On Tuesday, I thought the alarm on the phone was set but it didn’t ring so we slept in until 10 or so. We showered, dressed, claimed everything we needed and headed down to eat breakfast in the family restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. The food was yummy and the prices were awesome!
We bothered the desk clerks some more for some maps and such of the subway and headed to the Hiro subway station where we bothered the attendant there with all sorts of questions of “How does this work” And “Is this ticket right?”
Scaredy cat Wendy made me go first through the electronic ticket readers, even though we didn’t know how. Of course, I looked silly when I didn’t put my ticket in and the “gate” closed on me. Oh well – practice makes perfect, right? So, once we figured out how to get into the station, we went to the right platform and waited.
We were both nervous. This was my first subway experience and hers, too, I think; however, it was awesome! It was quick and I could see someone with a sensitive stomach becoming sick but it was very convenient and pretty cheap. Frequent, too. I definitely see why many Japanese people don’t have cars or use them often. (That, and walking and biking are both much more common than in the States. Some say because there’s simply no parkign space.)
We found our stop easily. It was the next one, as someone had instructed us and there were electronic marquees above all the subway doors as well as an overhead announcement. We departed and got to go on the fun journey of figuring out how to get out of the station, now, and find the train station to get to Harajuku.
We finally figured that out, but mistakenly purchased tickets for the subway again. I figured we could use them for the trip home, and we did. So we got to the train station which was slightly more confusing but a nice man helped us out, we purchased tickets and found our platform. A short wait later, we were on a train which was significantly more packed than the subway. And shortly after that, we arrived at Harajuku.
According the the map the hotel gave us (this map exactly), the train station (JR Harajuku) was right near one of the main streets of Harajuku, which it was. So we crossed the street and were in the shopping district.
So we headed straight and covered about 7 blocks of Gothic, Lolita, lingerie, book and shoe stores. Wendy bought a lot. I did not. It was hot and the stores were small and cramped, even without the hundreds of people we passed by. And, after a point many of the stores started to look exactly a like.
We took a break to have some crepes which were great. I’ve had crepes in Japan before and while I’m not sure why a French dessert is so popular here, I’m not complaining.
Unfortunately, clothes shopping for me in Japan is virtually impossible. I did actually stop into a bunch of lingerie stores but nothing would fit. Their band sizes don’t even go up to what I wear, which is pretty common and although their cup sizes are supposed to be the same, they’re not. I was falling out of a cup size bigger than what I normally wear. -l-
A lot of the stores have knick knacks and trinkets of the store you might find at a garage sale, specialty store or comic shop in the USA. Much of it was used, and you could tell. In the back of the name brand clothing store, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Disney characters or Star Wars toys; it was quite bizarre.
I did particularly like Pin Cross and the Mad label which many of the EGL stores carried. I’d link but neither store nor label seems to have an official site. Pin Cross was where Wendy bought her Creepers, which was one of the requirements of things to do in Harajuku.
At the end of that street, we turned left and headed to Book Off which was one of the few things Wendy wanted to see. We hit Book-off and H Naoto, both places Wendy was dying to shop. About this time, I was becoming tired and cranky so we browsed around the building H Naoto was in, including a J-rock CD store – the first of which we found, btw; J-rock seems to be rather underground here, even in Tokyo – and headed back the way we came.
It took 5 or so hours for us to go less than a mile with the number of shops and people. I was definitely all shopped out and, by that time, we didn’t have time to see anything touristry. I would have loved to go sightseeing and see something like a temple. -sigh- Alas, I’m here for more than a year, still.
We wrapped up the trip by stopping by a shop we’d passed on the way down and I purchased some Gizmo slippers I had my eye on! They were super cute and just another example of the niche that American cult-classics seem to have in Japan.
We headed back via the train to Ebisu where we transferred to the subway to Hiro station where we departed and headed back to our hotel. Unfortunately, I was a little disoriented and mistakenly assume we were on the wrong side of the street and headed the wrong direction. >_> We figured it out after a couple blocks and reversed route back to the hotel, stopping at Mcdonald’s on the way.
We ate at the hotel, stopped downstairs at the bar and each had a Strawberry margarita. IT was a bit exciting because it was my first bar drink. -laughs- We hung out in the hotel room until we decided to order room service because, dammit, we were in a hotel and we could! We finished out the night quietly but it was fun.
Wednesday, we rose early to board the bus and head back. It was mostly uneventful, no octopus tentacles this time. We arrived back on base earlier than expected, again, and the girl across from us drove us back to our apartment which was nice of her. I felt bad because I’d never caught her name. Oh well.