5 May 2017
I woke up in the late morning of my last day in Tokyo in a bleary, sleep-deprived haze and quickly showered and packed. Thankfully, I wasn’t hungover, just weary – I had danced away all drops of alcohol in my system during my all-nighter in the depths of a Tokyo nightclub the night before. I checked out and bid a fond farewell to my new friends, the awesome trio that run Hostel bedgasm, with promises to visit again. I didn’t need to be back in Kanazawa until the evening, and with the endless amounts of neighborhoods to explore in Tokyo I was sure I could entertain myself for the day. I stored my stuff in a coin locker at the train station (¥400 for the day, not too bad) and got on a local train for Shimokitazawa.
Shimokitazawa is n up-and-coming neighborhood of Tokyo. A student and artist haunt, it is packed with vintage and second-hand shops, cute cafes, and funky pubs. I was there on the Friday morning of a holiday period, and the streets were filled with Japanese hipsters out for a coffee and shopping. While this area is certainly popular, it felt pretty new on the tourist scene: it was the one area of Tokyo that I visited that had few tourists and large quantities of local folks. Vintage and thrifted clothing has long been a passion of mine, and some of the best stores I’ve found have been in Japan. The prices haven’t always been the cheapest, but the stores have always been excellently curated with good quality pieces. Poking around Shimokitazawa was vintage heaven! I was very good and only walked away with a pair of earrings from a booth showcasing local handmade jewelry, but my eyes and hands certainly wanted more. After a good, long wander, I was in desperate need of a pick-me-up, and treated myself to a chocolate and banana waffle and ice coffee at Orange, a hip waffle cafe. I don’t really know why, but waffles are really popular in Japan! This was my first Japanese waffle experience and I must say, it was lovely, and not overly sweet.
Next I headed to Harajuku, the famous shopping mecca for Japanese teeny-boppers. It seemed like everyone in Tokyo had the same idea. Getting off the subway I found myself in shoulder-to-shoulder foot traffic which continued as I made my way down Takeshita street, the famous (and narrow!) main drag in Harajuku. I didn’t stay long, and only dashed into a few funky shops selling Lolita-style costumes, but it was fun to be in the midst of the craziness! There is a lot to look at on Takeshita street, and I’d like to go back in the future for a closer inspection.
After Harajuku, I strolled along glamorous Omotesandō, a retail area that specilizes in designer, high-end shops. But I wasn’t there to check out expensive designer labels that you can see virtually in every big city: I was there for the architecture. Omotesandō is home to many different flagship stores with some of the most unique modern architecture. A stroll along this boulevard highlights not only big fashion but big names among contemporary modern architects. It was also the perfect opportunity to take some architectural photographs. During my time in Japan, I have been rediscovering my passion for film photography, and all of the following photos were taken on film on my beloved Nikon F-3.
All too soon, it was time for me to take the Shinkansen back to Kanazawa. I purchased a bento box from the train station for my journey. One of my favorite aspects of taking the bullet trains are the specialty bento boxes you can find at the stations. They change seasonally and highlight different regional specialties throughout Japan, so the bento boxes you find in Tokyo are different from the ones in Kyoto or Osaka! It wasn’t difficult for the movement of the train to lull me to sleep. I had had 3 very full days in Tokyo and still there was so much that I didn’t see. Until next time. . .