Monday, 1 December 2008

Harajuku, Tokyo


On our second day of exploring Tokyo, we decided to visit Harajuku.

I had a great afternoon and evening exploring the area, despite being disappointed by the supposedly two main attractions of the district.

Harajuku is famous for Harajuku girls, or the young fashionistas who strut their stuff on Ometasando and hang around the entrance of Yoyogi Park. Perhaps we were unlucky in not seeing any of the true Harajuku girls, but I think it takes quite a lot to make Londoners who have spent time in Camden stop and stare.

The second big attraction of the area is the Meiji Shrine, which is a Shinto shrine that was built to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. First opened in the 1920s it was rebuilt in 1958 having been destroyed in WWII. The tall and dramatic Torii gates at the entrance to the park are an impressive way to approach the shrine. I was a little less impressed with the shrine itself. The temple was smaller than I expected and the buildings were a little too "perfect", there was no apparent craftsmanship on display. Even the harvest festival couldn't warm my spirits and I somehow didn't fall for the Meiji Shrine.

What I did love about the area was getting lost in the side streets around Ometasando. There were lots of cool little boutiques and shops. Vintage and second hand fashion, hat shops, younger designers and famous brands. It was like Carnaby Street meets Camden meets Covent Garden, with a healthy dose of Tokyo style. And I don't normally like shopping!

There was quite a strong French culinary influence to the area too, with lots of French style cafes and restaurants dotted around.

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