After an early morning visit to the Tsukiji market, we ventured into the train system for the first time.
I checked with the front desk on how to get to the Harajuku station, and they told me how how to get from the Conrad to the Shimbashi station. With some trial and error, we made it. The next step was to figure out how to buy a ticket. I found a kiosk, switched it to English. Then I puzzled over it for a few minutes before realizing I was at a inter-city kiosk.
The GF and I headed over the to information desk and the friendly women tried to help us with the combination of their limited English and our non-existent Japanese. Eventually, they figured out what we were trying to ask and we figured out what they were trying to answer, and they pointed us in the right direction.
Thus began our next challenge. We found the kiosk and set it to English. The fare you pay depends on the station you are going to. The trick was that the fare map has the station names listed in Japanese. We puzzled over that for a few moments, trying to figure out which station was the Harajuku one. We gave off that universal confused tourist look, and a businessman asked if we needed help. He pointed out the right characters on the map for us and we were able to buy our 240 Yen (or so) tickets.
One of the great things about Tokyo is that even though we didn't speak the language, the people we dealt with were overwhlemingly friendly and helpful.
We took the train to the Harajuku area, known for the Meiji Shrine and shopping areas favored by Cos-Players.
The Tamagotchi store is across the street from the train stations. Remember the virtual pets on key-chains that were popular in the nineties? There's an entire store dedicated to them in Harajuku.
Just down the street is Takeshita-dori, known for it's focus on on unusual youth fashions, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
It's filled with both name brand shops and independents. In addition to the local crepe stands, McDonalds and Wolfgang Puck also have their outposts. And, like other restaurants in Japan, there is no avoiding the fake food displays in the windows.
Ometesando-dori is right near Takeshita-dori and is an extreme contrast in price. While Takeshite-dori is all about the inexpensive shops, Ometesando is more for those who have money to burn. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gaban, Marimeko, and other luxury brands crown the street and mall.
It's not exclusively shop like that, though. It's also home to Kiddy Land, a 7 floor toy store that dedicates and entire floor to Snoopy and the Peanuts crowd, but is now apparently closed for remodeling until 2012.
Just down the street from that is the Condom store.
Wrapped trucks advertising online services plied the streets.
Macherie.tv appears be a video chat chat service and 550909.com might be some sort of dating site.
For more pictures from this trip, click here.
For more posts about our Tokyo trip, click here.