Harajuku and the Toy Store

After visiting the Clannad park at Hakonegasaki, I took a different series of trains to a different destination. I read that Harajuku was a great place to see people wearing strange outfits and even cosplaying on Sunday, so I decided to stop by there. What I got was mostly disappointing.

This vending machine had a touch screen.
A large container filled with sawdust was tied to
this pole, perhaps to prevent slipping on snowy days?
My face says it all.
Harajuku was packed. It is a tourist attraction, and an even bigger one than I thought. It was certainly colorful, and all kinds of crazy, but it wasn't the kind of crazy I was looking for I guess, because I didn't enjoy myself much.

Takeshita Street is the main attraction in Harajuku, and that's where I stopped first. It is essentially a huge mall, with lots of shops filled with eccentric clothing and normal clothing. I couldn't help but compare it to Akihabara. Where Akihabara had something interesting waiting inside every single shop around every single corner, Takeshita Street was just a really packed, mildly Japanese version of an American mall, with practically nothing but clothing on sale.

While I was taking a picture of one of the shops, an employee came out with her arms crossed above her head. I guess that meant she didn't want pictures taken, so I omitted that one. Her loss. My blog is Totally Awesome!

As you can see in these pictures, there is a lot of diversity. I never went anywhere in Japan that had so many gaijin. I kind of liked standing out from the crowd, and I didn't like hearing languages other than Japanese, so I guess that also contributed to my aversion to the place.

Apparently the crepes in Harajuku are renowned, but I didn't know this while I was there. Even if I had known, I probably would have just passed. I had better things to do than wait 20 minutes for a crepe.

I seemed to be at the end of the street, but I wasn't really upset. There were a couple other places in Harajuku I wanted to see before I left.

I guess this is the Nico Nico (Japan's YouTube) headquarters.

There were some interesting shops on this street. I wasn't personally interested in most of them, since they appeared to be clothing stores, but the buildings were cool-looking.

I stopped in a convenience store and got myself a watermelon popsicle. It had little chocolate chips as the "seeds." I was starting to think this would be the best part of the trip. But I hadn't seen Kiddy Land yet.

I crossed the street via a bridge covered in graffiti. The street was pretty wide, but most of the traffic was pedestrians, not cars.

Next to a Shakey's Pizza, there was Kiddy Land, a gigantic toy store.

True to its name, I felt the kid in me getting wildly excited as I toured the 4 or 5 floors of the building. All kinds of toys, western and eastern, were on display.

There was a pretty big section devoted just to Studio Ghibli merchandise.

I saw all manner of both toys I had seen and toys I had never seen before.

An entire floor was dedicated to Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma, a newer. similar fad that is now really popular in Japan. I wasn't horribly interested, but it was mind-blowing to see such a quantity of Hello Kitty merchandise.

The bottom floor was wall-to-wall Peanuts and Snoopy merchandise. I'm not sure if that was just the special product at the time or if it just so happens to be really popular in Japan. Either way, wow.

The biggest snoopy plush was probably 5 foot tall and costed over three hundred dollars.

After spending a bit of time and buying a couple things, I left Kiddy Land, and headed back to the station.

I thought this store was just unfortunately named, like Hard-Off, but it's... well, exactly what it sounds like. If I would have known it was something so funny, I probably would have stopped in. I don't know if it's worth going back to Harajuku for, though.

I stopped by a restaurant. I would tell you what it was called, but I completely forgot, and somehow managed to take no pictures. Oops. They had a great shrimp burger though. I sure miss shrimp burgers.

On my way back up the hill to the train station, I was stopped by a couple of missionaries. I couldn't quite tell what religion/philosophy/cult they were trying to sell me on, but it was really hard to shake them without being rude. I was talking with them for probably half an hour, and they told me where I could come for a meeting the next day. Like that was going to happen.

My final destination for the day was Akihabara, of course. On Sundays, the street is closed off so that shoppers can walk freely between the buildings.

The street being closed off made for some great photo opportunities, but it was surprisingly unexciting. I think Harajuku had put me in a bad mood.

Eventually I wandered into a shop that was selling mostly figures. There were a couple of specific things I was looking for to take back as gifts, and it seemed like it would be a good place to find them.

The top floor was the best. It wasn't the only place I had seen of its kind, but it probably had the largest collection of small figures, all hanging in little bags.

After I was finished in the figure store, I walked outside to see that it was raining, and the street had been opened back up to traffic. I stopped inside a Lawson to see if the rain would stop after a few minutes, and thought about buying a new umbrella, since I had left my trusty black one back in Habikino. The umbrellas were only 5 bucks, but I didn't want to waste even small change on something that I would only use once and couldn't take home with me. In the end, I just bought something to drink and hustled back to the station.

When I made it back to the hostel, I changed my clothes, grabbed a loaner umbrella, bought a sandwich and some nigiri at the 7-Eleven down the street, then spent the rest of my night in the communal living room in the basement on my laptop, planning out the next days' trips.

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