Harajuku & The National Museum

After my post about the view yesterday, we went to Harajuku (pronounced hah-rah-jew-kew). Or we tried to…

First, we got slightly lost, ending up on a Subway going in a different direction, and almost getting on the wrong train again when we got back to the place where we had first taken the wrong train. This led to the hilarity of this particular ad on the train as we got back on track.

Where are you?

But we made it to Harajuku station, which is right next to Yoyogi park, a fascinating blend of old Japan and new Japan.

On the old side (in the North), you have the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji who helped open Japan up to the West following the Edo period from the late 1860’s. The shrine features very traditional Japanese activities along with Buddhist religious activities. During our visit, we saw a couple of weddings going on (one was in the photo stage, and the other seemed to be in the processional stage). The area was crowded with foreigners, and we were just as likely to hear English or Chinese as Japanese among our fellow pedestrians.

On the new side (in the South), you have Yoyogi park proper. This is an area where the young (and sometimes not so young) come to show off how rebellious/individualistic/badly-lacking-in-fashion-sense they are. You have the goth kids and the goth lolitas, then you have the random weirdness people and the Rockabillies (who I’m quite certain are probably normal business men during the week, as they looked to be a long way from their twenties).

You also have the street performers. We saw several artists, what looked to be a mime troupe (minus the make-up), a human statue, some actors, and numerous musicians. The musicians were the most interesting, as there was this one stretch where there was a different act every 20-30 feet, almost all using a portable amp and trying to gather crowds. Some were very successful, others seemed unable to gather more than casual glances. Some were quite good. Others, just weird. There was a different section where there were whole bands doing small sets (or full sets) with full musical accompaniment just at the edge of the sidewalks.

We watched a band called “Loovee,” who we enjoyed enough to buy their album (they played “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” (proper name ???)). Our first J-Pop. Yay!

Then there was the bazaar. Just a huge area where a whole bunch of young people seemed to be selling used clothes, records, or whatever. I bought a new hat from a man in yellow with dreads.

There was a small stage where bands could set up and play, so we watched “No Leaf Clover’s” four song set. They didn’t seem too bad, but we caught very few lyrics, so I cannot attest to their lyrical talents. Most of the audience was around for the full set, so that’s a good sign, right?

Otherwise, we were subtly perplexed by a street magician’s rope and rings tricks (I know there were tricks involved, I just don’t know how he did them. He spoke English well, so we chatted and laughed as he did his thing.

We gathered a few demo CDs, listened to some other bands, watched a girl do a very rapid painting, decided not to visit the NHK Studio Park, and ate some excellent yakiniku.

Then we headed back to the train station, where we encountered the kinds of crowds one pictures when one thinks of Japan. The whole area had been crowded, but this was crazy. So, we decided to walk to the next train station North instead of fighting our way on to the train at Harajuku. This led to some interesting backstreet wandering before we found our way to Yoyogi station and the train back home. It was fairly early, but we were both exhausted from the walking, the crowds, and the heat.

For the complete photo-history of the day, check out Amanda’s Photoblog and check out the Harajuku Album.

That was Sunday.

Today, Monday, we decided to go to Ueno (pronounced Ooh-aay-no) to check out Japan’s National Museum.

The place was huge. Five buildings huge. It had some very cool stuff. I went a little… snaphappy, as it were. We took slightly over one thousand pictures.

Or, more accurately, Amanda took 39 pictures. I took 960-ish.

Of those, only about 30 (all mine) were garbage, meaning I took roughly 930 usable-ish pictures.

In my defense, however, almost half of those are catalogue shots, meaning that I took pictures of the little “Blue Vase: 17th century, Edo Period, Japan” cards every time I took a picture of an exhibit. This will be convenient when we go through them and people ask us, “What’s that?”

And they will.

Still, I filled up one of our 1 Gb camera memory cards and used over a third of the other. This is the first time we’ve used that much memory without taking any video.

The museum was very interesting, initially, but there are only so many Buddhas that you can see before you start saying, “Hey, look. Another Buddha. Oh, wait. This one’s a Bodhissatva. We’ve only seen 60 of those.” Still, there was some very neat art, some very cool Sumerian Cuneiform items, and some other very pretty stuff. I’m sure that if I had been using a film camera I would have spent a lot less time in the museum.

On the other hand, our camera rocks. I used the flash exactly once all day and the pictures are all still quite nice. Too much artifacting on some, but overall very nice quality photos from a museum setting.

For a small sampling of those pictures (100 or so), check out Amanda’s photoblog, the National Museum Album (naturally).

And, suddenly, I feel like I’ve become an advertisement. “If you want to know more, why don’t you visit…”

Anyways, tomorrow we are getting up early and going to Tokyo Disneyland.

Yes, I know that certain among you bear certain resentments against this faceless mega-corp.

I would care more if it wasn’t so much dang fun.


~ by truth9 on April 30, 2007.

6 Responses to “Harajuku & The National Museum”

  1. Hi! Glad to know you are having a good time. You must have a good camera – the photos are lovely. I especially liked the one of Mount Fugi!! You finally got yourself a new hat!!! I’ll look forward to seeing it in a photo! And Amanda’s too!! I finally remembered that I could find out how you’re doing on here!! Glad I thought of it just now. Denis will be pleased to read this as well as Duane who’s probably read it already!! He will have checked out the photos, I’m sure. He does that regularly. Love ya, always!

  2. Hurray for getting lost in big cities and J-Pop!

    The “too many Buddhas” reminds me of our helter-skelter run through the National Gallery in London. “Too many Madonnas.”

    I’d say more but it’s going to take awhile to get through all the photos.

  3. yeah, where’s the hat??? he he he

  4. i take it back, cause you’re wearing a cool new hat on the ferris wheel! nice … wow those pics at seaworld came out great… i was almost afraid of the fishies all the way out here… 😛

  5. Hey, mom, glad you chose to post. Yup, you can keep track here.

    The “too many Buddhas” thing is exactly like the “too many Madonnas” thing.

    Glad to see you, Eve, and yup, that’s the new hat. I’m glad you like the fish.

  6. dreads


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