harajuku & omotesando : january 05
Haven't talked about my New Year's resolutions have I?
That's probably because I didn't make any and won't. Of course looking at years past, it's always been about losing weight and working out more. And believe me, there's no difference every year. So why make any resolutions at all if it's the same year after year. Screw it.
I sat here last night into the wee hours of the morning after I uploaded the squats entry and reflected on my 2000. It's been a rough year...and a very difficult one for me. That is the reason why Christmas cards from moi are not flowing into your mailboxes. Why talk about the sad and the bad during the season of holiday cheer...
"Turned the big 3-0 this year...got really ill with a condition doctors can't find the answer to. Going through a helluva lot of red tape, and medical politics. Tried acupuncture and came out a human pincushion. Lost my job. Dad had a heartattack. Living from government check to government check. Oh and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
Somehow, that just doesn't quite do it for me.
Of course, I shouldn't think about all the bad things since there are good points too.
"Started a measly web journal and amazingly people actually read my stuff and I've made many a good friends through this medium. Got to go to Napa in August with my girlfriends. Also went to Julian with K in September. Finally wrapped up the year with a blowout trip to Hong Kong and Japan where I saw my ultimate favorite band in their farewell concert."
Not bad but I would give all of that up to have my health back and to not have to go through all the stuff I'm going through right now. Well everything, except for the concert part that is. ;)
Let's hope 2001 will have better stuff in store for me. *cheers* <clink>
Christmas Eve 2000. Decided to take the subway out to Harajuku again today. Although I was in Harajuku with K a week and half ago, I wanted to go back again on a Sunday and in daytime. It's actually my third trip back out here but just the vibe of the place makes me wanna go back again and...again.
On my last two visits, I used the Yamanote JR (Japan Railways) Line to get to the Harajuku station. This station is something from the past. None of that underground concrete labyrinth to cut through and none of those mile high escalators to stand on. You arrive into Harajuku station on an outdoor platform with trees paneling one side of the tracks. The makeshift wooden platform takes you back to the train depots of yesteryears. Certainly something you don't see much of in today's Tokyo. It's a small station but there are two main exits.
The first exit will take you near the beginning of the infamous stretch of Omotesando where designer shops, upscale boutiques and quaint cafes inhabit the elm-lined street. Here you can find good ole J.Crew, Gap, Hanae Mori and Issey Miyake all dotted about on one street. Omotesando is different from all the other shopping areas in Tokyo. It's outdoors for one and you can leisurely stroll on its sidewalks purveying the local artists handiwork and artwork on the weekends as they lay out all their goods to be sold on the pavement. Reminds me alot of Old Town Pasadena.
You can also take the Ginza Subway Line (or any other line that will get you to Omotesando) and get off at Omotesando to take you near the Aoyama Dori and Omotesando intersection and make your way up to the Harajuku Station.
Nothing quite beats a crisp cool sunny Christmas Eve to stroll around Omotesando. I pass by a place that serves only tea exclusively. Looks quaint and I bet it's expensive too. I climb a set of stairs to catch the view of the entire stretch of Omotesando from above. I snap a few pics of the tree-lined streets and move on.
Omotesando intersects both Meiji Dori and Aoyama Dori along its path and between these blocks, the perpendicular small alleys all contain shops to explore and alot of things to see if you're not afraid to go off the beaten path.
I walk past a large group of people that always seems to sit outside the Gap at the intersection of Meiji Dori and Omotesando. Alot of photographers are nearby with giant cameras, no doubt damn expensive ones too, hanging around their necks. They are posing girls from off the streets for some pictures. Ah, they are definitely photographers for magazines. Japan has several publications like Fruits and Qawaii that always captures the newest and funkiest teenage/young adult fashions from straight off the streets. And there's no better place to find shit like that than Harajuku.
Make my way back toward the station and turn right. I pass by a huge ass Snoopy store that's straight across from the train station. I keep walking another 500 feet or so and hit one of the busiest places to hang out.... Takeshita Dori.
Takeshita Dori is a small and narrow alley/street that is only for pedestrians. You can also access its direct entrance by using the second exit from the Harajuku Station or entering it from the opposite end at Meiji Dori.
