On day three we were shown a little bit of the fun side of the Japanese people. Since the school/work week is six days for most people here, Sunday is guaranteed to be the day of play, so we took part.
A little jet lagged, Andy and I woke up a little early, so we decided to venture out on our own. We got a little lost because the roads are so narrow and windy, but eventually found our way to a store. I decided to buy some tank tops (what I brought to Japan was too hot), but the Japanese are so small, I had to buy a large (in America I wear an XS)! If you wear anything larger than an American M, Japan is not the place for you to go shopping…
For breakfast we stopped in a small shop for some onigiri, which is a rice ball covered in seaweed, and filled with fish. If you like sushi, you would like this.
Our first stop was Harajuku, which is a part of Tokyo with many cheap shops and eccentric fashions – from girls in Bo peep costumes to boys in pink leather pants. This is a typically a high tourist area, but the recent earthquake has lowered the foreign crowds. Nonetheless, it was a great time with GREAT shopping. I hope to return there before we leave. (Side note: there were a lot of Africans in this area with hip-hop couture shops. They expected little ole me to want to buy their items.) Further down this area we saw street performers, which is a common Sunday thing to see. There seemed to be an affinity for 50s Americana amongst many of the people, so we were able to watch a dance routine full of poodle skirts, denim, and hair grease.
Appropriately enough, the next stop was the Meiji Shrine. Years ago Emperor Meiji adopted an idea to keep what’s good about Japan and combine it with what’s good about the western world. Clearly that idea stuck, and in honor of him you can find barrels of European wine outside of the shrine alongside barrels of traditional Japanese sake.
We saw other sights, like the club district, television museum, and traditional Japanese cemeteries, but the most awe-inspiring thing for me was the Zojouji Temple. Shrines tend to always be dedicated to people or ideals (Shinto), but temples are places of prayer and meditation (Buddhism). I had never seen a single structure so huge! While there, we watched monks perform a ceremony; it was humbling to see another religion being taken as seriously (if not more) than your own.
For dinner we went to West Tokyo (what people see on TV – flashing lights, crowded streets, etc.) and had okonomiyaki, which is described as a Japanese savory pancake. To me, it reminded me more of an omelet. The mixture is brought to your table top grill, mixed, and cooked right in front of you, much like Korean BBQ. Washed down with a few beers (much lighter than any light American beer), we enjoyed the concoction and went back home. Sunday was a fun day.