January 29, 2014

A Sunday afternoon in crazy Harajuku

Last Sunday I headed to Harajuku with Merri, my partner in crime. Harajuku is a hip, trendy and fashionable neighborhood in Tokyo. There are all kinds of interesting fashion choices on display here. This is an example of Tokyo "kawaii" culture, meaning, over the top cute and/or adorable.

Yes, that is in fact, an octopus hat!

Even cute from the back!

This man had a puppet to match!

There was a whole group of people dressed up and they kind of paraded in a group together. (Maybe I have discovered a new use for Ella and Eva's hairclips!)

This would probably be an example of cosplay, or "costume play", where you dress in a certain theme or as a character.

We had a great time watching this procession. And you thought band aid's were only for boo-boo's!

We then wandered over to Yoyogi Park and came across this group of guys dancing up a storm. I called them the Japanese Elvis'. They all had pompadours, leather, and blasted rockabilly music. They were awesome! It is my dream to dance with them someday!

They really got into it!

These were not young guys either, mind you. There were a few that looked to be well into their 50's!

This guy was my personal favorite, and seemed to be the ring leader.

Lots of pet fashions were also on display. This little dog had jeans AND a hat!

This one had a Mickey Mouse outfit, complete with a hood with attached mouse ears.

This cat was in on the action, as well.

Not sure what to make of this one. His panda bear companion had just taken a potty break.

Next stop, the Omotesando. This is a large tree lined shopping district with every high end store you can imagine. It was designed after the Champs Elysees in Paris and is every bit as exclusive! (With a few non-exclusive stores thrown in, like this one, haha!)

There are ALWAYS characters.

I loved these beautiful tulips.

This was a line for popcorn, yes, popcorn. It was at least 30 people long. Must be good popcorn!

Here is said popcorn store.

One street off of the Omotesando, was Takeshita Street. This was the lower class, (and more fun), street to browse. This was a particularly interesting costume shop.

Just out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a tutu skirt in the McDonald's, and we just HAD to get a better look. These guys were more than happy to pose for a photo, but when I said "kawaii", which is usually taken as a great compliment, this guy said "No. No kawaii." I thought to myself, "you are wearing bunny ears, somehow the word "handsome" didn't come to mind!" LOL!

This is Takeshita Street, it was PACKED, and so much fun!

January 27, 2014

Another great park

We decided to stay closer to home today and check out, what we call, the "obstacle course park", and also a shrine that we had passed a few times. The shrine and tori gates are the most beautiful, vibrant red. I really enjoy the use of red in Asian architecture!

We initially thought that the pagoda was all there was to see at this shrine, but we were pleasantly surprised to find so much more exploring could be done! There was a long staircase with a dragon running along the top. 

There were lots of different statues to look at. 

Also, beautiful buildings. I am not sure the purpose for all of these. 

The kids never pass up a photo op! 

This area had hundreds of little idols(?) with gifts and flowers laid amongst them.

The intricate woodwork of the buildings cannot be fully captured by a camera! 

This was a staircase leading to the cemetery.

Another view of the pagoda.

This is the very large tori gate at the entrance. 


Our next stop was the obstacle course park. Japan has the most amazing parks! They are innovative and unique. Why do we try to wrap every child in a protective safety bubble in the US? (Probably because we have become a culture of petty lawsuits....but that is another story!) This park was so fun, there were at least 20 different obstacles to get through, before the end. Here are the kids balancing on the see-saws.

There were swinging logs to cross. 

A moving log staircase. 

And a zip line, just to name a few. I didn't get pics of everything, the kids were moving too quickly! 

The obstacle course culminates at a giant (and very fast) slide. This was a huge favorite! I can't even count how many times the kids climbed these steep stairs.

We will be back! 

On the way back to the car we passed a group of Japanese school students. They always get very excited seeing the American kids and wave and say "hall-o" (hello). The Japanese kids giggle and get very happy when our kids answer back. I kept hearing one kid say "see-ya" over and over again. Funny!