Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 4 - Lolis

Our fourth day of this Japanese Odyssey was set to be a day of high teen fashion dedicated to shopping. We would start at a loli shopping street and make our pilgrimage to their Mecca.

At 7am we were out of bed and at the breakfast nook of our hotel, a restaurant on the bottom floor. Food was included with the price of the room. There is a choice between western style which consists of some kind of sausage, bread, jelly, and milk, and Japanese style, which is tomago, rice, fish, two kinds of soup, and some stuff which I think you are supposed to put on the rice, I think this because that is what
I saw the Japanese folks do so I copied them. We ate and headed out the door to our first destination.


There we were, standing at the gateway to the world renowned Takeshita Dori street, the place to go for all of your loli needs.

My first glimpse of the fabled McHotdog. It would be days before I could taste it.

We arrived before the stores opened so we took an unplanned side trip to kill time around the block and came across a little garden pond.

A nice little turtle. Fish.

And a cherry blossom tree tucked away.

Continuing on..

"A mere 3 minute walk" back to where we started. Well then, that sounds easy enough. We rounded the corner and instead of the empty street we left earlier we were faced with the masses of Japanese girls that we would be up against for the rest of the day


We went through the crowds and she made her way to the Harajuku Closet Child. She shopped and shopped and I stood and watched.

Random view from the balcony of the store overlooking what we found to be an incredibly popular item amongst the young Japanese of Tokyo.

Crepes. Yup. Everywhere along the street and elsewhere that we found in Tokyo, crepes are a very popular item, there sure are enough people out there talking about it. I have no idea why but we adapted to the culture quite quickly and bought right into it by buying ourselves a couple of them. They were soft and tasty.

We stopped at Daiso (one of the biggest 100 yen stores) picked up some trinkets and some wraps for my toes (I predicted my feet to be destroyed with all this walking we were doing), and finished exploring the street.

Yay shopping.

At the end of the road we started our voyage to Shibuya and made a couple side stops.

Milk, which was featured by America's Next Top Model, and way out of our price range, and down the street from that is..

Condommania, which is about the size of a cubicle on the inside but it has a catchy looking outside.

Up the street we stopped at Kiddy Land, half a dozen floors of every possible Japanese toy imaginable, and these..


They also had the import food row, for all of the rare and exotic foods not found in Japan.

Heh. Nothing like seeing all those cheap East Coast Pretzels on their fancy import rack, must be how they feel when they see their cheap Japanese beer being sold here at a premium.

I bought my first thing in Japan, a bubble wrap simulator.

Outside of the store we saw yet another crepe store and continued up the street.

We found a riceball place and stopped in.

The remaining portions of an octopus ball that I had. Quite tasty and also warmed up.

Along the way..

Many of dozens and dozens of vending machines we passed on our walk. The girl that is featured on all of the Coke Zero ads (and they are everywhere) is Namie Amuro, just in case you were wondering.

As we kept walking the neon grew in frequency and in the distance I could see the famed Shibuya Crossing, or at least see the masses of people scrambling across it. After stopping at a Barbie clothing store for humans we waited at the edge of the street and prepared to make our way across the street.

Woo. The video does not quite convey the craziness that is the Shibuya Crossings. Hundreds of people crossing every possible direction, all going at the same time. As sad as it may sound it was actually a bunch of fun to cross the street with them all.

From there we saw the final destination of today's trip, the place where all teen girls must voyage to once in their lives in order to be made complete.

Shibuya 109.

Imagine yourself in a 9 story dance club with blasting techno music and excited young people, but instead of dance floors you have 100s of stores. For a girl it would be one of the most amazing shopping places on Earth, for me it was a mind numbing "cultural" experience.

Out we went back onto the streets. We found a Sega arcade and stopped in.

Played some House of the Dead EX, which is a strange zombie love mini game compilation.

I know how to handle a gun.

We also saw a Typing of the Dead arcade cabinet, which I never knew existed outside of the home PC market, and even that I thought was a joke. It's a zombie shooting game mixed with a typing tutor.She played some more UFO catcher machines (won nothing).

We also had our first run in with the insanity that are Tokyo arcade photo booths. Unlike the little ones that you find on the boardwalk or at your local mall, the Japanese booths are taken to a whole new level. An entire floor of an arcade will be dedicated to them with girls arriving with entire suitcases filled with outfits to put on. They have clothing and wig rentals available as well. From what I gathered it's an insanity of flashing lights, music, post picture editing and doodling, and from what you see on that photo, no boys allowed unless they have a date. Wild stuff.

Before we went home we stopped for some ramen. They way many ramen places work in Japan (Tokyo at least) is that you put your money into a machine, select what you want from a large list, push the button, and you get a ticket printed. The ticket is then handed to the server and it's passed on to the cook, a few minutes later you get your food and you eat happily.

Best ramen I have ever had, ever, anywhere.

Afterwards we found a puppy store and looked around, went back to Ueno, climbed the hill to our hotel, and passed out.


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