You can't miss the entrance. It has this pseudo-gateway with some funky design towering over you. You head downhill a bit to get straight into it. The first time I came here was at night and it was absolutely packed. There are a ton of clothing shops for both guys and gals that veer a bit on the funky side for all you conservative folks out there. There's also a slew of fast food stuff and cafes too to take your chain smoking break at and have a cup of joe.
It's one busy ass place. People are young. Music is loud. Lots to see. Lots to take in. I notice a Caucasian family strolling about with their cameras around their necks and the parents keeping their young cautiously close by. They must think the Japanese are scary here. Definitely not the usual stereotype of the quiet, docile Asian they see on tv.
In fact, Takeshita Dori has alot of what the Japanese call, ganguro (sp). Ganguros are young females who get super dark tans and then wear super dark brown foundation and makeup with lots of white eyeshadow and white lipstick. You have to visually see one in real life to take in its impact. Most of them have either reddish brown or blonde hair. Aside from their trademark panda eyes...they also sport amazingly high and dangerous platform shoes.
You think you know platform shoes? You don't know shit till you've seen some of the stuff I've encountered in Japan. Platform shoes that elevate the wearer another 5-8 inches is common my friends. The most popular colors are brown, white and black. Just looking at them makes my ankles twist in pain. No wonder there are some laws in Japan that don't allow the wearers of these shoes to drive in them. One girl walked downhill in front of me and I think a Chinese courtesan with bound feet could move faster than her!
It's dangerous to see them wearing it at that height. I've encountered several girls who fell in them while going to and fro in the subway stairs. Which explains all the scars on the knees. Most wobble about in these sky-high soles along with short shirts and tight tops. Interesting sight. Really...interesting.
As I venture along Takeshita Dori, I stop in a record store and purchase a couple used cds. I keep on moving along and take in the smell of the crepes cooking up. It's a sea of heads in front and in back of you. It's so crowded that you really need to watch your belongings too.
Around halfway down the stretch, a few single guys stand around and as I pass by one black dude, he reaches out and grabs my elbow, saying, "kiite. kiite" (listen, listen). I quickly shook him off and kept walking without even looking at him. You'll find alot of guys like him in Japan. Some target single girls only (which I'll talk about in another entry) and other are just trying to sell you something...such as sex shows, drugs, or perhaps hostess clubs too.
You'll find quite a bit of black people in Japan. It's probably the Japanese admiration for the hip hop scene that has brought about such a huge boom of opportunities for them. But hearing them speak, you know they are not all from America, in fact, most of them have a Jamaican or perhaps Haitian accent. It's funny, I see more black people in Japan than I do here in LA.
If you're really into Japanese Pop or Rock or perhaps you like their celebrities - then you should definitely visit Takeshita Dori. When you first enter the street via the Harajuku Station side, you walk about 20 steps before you hit a tiny alley off to your right. Don't be afraid, go on in. There are small stalls to your left and near the end of the short alley, there is one store on the right that sells a ton and I mean a TON of Jpop and Jrock pictures of your favorite singer or band member.
The pictures are displayed like a hanging plastic curtain with rows upon rows that you can flip up and choose from. Grab a sheet of paper from next to the hanging curtain and grab a pencil and mark down the number for the appropriate picture you want to buy. Be sure to mark the ones you found at the entrance of the store and the ones at the back of the store separately because the pictures are stocked in different areas and will have recurring numbers. Don't say I didn't tell you. You can also buy posters, pins, stickers, and even take one of those Neo-Prints with your favorite singer too. What better way to trip your friends out with eh?
Needless to say, I wasted alot of good earned money there.
When you head back out onto the main street of Takeshita Dori...go straight across the way and you will find another store similar to the one I just mentioned. However, this one has more pictures of your favorite celebrities, talents and movie stars. Why, they even have good ole Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise in there too! Haha!
Takeshita Dori ends on Meiji Dori. You can hang a right and check out store like Aqua Girl which is a popular girlie clothing store, plus there's a HMV in the basement of one of the buildings nearby. Or you can always grab yourself a nice crepe and sit your ass down and watch people like I did.
More Christmas Eve 2000 tomorrow. Please excuse any typos in spelling or grammar...I'm tired.