Saturday, April 12, 2014

Harajuku Girl

As I've mentioned time and time again, I am NOT a fashionista.  I just want to put that out there so you don't get the wrong idea about me being in Harajuku.  I love the song by Gwen Stefani, and I might even have had it stuck in my head most of the day, but the actual reason I was in Harajuku was the fact that it's where the Ota Museum is, and they have one of the best collections of ukiyo-e prints in the world.  It's a small collection which constantly rotates to protect the prints, and photos aren't allowed because most people are idiots and don't realize you shouldn't use your flash in an art museum.  And it was one of my must-sees for Tokyo.
It just happened to be nestled between Omote-Sando and Harajuku, so I decided to make a day of it.  Omote-Sando is a neighborhood with a lot of cool architecture, so I decided to get off the subway one stop early and check out some of the buildings.  I don't talk about my feet a lot, but they've been in rough shape for - eesh - four years now, and pretty much every day I was in Tokyo I abused them, but what are you going to do?  At any rate, the buildings were cool, and it was a nice spring morning.
After the Ota Museum I decided to go ahead and prowl the streets of Harajuku - when in Rome, you know?  I pretty much saw exactly what I was expecting to see...
Although this little bit of sticker art caught me by surprise.  I didn't see a lot of street art in Tokyo, but finding stickered poles like this was fairly common.  It's probably easier to put a sticker on something without getting caught than it is to spray paint it.

A few years back, my friends Meen and Kate went to Tokyo from Shanghai.  They talked about how polite the Japanese were (for example, how they would wait for people to get OFF the train before getting on), and during my time there I noticed this as well (I don't think I even heard one person hawk a loogie!)  They also talked about how good looking the men were, and I can't argue with that one, either.  I am not the kind of person who notices men on the street, but hoo boy I did in Tokyo!  I've been in Asia a long time, and I've nursed a crush or two on Korean men, in spite of the fact that they're a little on the effeminate side.  I can appreciate Mongolian men, because they're tall and typically pretty well built, although they tend to be a little burly for my tastes.  I think Japanese men fit pretty well between these two categories - they're definitely pretty, but leave no doubting the fact that they are men.  I could get used to that kind of eye candy.  And just so you know, I did use this picture because it had a guy in it, but I took the picture because it had the subway sign in the background.  He isn't really typical of the kind of masculine beauty to which I am referring here, but I didn't go around taking photos of hot Japanese men because it makes me feel like a weirdo stalker.
Before leaving the area and giving my poor feet a break, I had one last place to hit - the Meiji Shrine.  This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken.  Apparently this year is the 100th year of her "demise," and so there were lots of signs up telling about how wonderful she was, and how much she did for the Japanese people.  It was interesting to read about how they helped guide Japan into a more modernized mindset, and the shrine is in a beautiful park.
But the shrine itself didn't really leave much of an impression on me.  Maybe I wasn't looking at it the right way, but I just didn't think there was a lot to it.  I've been to some magical places - Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, in Kyoto, is my all-time favorite - and this just didn't hit that note with me.  Maybe it was the light, or the weather.  Or maybe it was the fact that I got told off for sitting on the ground, because the bench I was sitting on was so low that it really didn't rest my feet much, and they felt better stretched out in front of me.  Whatever the case, Meiji Jingu really didn't do it for me - I can take a walk in the woods any day I like.

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