Date of Travel: 04/03/2012
As much fun as I had on the previous day, I was glad that all three of us regrouped and explored Tokyo together. It wasn’t quite the same without them afterall. We started the day travelling towards Harajuku, which is well known as the area where many of unusual teenage fashion trends originated from. We bought breakfast from a convenience store and ate just outside of Yoyogi Park. We were hoping to see some people cosplaying or dressed in the latest fashion trends, but instead we came across a marathon! It was interesting to watch anyway. It was also still a bit early so we decided to go explore Takeshita Dori.
Takeshita Dori is an alleyway opposite Harajuku station, and is well known as the place to go to for the outlandish fashion, and is perhaps the heart of the Harajuku district. For some reason, we walked around the block and entered the alleyway from the east end (I think it was because we wanted to see some shops along Omotesando, but most were closed at the time). As we were early, the street was not too crowded, which made it easy to move around and take photos of some of the frilly clothes on sale. There was also an interesting shop called The World Connection that sold a lot of strange and unique items which could make great souvenirs. Caution that there are a number of African hustlers hackling people to go to their shops (selling American baseball caps and the like). They are unlikely to do any harm to you, but can be very annoying to deal with. Best bet is just to walk straight past them and ignore them. Jay-C didn’t however and one of them started following and chatting to him before I walked past and grabbed him away. We exited the alleyway on the west end (near the train station). I was surprised that the popular Takeshita Dori sign at the entrance to the alleyway was missing at the time, and the street was not as recognizable without it.
As it was still quite early, we decided to walk around the block back to the other end of Takeshita Dori to explore Omotesando Street. The thing that caught our attention the most was the Condomania shop which specializes in specialty condoms. There were many malls around the area with very interesting architecture, and definitely enhanced the modern feel of the city. We also dropped by Kiddy Land, which was a store selling a lot of popular toys. There was a section selling Vocaloid dolls…which kind of creep me out somewhat!
We headed back to the train station and decided to buy our lunch from the convenience store and eat inside Yoyogi Park. While we were eating lunch, we were watching groups of Japanese youths performing from scripts. It was an interesting sight to behold. There must have been about five or six different groups going at it at the time. We also came across a large group of cosplayers, and another group of youths dancing. It was great seeing them getting up to such activities! The fun doesn’t stop there either. Outside, a group of Japanese in classic rock and roll outfits were belting out their dance moves like there was no tomorrow! There was also a ballroom dancing couple too. A few minutes later we were bombarded by a group walking dogs dressed in beautiful yukata outfits, and a dog going around on a skateboard! Such liveliness and character of the place really made us fall in love with Yoyogi Park instantly. We were hoping to have a wander around Meiji Shrine, but we were running behind schedule and decided to head to our next stop – Ginza.
Ginza is known as the upmarket shopping street of Tokyo. Many well-known brands have stores here. But none of us are the shopping type. Rather, we were keener on the Sony Building. This place showcases the latest Sony gadgets available, such as cameras/camcorders, audio equipment, and ultra HD television sets. All of these were far outside our price range, but it was fun having a look at the latest technology. While wandering around, I got a call from two of my friends who we planned to meet for dinner. As they were currently free, they wanted to join us as we wander about, which I was more than happy to agree to. We waited at the showroom until they showed up. After we caught up and chatted for a while, we wandered around Ginza, and entered the Hakuhinkan Toy Park. This place sold very unique toys not found in many other places around Japan, including many strange cosplay items. Its upper floors sell more common goods, but we had fun exploring the place.
It was starting to get a bit late by the time we were done with the Toy Park, so we headed over to Ueno Station to wander around the Ameyoko area. This place is a busy market street. A large array of stores can be found here, such as food, fashion, and more. It was quite the experience walking through here, with dozens of store vendors yelling out whatever deals they have on special till their voice started cracking! After wandering for a while, we found another izakaya nearby and had dinner. My friends shouted us majority of the food costs. They would have shouted all if not for us making them agree to let us pay at least 1,000 yen each! It was great catching up with both of them, and we had a great time chatting over dinner.
After dinner, my friends wanted to bring us to an arcade nearby to take some Purikura (sticker photos). However, there was a sign outside telling us that they do not allow only men to use the machines! I have no idea why. We did joke about going around picking up girls just so that we could use the machine! We returned back to Ueno station, were we found a female passer-by to take our photos for us with our cameras. We did joke that we should also ask her to come with us back to the arcade too! All of us ended up going in the same direction, so we chatted with each other for quite a long time on the train. We parted ways with them along the way, and headed back to my other friend’s place in Mitaka. There, we chatted with him for quite some time again. It would be the last night we would spend with him before heading to another accommodation in Tokyo city itself. We started packing our luggage for the first time in six days, then headed off to bed.
Train from Mitaka to Harajuku – 290 yen
Train from Harajuku to Yurakucho – 190 yen
Subway from Ginza to Ueno – 160 yen
Train from Ueno to Mitaka – 380 yen
N/A […seriously, saving so much money thanks to my friend…]
Breakfast from convenience store – 361 yen [Honey soft bread, mocha-chocolate donut, hotdog]
Lunch from convenience store next to Harajuku station – 560 yen [Yakisoba bread, onigiri, omelette riceball, sandwich]
Dinner with friends at Ameyoko – 1,000 yen
N/A ~All Free~
Souvenir at The World Connection @ Harajuku for friends – 1,197 yen [pencil case, pens]
TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
4,138 yen (541,463 yen total)