March 3rd 2017 – Exploring Antique Fair, Harajuku, and Hinamatsuri (girls’ day holiday)
When we woke up this morning, Jasmine’s cousin asked us if we wanted to go to an antique fair with her. We didn’t have any plans, so we thought, “Why not?” We got on the train at Yoyogi and made a transfer at the Harajuku, Omote Sando, area to take a different train to the Antique Fair at the Ryutsu Center.
The incredible thing was that while waiting at the platform in Harajuku, I noticed an immediate change in the outfits and styles of the Japanese people there. Gone were the staid black of winter coats. For the first time since being in Japan, I was surrounded by Japanese girls in Lolita outfits, guys looking grunge, and girls decked out in colorful and bright clothing.
We knew we had to come back and explore Harajuku some more after we were done with the Antique fair. Once we left the Harajuku area, the monotonous black winter jackets and businessmen repopulated the scenery.
Another thing I found amazing were the levels of business and financials and all the ancillary operations around the financials. It’s like, at the center you have this beast and then all the ancillary operations that are there just to feed the beast.
The Antique Fair
What amazed me was that it was almost like an antique fair back in New York, except everything was written in Japanese. There were old metallic remnants from a bygone era that I had no idea what they would have been used for. There were artworks, clothing, jewelry, just about anything old you could want.
Jaz got a nice antique silk kimono for around $10 USD or 1000¥. [We found out later that now adays, kimonos are made mostly with synthetic fabrics and not silk, but still cost money.] This was my first time seeing kimonos hung up. They looked so beautifully arranged.
After the antique fair, we went back to explore Harajuku in the Omote Sando area more in-depth.
There was so much shopping. Literally shop upon shop of American, European, and Japanese brands. I was blown away by so much commercialism. Imagine millions of Japanese people and tourists walking around, shopping, eating, taking pictures. I enjoyed seeing the wonderful sight of capitalism at its finest. I could smell hot waffles being freshly made in the many cafes that adorn the streets. Nice thought for a little sugar pick-me-up if your blood sugar is low from all the shopping.
There were just so many cute little souvenirs and toy shops and many stuffed animals and action figures that you could ever want to buy. It was cuteness overload!
What blew my mind was when we were walking down the street and a girl wearing a bright pink tutu and all pink leather jacket walked past us.
“Jaz, did you see that?!” I exclaimed to her.
“Yes, Jack. That was a Harajuku girl,” she said matter of factly.
Harajuku girls are an actual thing, like in the Gwen Stefani song. I also didn’t manage to take a picture of one but you can google them to get an idea of the fashion. Their outfits and mannerisms goes against the cultural norm in Japan. Their colors are loud and bright.
Definitely for the 2020 Olympics Jasmine and I need to come back here with a ton more money so we don’t feel bad when and/or if we buy stuff.
[In the Omote Sando – Harajuku area, we went to a store called Oriental Baazar. You can’t miss it because it’s near the that big 4-way intersection and all the big screen commercial going on at the intersection. Also, why I recommend the place if you’re a tourist looking to get traditional Japanese stuff for your family and friends, this is the place to go. It has a lot of the Japanese things you’d expect from Japan, all in one place. Jaz and I spent a good amount of time there. It’s three floors full of Japanese goods. I bought a men’s kimono with the Tokugawa family crest on it lol. I really should have worn it to the Kyoto Nijo-jo, the head of the Tokugawa shogunate’s castle because his crest was everywhere there. Also, “jo” means “castle” in Japanese. So sometimes you’ll see it spelled “nijo castle” as well.]
Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day Holiday)
After Harajuku, when we got back to our neighborhood, we bought some groceries to make food for Hinamatsuri, which is Girls Day Holiday in Japan where families celebrate and show appreciation for all the females in the family.
It felt weird to be walking around wearing a man’s kimono, probably because I’ve never worn one in my life. What was interesting was that not a single person batted an eyelash when I was walking through the streets in a kimono! I at least half-expected people to be looking at me or staring because I thought I looked like a weird sight. [I would find out much later that wearing kimono to walk around Japan is so common for men and women that they don’t think twice about it.]
We got some cake, drinks, and fish to celebrate!
Jasmine’s cousin’s wife taught us how to make authentic Japanese bento boxes! Oh the handmade beauty! I tried to cut Totoro out of seaweed lol, got pintrested.
Made tamagoyaki (egg rolls) and onigiri (rice balls).
After we finished eating, drinking, and celebrating Hinamatsuri, we got ready to go to Kyoto the next day! Jumping ship to a whole new city, AH! We used Hyperdia.com to help us plan our JR rails and travels. It’s free and has travel for rails throughout the entire country. Japan is nice in that you can travel by train throughout the entire country and not feel disconnected or hassled. While we are in the trains we use the wifi router that we got on Day 1 from the airport.
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