Posted by: seasonaire | January 17, 2013

Japan Part 3: Tokyo

Having spent a week in the glorious powder fields of Niseko, it was time to come back down to Earth (if Japan really can be counted as Earth) and go on tour. Armed with a JR Rail Pass and a constant supply of beer, we began our journey back from the frozen north, towards a not much warmer Tokyo. Given that our flight was fairly late, we spent the New Year emerging from a tube station with enormous luggage and then trying to haul it up a never ending staircase, less than amusing. Upon reaching the hotel, it was clear that we were in for a treat; hundreds of American tourists were all sat in the lobby on iPads and laptops, clearly oblivious to the date or time. So rather than a crazy New Year’s Eve in a Tokyo nightclub, it was largely spent asleep, recovering from snow-induced overexertion.

New Year’s Day in Tokyo turned out to be far better than expected, given the Japanese traditions of going home to spend time with family and visiting the local shrine, I thought that everything would be closed. Reliably though, the convenience stores remained open, and there is at least one 24 hour convenience store on every block. Rumour has it that they don’t even install locks on the entrance doors, because they are never required. This was around the time we discovered Strong Zero, which is an 8% alcopop sold extremely cheaply in cans that look much like lemonade; quite the lethal combination.

Holy Fuck

8% alcohol, low sugar, stupidly cheap Japanese alcopop.

Wandering around sipping thinly disguised alcopop, we finally found some life in the form of a display of mochi making outside a furniture shop. There appeared to be little else happening, and there was quite a crowd gathering, most of whom thought it would be hilarious to get the foreigners involved. This time though, I used my Japanese skills to deflect the attention from me, and offered up my sacrificial lamb to impress the locals with her mad skills. Having suitably impressed, we wandered on to the home of all Japanese crazy, Harajuku. Being New Year’s Day, not everything was open, but there was still plenty yo amuse and excite a couple of increasingly tipsy fans of all things bizarre. This is not a place you can come without spending a small fortune on tat, there are so many shops, all selling things you had no idea you couldn’t live without.

Thermal pants featuring a cat's face, how could you not?

Thermal pants featuring a cat’s face, how could you not?

Awesome Sweater

So much hipster

Being super spiritual and all, immediately prior to the discovery of cat pants and knitted Bart Simpson sweater, we visited Meiji Jingu to welcome in the New Year Japanese style, by waiting about an hour to throw some small change over a fence. Yes it took forever, but was worth it to be part of the crowd and see Japanese style crowd control in action. This mainly involves police standing on top of their cars with a megaphone, and a giant screen advertising canned coffee and life insurance etc., to keep the crowd placated. After this spiritual journey, it was time to get back on the Strong Zero and find some more awesome in Harajuku.

Dogs wearing sunnies, dog owners dressed as the cat in the hat, gothic French maids, octopus balls etc., the list goes on endlessly. It has to be seen to be believed, and comes highly recommended if you have ever wondered what it might be like to take acid during the day then wander around a city, or even if you haven’t. Go to Harajuku, just do it, it will blow your mind, and if it doesn’t, there is something wrong with you.

More photos to follow…

 

 

 

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