I’m a little fuzzy headed this morning. I get up, get dressed and head straight to Harajuku Bridge on the subway in the hope of spotting the Harajuku girls. Unfortunately there is no sign of these colourful characters hanging out on the bridge but as I walk back down Takeshita Street I see lots of girls in crazy clothes and matching coloured hair. Candy floss pink, schoolgirls, Victorian doll inspired, even some of the guys are dressed like animé characters. I stroll around looking at all of the shops and stalls with whacky wears on display. I buy make a purchase from a shop that specialises in Japanese stickers! I get a free hug off a lady who is standing on the busy street holding up a “FREE HUG” sign, although she is far too gentle, I give her a far more satisfying squeeze. Then I head to some of the designer shops. They too are whacky in their own way. One men’s clothes shop has an old battered caravan parked in the middle with clothes hung off of it. At the MoMA design store I fall for a set of rainbow chopsticks, the ideal traveller’s Japanese souvenir – light weight, flat, reasonably cheap and totally Japanese.they instantly make me hungry. I see a line of people queuing for sushi (a long line is always a good sign). I join it and chat to the couple in front of me who are vacationing from NewYork. Watching the food pass before me, sipping on a green tea, chopsticks poised, about to board the sushi train, I’m in my happy place.
With a full tum, my next stop is Akihabara, better known as Electric City. This place is culturally very different from anything I’ve ever experienced before. A wide avenue lined with electrical stores, selling all manner of electrical items from cables to computers, cameras to iPads. Pretty normal stuff. However scattered amongst these stores are manga comic book stores, animé toy model shops, gaming arcades, lots of very sweet food outlets and the bizarre phenomenon of the maid cafes. Young girls dressed as cartoon maids wearing hair bunches, soft toys pinned to their outfits, frilly skirts, leaning from 1st floor balconies miming childlike songs to the crowds below. Inside a girl dances on a stage entertaining ice cream eaters and beer drinkers – it’s all a bit too weird for me and I refrain from entering this weird world. I do have a look around some of the comic bookshops which is fun but I’m horrified to discover that on floor 3 the comics get a tad explicit. Shifty looking grown men shuffle up the stairs without gaining eye contact. Odd. Very odd. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like the manga drawings and can appreciate the skill of the art, but characters dressed in school uniform, heaving breasts threatening buttons, some totally exposed and skirts far too short – I just don’t get cartoon porn!
I buy a sickly sweet banana, chocolate, vanilla custard, cream and crunch crepe (for the shock!). My teeth sing with each sugary bite. I also buy myself an animé t-shirt and then check out the tax free cameras to replace my broken one. They are so cheap here, and it’s tax free because I’m leaving the country and I get an additional 7% off because I have a 3 day subway card. Brilliant.
I leave the weirdness of Electric City, quite the eye opener, and head on the train to Odaiba, a man made reclaimed island in Tokyo port. I ride on the new Yurikamoma train that zooms over the rainbow bridge. I disembark at the aqua world shopping precinct, for some reason they have a down sized replica of the Statue of Liberty. Tokyo skyline cityscape at night is lovely viewed from here. I look across the water at the twinkling lights of Tokyo but I’m distracted by the illuminating light show on a huge building behind me. Lights in the windows flash and change colour in unison orchestrated to music – it’s quite hypnotic. It’s getting a bit cold so I warm myself window shopping inside the shopping mall, then find a Japanese restaurant where I dine on edamame beans, Skewered chicken with leek and gyoza served on a sizzling hot plate. Yummy! oishi!
I’m so tired riding the subway back to Shinjuku. It’s been a long day on little sleep with a slight hangover. I’m eager to climb into my comfy capsule and sleep. Just before I close my eyes I have good news from Ayumi about tomorrow afternoon!