Saturday, April 12, 2008

Harajuku And The Terima Kaseh Guy

March 24, 2008
~ a continuation from the first part ~
After almost more than a year living in Japan, I have yet to pay a visit to Harajuku; which explains why I marked it as the first stop in my itinerary this time. However, luck was not on my side as it was raining slightly on my arrival early in the morning. Nonetheless, the rain was not as bad until I had to look for an umbrella.
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The unique main entrance of Shibuya Harajuku station.
I made a change on my plan, and went down to Shibuya first instead after finding that all the shops still remain closed. When I returned, it was still drizzling, but that didn't stop me to walk around Harajuku. Harajuku is widely known as the centre of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for grown-ups and some historic sights.
The focal point of Harajuku's teenage culture is Takeshita Doori and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.
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People with umbrellas overcrowding Takeshita Doori, ignoring the wet weather.
I was there on Monday, hence I missed out on watching young Japanese engage in cosplay (costume play), where they will dress up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk musician and many other characters as well. It is just like watching Japanese teenage culture at its most extreme.
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For those of you who loathe lala-ism, visiting Harajuku will spell a nightmare because there are lalas all over the place. Being someone who couldn't swallow looking at people dressing up like lalas, I understand that fact very well. Common sense would have told me to avoid Harajuku, but I still went ahead for a walk around the area. Fortunately enough, I didn't come across too many lalas. Otherwise, I would have collected those lalas and cook curry lala for my dinner that night instead.
Japanese lalas are not much different from what we can see back home. Hair dyed in weird colours like purple and green, wearing those kind clothes that look like they were pick up from the rubbish dump and long socks with striking colours. Perhaps I have been too harsh on my comments on this group of people, but I was just speaking out my mind. I didn't spend much time there, as I didn't want to make my eyes suffer from being over-exposed with the hazardous lala-ray.
Despite so, I still took one picture of lala for you to endure from Takeshita Doori - a girl holding posters promoting their stuffs at a junction.
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Lucky thing that it was only some moderate level of lala-ism.
Takeshita Dori is the symbol of Harajuku and birthplace of many of Japan's fashion trends. It is a narrow, roughly 400 meter long street lined by shops, boutiques, cafes and fast food outlets targeting Tokyo's teenagers. There was a shop along this street in which I thought it was a shop operated by a Malaysian when I notice its catchy signboard.
"ANAP MIMPI", or did they mean "RANAP MIMPI"?
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Add an R in front and you will have wrecked dreams.

However, Harajuku is not only about teenage culture and shopping. Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo's major shrines, is located just west of the railway tracks in a large green oasis. It was an accidental discovery for me to actually come across this shrine while I was walking around the area. I never knew it was a shrine until I read the signboard in front of the entrance.
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Torii (entrance gate)
of Meiji Shrine.
The shrine is located in the middle of a wooded park area. It is an uncommon thing to see an area surrounded by so many trees when you are in metropolitan like Tokyo bacause you would have expected yourself to see high-rise skycrapers in the middle of the city.
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Walking along the trails towards the shrine, while breathing the fresh air just took away my tiredness from my journey I endured for the past several hours in the train. It offered some refreshing atmosphere and I felt rejuvenated again.
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At some point when I was walking towards the main shrine located in the middle of the park, there were rows of Japanese sake and imported French wines, at both sides of the pathway. The Japanese sake were placed on the right side;
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While on the left, there were several barrels of wines to be consecrated at the shrine, offered by the celebrated wineries of Bourgogne in France.
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This explaination signboard placed just next to those barrels of wines should provide full details on the sake and wine there, which I don't think anyone will be reading it though. I didn't bother to read it too, to be honest.
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Anyway, here is a closer look at one of the French barrels of wine.
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Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. In Shinto, it is not uncommon to enshrine the deified spirits of important personalities.
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Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. He was born in 1852 and ascended to the throne in 1868 at the peak of the Meiji Restoration when the power was switched from the feudal Tokugawa government to the emperor. During the Meiji Period, Japan modernized and westernized herself to join the world's major powers by the time Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912.
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Main building (outer shrine)
The Meiji Shrine was completed in 1920, and rebuilt after being destroyed in World War Two. It is located in a wooded park area next to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Various events and festivals are celebrated at the shrine throughout the year.
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Just like any other shrine in Japan, there will be a place where people are able to write down their wish on a small wooden board and hang it up in a specific spot. As for this shrine, there is a tree and people will be hanging their boards under this tree. The boards could be purchased from one of the corner of the shrine at 500yen (RM16) each piece.
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While browsing through those wooden boards. I noticed that most wishes centred on well-wishes for their families and friends and also hoping for world peace; written in various foreign language, not only in Japanese. Among others were English, Spanish, Italian, Thai, Russian and Chinese.
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But one message caught my attention and it has nothing related to good luck wishes or praying for peace whatsoever.

