2012-10-28 - 7:06 a.m.
What a wet, miserable last day! At least it made it easy to leave Tokyo. When it started raining buckets and it got dark, that's it, I tossed in the towel. I am now the only living, breathing human customer sitting in the lounge sipping the questionable wine and pondering when I should take the free shower and where I can change my leftover money.
I woke pretty early again and tried to photograph the pink sunrise. As you can see, the pink is entirely lost. Who knows why? This old Easy Share camera just doesn't cut it in the low light conditions. I checked in for my flight, found a hotel for my last night in Los Angeles, and washed my hair. Basic puttering. This flight out doesn't leave until after midnight, so I'm going to be worn out before it even begins. Eventually, though, it was time to venture out into the rain.
The cool plan to stroll around Harajuku and Shibuya sorta worked. There were lots of costumes and incredible footwear choices but, even though it was broad daylight, there was no subtle way to grab any photos because it was pouring down rain or at least drizzling except when it was merely dark and gloomy, allowing thousands of people to push and shove into the street all at once. In other words, it was impossible conditions for taking photos with my camera. You will just have to believe me when I say I saw some sights. Spiked collars, you say? Sure, but I saw spiked shoes, backpacks, and even hats. The tattoos were fake -- painted on with henna in a few cases but mostly the fake tattoo pantyhose. Someone should tell the fake tattoo pantyhose maker that a real person festooned with tattoos is highly unlikely to have exactly the same pattern on both legs.
One of the costume shops I checked was the real deal, but they didn't allow photos. But you could be everything from a medieval emperor of old Edo to a French maid...that is, if a French maid was decked out in a costume in revolutionary red, white, and blue. Or, while on the French theme, you could simply go all out and wear the Napoleon costume. Speaking of maids, I saw actual maids who chose to dress like that by choice, instead of because their employer wanted them to dress up to hand out flyers. Leather wasn't a huge thing, but it was present. Lots of chains and skulls, mostly a costume, not the real thing. A shop across the way was called "Gothic and Lolita" which pretty much summed up the theme of the street.
When it really started raining buckets, I went into a place called Twist Potato. It was a potato on a stick, somehow cut and pulled out to make a long twisty curl that can then be quickly fried. Ah hell. I forgot to take a picture. Just look it up.
Rain, rain, rain. I tried to venture into the shrine but it immediately started coming down buckets, and it was time for something more than a foo-foo potato chip, so I ducked into the cafeteria for some kind of pork ramen soup and an Asahi beer. You'd think it would be a peaceful oasis out of the rain but NOOOOOOOO. A horrible tourist family sat down next to me, and their baby screamed for the next hour. They couldn't leave, nor could I, thanks to rain pouring buckets. And I could tell that they were utterly defeated, that they took it for granted that the horrible brat never stops screaming. Nope, obviously not a Japanese baby. They were English. No grandmothers in England? Obviously the baby was too young to travel. But nobody asked me...
The rain finally let up a little, and I was able to stroll into the shrine. Lots of women and children dressed up in traditional dress today. Adult males were excused, unless the traditional dress of the Japanese male is a dark suit with a tie, which I'm starting to think maybe it is.
A display of most auspicious chrysanthamums. Rare ones, huge ones bigger than my head, weird ones with petals that looked like bean sprouts. They even had bonsai mums, I'm not kidding.
Onward to Yoyogi Park. I found the Bird Sanctuary almost right away, which was pretty hilarious, since I didn't know they had one. Best bird was Varied Tit, and they allowed plenty of wonderful close-up views. There was also a very nice Little Grebe on the water. Plenty of Asian Spot-billed Ducks. Plenty of Japanese Wagtails chasing each other. But that's about it.
Did I mention that I picked up a few items at the everything's 100 yen store? Well, I did, including a little pouch with a belt that buckles around the waist. Very useful. I decided that I needed to go back and get another. But, first, I stumbled onto the huge peace and love rainbow community flea market at the Shibuya Gate. It held all the clichés -- hemp, rainbow flags, people trying to get people to sign "no nuke" petitions, "patagonian" (high altitude Peruvian or Bolivian) costume, Jamaican stoner wear, Amnesty International, Fair Trade, and even some hemp-wrapped crystals. Whew. If Americans paid that much for crystals in the outdoor market, we'd still be selling 'em! Apparently, the Japanese are willing to splash out when it comes to peace, love, fair trade, and colorful native folkwear from the Americas.
Oh, and live music, including a couple of dudes dotted here and there strumming their guitars. But you knew that. The scene just wouldn't be the scene without random dudes strumming their guitars.
After awhile, I realized that I am not wealthy enough to support freedom, love, peace, and rainbows, so I left the Shibuya Gate and returned to the Harajuku Gate. From there, I was steps away from Daiso ("everything's 100 yen") but OMG!!!! It had stopped raining for some time, and now the streets were thronged with barely room for anyone to take a deep breath. Every kind of costume, except a full bore furry -- some half hearted wearing a tail and ears but nobody about to commit to becoming another species this time, so I pretty much consider myself to have dipped on the furry-spotting for this trip. But the other fetishes were on full display, and the shoes in particular had to be seen to be believed. There was a woman walking (don't ask me how) in 8 inch platforms. There was a guy in mis-matched shoes. Spiked shoes, gold-toed shoes, high- heeled shiny Mary Janes in every color with contrasty lace ankle socks in every pastel color, and as for over-the-knee leather, latex, and vinyl boots, well, c'mon, bunky, that kind of thing's a dime a dozen.
Whew. I was just about to type that it was getting creepy that there's NO ONE EFFING HERE but some middle-aged white dude has now entered the lounge, so I am not going to be the only traveler on this rainy night.
Anyhoo, it started getting dark and raining buckets, so I called time. I headed back to Korea Town, although I took a detour to pay a final visit to the high-priced, high end Peachfronted Conure. He was still there, and I swear he has gotten even fatter. The owl was also still there, and this time I took note of the price -- 250,000 yen. He was also wide awake, because the employee was feeding the rats, and the owl was absolutely fascinated by the rat activity. Hey, if it was up to me, dude, you could eat every rat in the place!
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