My main plan today was to go to Harajuku to see some cool outfits, go to Ginza to see the pedestrian mall and maybe shop a little, and do other stuff as it came up. I also needed to go to Ikebukuro to get some presents at the traditional arts center there.
A shot outside of JR Shinjuku– another beautiful day! (Nothing to do about the pole, though.)
I started off in Harajuku. I headed down the main street, turned right, and headed to Kiddy Land, which had great souvenirs/toys last time.
This time, it wasn’t as exciting. For starters, they moved the store to a new location with less room in it, and a lot of the funkier stuff has been replaced by theme goods, like Hello Kitty, Peanuts, etc. That’s all stuff I can get in the US for my nephew and my godkids.
I liked the old store better. It had more “funky” stuff and a cooler vibe.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Then I headed towards Meiji Jingu shrine, and took some photos on the way.
The MoMA (NY) Design Store in Harajuku?
Looking back at the main street of Harajuku as I head towards the station and the shrine/park:
I only saw one bunch of people really dressed up, and they were on their way out. Too slow to get a photo.
I guess I missed it? I dunno.
I got to the shrine, and walked and walked and walked. It was difficult to take good pictures, because the lighting was bad.
Here’s the entry with the IXY, which really struggled with the conditions:
My giant 60D did a little better, but not much, to be honest:
The shrine grounds are really pretty, but lots of shade means it’s hard on photographers:
I thought this sign was interesting. The English takeaway? No smoking. But in Japanese, it also says no eating and drinking while walking:
This area was a collection of donated Japanese and French wines to dedicate the shrine with:
Moving on to the inner garden grounds:
See the red umbrella? That’s a wedding party:
I saw a couple of Americans in Santa suits. WHYYYY? Of course they kept getting in the way of my photos. No, I’m not showing them. They weren’t that good, anyway.
While I was snapping away, a wedding procession came through, then came back. That was pretty cool. I tried to take a video of it with my 60D, but it kept not wanting to shoot video. It was very grumpy about the whole thing. I was probably pressing the wrong button or something.
A few shots of the inner garden and the honden:
After that, a group of girls and a group of guys asked me to take their pictures. I guess they figured that I knew what I was doing.
Then I headed out.
One last shot of Harajuku, near JR Harajuku:
I went back to the room to recharge for a bit and have lunch.
Refreshed, I went to Ginza. Since it was Sunday, the main road was closed to traffic, and the main street turned a giant pedestrian plaza. It was like a giant outdoor shopping mall.
The buildings looked great as sun was setting.
I headed to Itoya, one of my favorite stores on the planet.
People were jammed in tight there. I shopped a bit, and as I was heading out, I stopped by the pens. I found a beauty. Pilot made a special edition pen for earthquake relief for Tohoku. There was one red one left, and I bought it. It’s a gorgeous pen, and hopefully someone will benefit from my impulse buy.
I also bought some decorative paper for my sister, who loves the stuff.
Then I headed back out, and took a few photos.
At 5 there was an announcement, “We’re going to open the road to traffic now. Move it.”
Pedestrian heaven quickly became pedestrian hell, as everyone jammed back on to the sidewalks.
One last shot of a random Ginza Christmas tree:
I made my way to the subway, then headed to the hotel to drop off my Itoya purchases, and then turned around and went to Ikebukuro.
The Best of Japan in One Place
The reason for my trip to Ikebukuro was to pick up some souvenirs at the Japan Traditional Crafts Center. Some of the best craft work in Japan is for sale there, all in one store in Ikebukuro.
Finding it was slightly tricky, but I found it. They had a really good selection. If, like me, you want to buy a good handmade calligraphy brush, they have them from all over Japan.
The downside is that you won’t forge a relationship with the people who made it, like I did in Anjo and in Toyohashi. You also won’t get a discount for being nice and speaking Japanese. This is Tokyo, not Aichi Prefecture.
But you can find all kinds of stuff here. I found some nice brushes, one for my calligraphy teacher back home, one for a classmate of mine, one for me, and a nice print for my girlfriend back home.
On the way to the station, I found another Krispy Kreme.
Of course I bought a few doughnuts! I need the carbs… for energy! I still have way too many Krispy Kreme coupons. Every time I use one, they give me two back. I will never be able to get rid of them, and have fallen squarely into their trap!
I headed back to the hotel again to drop off my souvenirs, and decided to go to Roppongi for dinner.
Christmas in Roppongi
I went to Roppongi Hills, because the food there is good. There was also a Christmas tree-like decoration in front:
I found a good sounding teppanyaki place, until I checked their menu. The prices were way too high for my budget.
So I went to the noodle shop across the hall, called Masudaya, and got great chicken soba for a third of the price.
I still kind of suck at slurping my noodles like a local, but who cares? It’s delicious!
I wanted to go to Cold Stone, because I was craving something cold and sweet after all those hot noodles, but it was closed by 9. Boo.
On the way back to the station, I stopped by Aoyama Book Center for a book for my brother in law. I may have found something there, but I’ll have to double-check with my sis to make sure it’s in his strike zone.
I saw this neat Roppongi sign made out of lights. Kind of looks like the signs on Bourbon Street in New Orleans:
One last gratuitous photo of a subway poster while waiting for a train, full of things you shouldn’t do on the platform:
After all of that, I headed back to Shinjuku and passed out.