no less than three (possibly four; it got a little hard to keep track after a while) wedding processions going on, of which the bride above was part of the first. She was standing on a pillow, being laboriously sewn into the outer sections of her kimono, while a small horde of tourists (not to mention the official wedding photographers) snapped away. Eventually, her husband joined her.
Next to where we were sitting and eating, a Britney/Janet/Abdul-esque dance troupe was practicing their moves:
Closer to the park’s entrance was the rockabilly area, and there was some serious dedication to fashion going on there. The temperature felt like it was cracking 100f at this point, and the air could charitably be described as “soupy,” but that didn’t stop these guys from flying the colors — and in this case, the colors were “black,” “black” and “more black.” Even from a few meters away, sweat was visibly running off them, but that didn’t stop them from pulling on the leathers and putting eggwhites in their pompadours:
Heading out toward the park towards Harajuku, we passed what apparently is the bitter dregs of Tokyo’s cosplay scene. Interestingly , a good 25-33% of the kids in costume were caucasian. Dunno if they were tourists, exchange students or residents, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this ratio officially marked the cosplay phenomenon as over:
Harajuku is where Tokyo’s 10,000kph youth culture goes to see, be seen, and buy new outfits. And holy god, the outfits. Picking two random examples out of thousands of completely insane stores, we have “Wonder Rocket”, the Alice in Wonderland themed clothing store, the mere sight of which would have made Lewis Carroll die of priapism:
And then about a block or so later, we found… this:
Never quite figured out the name, but it was like a head-on collision between Patricia Field, Vivienne Westwood and a paint factory:
After about six blocks of Harajuku, we’d had more than enough, so we took a quick detour over to the Togo Shine, where Miranda had read that there was a flea market going on every weekend. The market was still mostly setting up when we got there, but the shrine is, yes, to that Togo, so it afforded this astonishing shot:
Also at the shrine was… another wedding:
By this point, it was nearing 3pm, and we were tired and dehydrated. Time to head back to our hotel, claim our room, and explore Shibuya. Which will be the next chapter.