Well, we’ll take a short train ride at some point, but I’ll get you through on my Suica card, ok? The boys have gone to see a ship in Kamakura or thereabouts, so I’m happy to have company.
Hope you’ve got comfy shoes on.
Our travelling companions will stay and wave to us from the window. No doubt they’ll have their own adventure today!
Following this not-quite-as-young-as-he-thinks man to downtown Shinjuku, I note the caption on his jacket “Duty Calls! The World War 1 Flying Ace Must Carry On!” Goes well with the pink umbrella, I think.
Outside the station, I need to go down an escalator and I notice I’m following the “smoking police”. Smoking is strictly forbidden on the streets here, except in designated places, and I have seen many of these elderly gentlemen ensuring that everyone behaves.
We’re heading for Okadaya, first stop of the day. Seven floors of everything you might possibly need to sew, knit, dress up, make jewellery…whatever.
Except for the one thing I was hoping to find – darning wool! I envisaged they’d have it on cards, like the silk thread above, in many colours, because at home I can only get “school colours”. Sadly, there’s none to be found and I don’t know the Japanese for “darning wool” either…do you?
Oh yes, there are a few bits of Clover goodness here which will be revealed in a future post. Also, some metal bag closures of the “sprung” type which I think could be useful. I’m not sure I’m going to remember how to use them though, so a photo of the details is going to come in handy later.
Right, we’re done here. Let’s walk back past the station and over to Tokyu Hands. I’m resisting the temptation to go into this electronic store though – not enough customers in there yet and we’ll get pounced on by eager salespeople!
Tokyu Hands is a treasure trove of all things for “the creative life”. Including special punches to use on sheets of seaweed to create faces on your child’s rice balls in their lunch boxes. Seeing the huge range of shapes and presses for decorating sandwiches and lunch ingredients, I think the Japanese mother must be pressured to work wonders on the humble packed lunch, because surely the children compare with one another? Can you imagine going to the trouble of putting faces on things day after day?
Oho, look what’s there (where I least expect it) It’s today’s new KitKat flavour, “Yuzu Citrus and Japanese Chili Flavor”. Oh my goodness, we’ll have to try one of those.
A few more bits to find in the stationery department and an hour or so later, I think it’s time to head for Shinjuku Station, from where we’ll take the Yamanote (lime green) line to Harajuku, to get a little culture.
It’s not too busy from the look of things and as usual, there’s a train due in just a couple of minutes. The frequency is terrific – every five minutes or so.
I’ve written about travelling on Japanese trains before, so we’ll go straight to Harajuku Station, a popular place with young fashionistas (and their male equivalents). It’s here where, on a Sunday, they gather to dress up and take photographs, but today is more subdued and anyway, I have a plan. Let’s turn right out of the station and go over the bridge.
This is the entrance to the Meiji Shrine, set in leafy parkland. The wide avenue leads down through the trees and past one of the Emperor’s collections – casks of French wine. I’m not sure if they are really full of what is on the label. Who knows?
At the entrance to the shrine itself, there’s the trough of water and the bamboo cups. There’s a ritual for visiting the temple and all of this is explained on the panel above, in both English and Japanese. These local chaps were taking photographs themselves, so I felt they wouldn’t mind if I did too.
Right, come on…let’s go into the shrine itself, through the gateway and to the little gift shop selling a few little good luck trinkets.
Look at this fantastic design on the gateway.
What do you reckon to this fastening?
Over to one side, there are people writing on these wooden boards and a helpful notice, again in both English and Japanese has suggestions for what we might request.
Further over, at the entrance to the inner sanctum, there is a wooden box with a sign. What do you reckon? Shall we have a go?
Wow…by some good fortune, we picked out a poem which is not only very apt for today but also written in English!
“Though you should fall behind your travelling companions, never turn your steps aside from the rightful path” Emperor Meiji
Let’s take a look in this exhibition of treasures, too, shall we? Sadly, no photos inside, but I think you’ll agree, that’s some kimono there! Beautifully embroidered and many layered, it looked extremely heavy to wear.
Let’s head out of the park now and see where those girlies were off to. What do you think to the outfit in front? Creating quite a stir with her curly hair (seldom seen here on young women) and very fancy skirt with petticoats underneath, her face is beautifully made up with very pink rosy cheeks.
We’ll follow her to Takeshitadori, a narrow street with many small stores on it, mostly resembling “Claires”.
Oh, it is Claires!
Let’s take a rest at Starbucks just here. Fancy a “Sakura (cherry blossom) Frappucino”? Yummy!
Interestingly, all the sizes are one down from both UK and USA. “Tall” is quite small, which makes me think that Japanese visitors to America must get an awful shock when their coffee is delivered in what even to me, is an intimidating quantity.
Put your feet up, watch the theatre on the street – boys are wearing hiphop fashion with tall peaked caps and very baggy trousers. Girls are favouring the loosely tied plaid scarf in a dark tartan.
I am feeling old.
We’ll start again in the next post.