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An expensive wish indeed.
It was during that time that I was greeted by a foreigner who asked me to have his picture taken at the shrine. He seemed to be a friendly guy and the two of us had a short chat together. Judging from his English, I knew straight away that he is a Thai. Apparently, he was on a transit flight on his way back to Bangkok and he decided to spend a good couple of days in Tokyo. When I returned him his DLSR, I got a nice gesture of appreciation from this guy.
"Terima kaseh"

In return for the favour I did for him, he took a picture for me too.
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Just one of the very few pictures of myself you would see in my travelogue this time.
One another side of the shrine is the corner where lucky charms and such are on sale.
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Next to the main shrine, there is a hall which is used for important ceremonies like wedding.

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The interior of the hall looked luxurious to hold such events but at the same time, I reckon renting the place for a day won't come any cheap either.
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The hightlight of my visit to the shrine was of course getting to witness a wedding ceremony that day.
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Well, it was not an actual ceremony because I took it from a poster.


mg said...

first to comment! hehe.. so funny lala-ray... so did u buy any of the wooden boards or lucky charm? =P

syaza said...

u prasan x kat bumbung yg d kayu part tu ada heart shape? sejarahnye, d heart shape tu dtg from gabungan mata inoshishi (boar)..
plus, this jinja nye tuhan pun inoshishi gak, kalo x silap

Anonymous said...

ur first picture should be harajuku not shibuya
i remember the entrance very well

Kevin Tan said...

tat lala-ism is not moderate at all

pinksterz said...

i adore harajuku style. hmph.

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
told you that you will get your chance to be first here =)
i reckon lala-ray is more dangerous than ultraviolet-ray.
but no, i didn't get any of those wooden boards nor lucky charms. they don't come cheap >.<

calvin said...

@ syaza:
no, i was looking at all the pictures in the entry but i didn't find any rooftop which resembles a heart shape. mind if you point out which picture is it?

but it looks like you have a great knowledge on this shrine :)

calvin said...

@ ns29:
yes, it has been edited.
i guess i had mixed up everything between shibuya and harajuku. their station is after all, just next to each other.

calvin said...

@ kevin tan:
i didn't post up a worse picture of lala-ism or it would only spell disaster for everybody here.

calvin said...

@ pinksterz:
that is confusing.
you adore their style, yet you are not showing any signs of approval o.O

pinksterz said...

if you are referring to the 'hmph' it was because you said harajuku = lalas. and i like harajuku style. means i am a lala in the context of your post.


calvin said...

@ pinksterz:
in conclusion, you are indeed a lala, no? ^^

pinksterz said...

i knew you are going to say that

calvin said...

@ pinksterz:
and i knew you will agree with my statement =)

pinksterz said...

nah, you thought i am going to agree.

because i didn't and i dont'.

calvin said...

@ pinksterz:
never mind.
a lala will never admit herself as a lala.
just like how a crazy person will always deny his crazyness.

février said...

LOL last pic cheat !

i wanna go !!! yerr. boulevard so nice. wanna go. xD expensive wish. ARGH I WANNA WRITE THE NOTES THING TOO T_T and harajuku station summore T_T like something out of disney movie -.-

pinksterz said...

whatever. i have more important things to do rather than hanging around here. T^T

calvin said...

@ beve:
sometimes, these kind of cheatings are not against the law xD

you can plan to visit japan one day.
i'm sure you will enjoy the trip as much as i do =)

i wonder what would you write on the wooden board ^^

actually, there is a shop selling everything that is related to snoppy just at the opposite of the harajuku station. but unfortunately, it was closed down already.

calvin said...

@ pinksterz:
you are saying that when you know that your exams are just a month away =.=

Endoru said...

Andrew Soh here.
Strolled by from Ben's page.
Dropping a hi message.
Great high quality photos,
definitely enjoyed them

calvin said...

@ endoru:
thanks for dropping by and i suppose you are one of the super super senpai from ppktj. i hope i will get to see you early next month in the golden week gathering =D

Endoru said...

Yes, I'm very much so one already.
Can't believe that this time would come.
Yeah, will be going and see you then.

calvin said...

@ endoru:
i just have the feeling that the gathering this year will be a succesful and one of the best ever organised. hoping that everything will go fine and see you next month :)