The proprietor of this store, Mr. Freak, invites you to come and look at his freaky shit, such as:
Goose-Down jackets. Fucking freaky. Or worse yet:
knick-knacky shit on a table.
I didn’t actually go into the Freak’s store, but I love what he’s done with the place. No really, just another obsession with Japanese weirdness. This store was close to an area called Harajuku. Harajuku may be known to Americans nowadays because of the Gwen Stefani song “Harajuku Girls.” Harajuku is known for a trend called “Cosplay”: where teenagers to adults dress up in, basically, Halloween costumes and walk around near Yoyogi Park and on the strip called Takeshita Dori. Here’s a picture of the “entrance” to Takeshita Dori:
And here it is with the people (I was told this was a slow day):
Most people have heard of Harajuku, where you can find teenagers dressed up like undead brides or giant onigiri. It’s kind of the district where you can let loose, probably because of the rigidity of normal Japanese life. There seems to be so much tradition and ritual and obligation, all based on old hierarchical standards, that there needs to be an outlet for society. There needs to be ways to be expressive and creative or to just not give a fuck. From what i’ve been told, salarymen let loose by getting absolutely shitfaced drunk by, like, six or seven o clock in the evening. I did witness this a few times. Actually, last night there was a group of salarymen who were holding up their buddy because he could hardly walk straight.
I’ve also been told that quite a few of them also regularly visit gay clubs and are totally on the down-low. Wives, children and everything. Not that different than America, say. So, not especially surprising.
I guess the other type are the people who feel like outcasts, maybe. This is, of course, just what I’ve been told. That this is a place where people who feel like freaks can actually get together and look like freaks and parade around the streets and try to woo tourists to take pictures of them. Is that how you spell “woo”?
I did not see but maybe one or two girls dressed up today. I met up today with Bee’s friend, Expatty, whose been a Tokyoite for the last ten or so years, and she showed me around town a bit. We started around the entrance shown above, going into a few stores, like the sock store: a store that had just about every variation on a sock you could think of. There were socks just for your toes, meaning they were a quarter of the size of an entire sock. There were socks just to keep your ankles warm. Or there were socks that looked like thongs: like butt floss that wedged in between your big toe and the “this little piggy stayed home” toe.
We had plans to go to Yoyogi Park, which is a giant park near Harajuku, and where the Cosplay types are rumoured to hang out in. However, we ended up going a different route which bypassed the park and took us over to a main drag called Omote Sando. Omote Sando is, I guess, the rich area near Harajuku; a fashionable place, but not for Cosplay, more for salons and expensive cafes. Expatty claimed that Omote Sando was a place where bored, wealthy housewives came to eat expensive-ass lunches. The United Nations University is on Omote Sando:
Close by the UN University was a art piece by a well-known architect. This is what Expatty mentioned; that this particular designer’s pieces are not just in Tokyo, but Osaka and, maybe, Hiroshima. Here it is:
Here’s another picture of it:
I couldn’t tell you what it is or what it means or why he was contracted to build this piece, but it is kinda cool.
We walked around, ending up in Shibuya, going to some small upstairs restaurant that had an amazing lunch set. Crab-flavored Miso soup, pickled vegetables, a bowl of rice, and various sashimi. This was my meal. Sashimi in Japan is never frozen and is served at room temperature and is just fresh-as-fuck. So delicious. Maybe thirteen or fourteen dollars for the lunch, but well worth it. I say that but, you know, Expatty treated. So yeah, of course it was well worth it. But seriously folks…
Expatty; my treat next time.
Expatty showed me a do-it-yourself store, which sort of means Japanese hardware store, but really is like a bizarre mini mall that has seven levels with three areas per level: Travel and Season Select; Personal Style; and Stationery is one level. Another is Game, Party and Variety; Knitting and Sewing; and Accessory and Pet. The place is called Tokyu Hands, and is one of the coolest stores I’ve ever seen. There really is a “chances are they have it,” thing going on there. If you want a do-it-yourself cut-out set that creates a miniature scene of a full orchestra playing in a park, complete with conductor, musicians, instruments, park bench, and tree — they have it. If you want an ultra-modern toilet bowl brush, they have it. Want milk-candy flavored chap-stick? no problem. Want slippers that clean the floor as you walk? Want Harry Potter chopsticks? How about Star-Wars chopsticks, or bullet-train chopsticks? How about talking toys that let you know that the refrigerator door has been open too long (they’re polar bears, and it has a global-warming theme).Want excercise gear, weight gain protein powders, gift cards, beds and mattresses, light bulbs, lanterns, or outfits for your pets? Shit, they have it.
Afterwards, coffee and large ice cream sundaes in an upstairs cafe that was close to the infamous Shibuya crossing. Very good, very expensive. Maybe a fifteen dollar ice cream sundae. Thanks again, Expatty. I ate like a king today.
Damn, Tokyo really has a lot to see.
Sorry, no pictures of Harajuku Cosplay girls. Didn’t find them. Maybe next time.