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05/10/2016

A Day in Harajuku

Takeshita

Takeshita Street (source)

A few weeks ago, my friends and I decided to take on Harajuku and spend our Monday off exploring Japan’s fashion central. Harajuku is known for its colorful, lolita fashion and its trendy shops that line the streets. The day started by making the trek from my homestay to the nearest station (which I could probably do blindfolded by now…). The line that always take to Tokyo, Keihin Tohoku, took me to Shinagawa where I transferred to the Yamanote line to complete the trip to Harajuku station.

As soon as I exited Harajuku station, it was very apparent that I was in a very different area from my school. I was facing the entrance to Takeshita street, one of the more touristy spots in Harajuku because of its crepe stands and cute boutiques. There was a woman singing very loudly and dressed quite colorfully right by the entrance to Takeshita street which was quite a sight. Once everyone had arrived we proceeded to Takeshita street and entered the mass of people that were flooding through the various shops. You can find just about any type of fashion here, from cutesy/girly to more trendy street wear in Harajuku which draws in a large variety of people. The group found a Lotteria (common McDonalds-like joint in Asia) for lunch and after we decided to explore the famous Meiji Jinja, or Meiji Shrine.

Like many places in Tokyo, shrines (Shinto) or temples (Buddhist) are near even the busiest shopping areas. The shrine was less than a 10 minute walk from Takeshita street and was free to enter. The shrine was absolutely beautiful and reminded me of walks in the park back home. At the entrance of shrines, there is a torii, or a gate marking the beginning of the shrine complex. Once you pass the torii, the road lined with the most majestic looking trees leads to the shrine itself. Meiji Shrine is named after Emperor Meiji who is enshrined there along with his consort Empress Shoken (more info here).

Jinja

Torii at Meiji Jinja (source)

It was very relaxing as we walked through the forested area and it makes you appreciate the nature more after being surrounded by skyscrapers in the city. The main shrine was filled with people coming to pray and watch the monks in the inner shrine quarters perform their rituals and activities. Many people also come to write their wishes on small wooden plaques and hang them up to ensure that their prayers will be answered (I am planning on doing this probably in Kamakura). We spent quite a bit of time roaming around the shrine grounds and then decided to head back towards the main streets, specifically Ometesando.

Omo

Omotesando – window shopping at its finest (source)

This street and surrounding buildings are known the high end shops (more internationally well-known brands like Chanel, All Saints, Opening Ceremony) and big Western retailers like H&M and F21. There are also a handful of shops that are second hand retailers of expensive brands (Goodwill 5.0), like Ragtag Harajuku, which we briefly stopped in to take a look. The prices are marked down (still expensive…) but with very minimal wear n’ tear if any. The group split ways soon after and we headed back to station to take the trains home. Harajuku was amazing and is definitely worth multiple trips!

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