A couple weekends ago, I visited Harrison Salton in the great bustling city of Tokyo. We had loads of fun, hopping from Harajuku, to the famous crosswalk in Shibuya, to the Golden Gai bar district in Shinjuku. I even got a chance to stroll through the gorgeous grounds of the Meiji Shrine, a stone’s throw from Harajuku.
Sundays in Harajuku are renowned for hoardes of cosplayers dressing it up to their best, but sadly I didn’t know “where the party at” so I leapt on this opportunity to get my throat cut by this marvellous lady.
We apply make up and costume in preparation for our fancy photo opportunity in Japanese purikura photo booths. It costs about $4-$6 to receive a set of photographs. You can decorate the photographs with digital stickers, expand your pupil size to be more kawaii, and select a whole range of poses. It is a really fun process, provided you have jolly company. Harrison and I had great fun!
Accessories galore! In the back the crouching fellow in the blue outfit is repairing a handful of metal and cloth flowers. Some purikura photo booths offer a range of headgear and cheap costumery to accentuate the photographs.
The result of our beautification.
Couldn’t resist a selfie.
A man peddling second hand kimonos on the street, near Shibuya. He sold men’s kimono-style coats for as little as $10. A very fancily dressed Italian lady toting her long haired hippy boys purchased a gorgeous kimono while I was perusing the silken pants. I was pretty proud I could understand her Italian.
Welcome to the austere Meiji Shrine. This is only one of the auxiliary buildings. Sacred rope wraps around massive trees directly in front of the main enclosure. It is expected that Shinto shrine goers properly wash their hands to purify themselves, and to make a small monetary offering before prayer. Prayer must also be carried out in a specific way: take off your hat, throw in a coin, ring the bell, make two deep bows, make your heartfelt wish, clap twice, and clap once more whilst deeply bowing. Your head should be humbly bowed the entire time.
Barrels of alcohol dedicated to the shrine’s international sponsors.
Wishes made by visitors from all over the world. The common wish seemed to center around love, fortune, and family.
Tokyo at night. I highly recommend you visit the Golden Gai in Shinjuku. It’s a maze of tiny one room bars, with room to seat 5 or 6 customers. There is usually an entrance fee of about 800 yen, and the alcohol generally has a weak alcoholic content, so beware of the amount of money you spend- it can easily exceed $50 if you are looking for more than a pleasant buzz. Japanese are infamous drinkers, for their appetite is said to exceed that of Bulgarians, Russians, and the Swiss. It is common for work colleagues to grab drinks after work, never mind tension at work. Actually, it is a social expectation for workers to drink together, usually to excess. You know the saying “What happens in Vegas stay in Vegas”? Well, in Japan, alcohol loosens business people uptightness and can make mouths flap- complaints about overbearing bosses, petty drama, and family problems easily emerge, only to be politely forgotten the next day at work. However, for foreigners, it is a great chance to be in close quarters with people visiting Tokyo from all over the world, or to practice your language ability with Tokyoites interested in gaijin (foreigners).