Posts Tagged Harajuku

January 8, 2006 part 4 – Hanging out in Harajuku

Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.

After spending the afternoon in Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi park, The Penpal, UPS, and I decided to walk across the street and explore the high fashion district of Harajuku.

Harajuku is filled with trendy stores selling all kinds of expensive fashionable clothing. It’s also possible to find sensibly priced but still fashionable clothing as well if you look around a bit harder. We took our time walking through the busy side streets, checking out some of the displays and small stores. We also took dorky looking pictures with crazy hats.

Harajuku - me Harajuku - UPS

A full day of walking around had us hungry, so we decided to stop in at a kaiten sushi restaurant across from Harajuku station. UPS had eaten kaiten sushi before in Winnipeg, at a small chain called “Sushi Train”. Instead of a conveyor belt, there was a small electric train that drove around with sushi on it. There are lots of options for sushi in North America, but most of the menu is rolls. In Japan, sushi is dominated by nigiri sushi, which are the traditional looking pieces of fish on a lump of rice. UPS is an adventurous guy who was about to start a 4 month tour of Asia, so he had no problem trying out fish that was not familiar to him.

After stuffing ourselves to the point of pain, we started working our way across the street to Harajuku station. The station area was completely packed, and we had to shuffle our way through the crowds to get to the platform. We took the Yamanote line back to Shinagawa and then took the shinkansen towards Mishima.

Our car in the shinkansen was mostly empty, which is a bit unusual. We were discussing some of the interesting things about Japanese life, and the subject of hostess bars came up. UPS was interested to learn that there was also something called a host club, which was the same idea but with sexy, outgoing men treating female customers like queens (for money of course). UPS asked more questions, and ended up getting The Penpal to teach him some Japanese that he might need to flirt and drink with customers. It was hilarious.

We parted ways with The Penpal in Mishima, then UPS and I continued to Numazu. I was tired after a full day of exploring Tokyo, but UPS, who never seems to run out of energy, wanted to make the best use of his time in Japan. Instead of going home, we went out for drinks with some other English teachers at Speak EZ, the English school and bar in Numazu. After a few drinks even UPS was ready for sleep. It was a long day but a lot of fun!

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December 15, 2004 – Immigration office master

My Weezer shirt that I bought in Harajuku

My Weezer shirt that I bought in Harajuku

Today I went to the immigration office in Shinyurigaoka to get my re-entry permit for my passport. I now feel pretty confident in my skills at navigating the immigration office, and can usually be in and out in about 10 minutes.

Like most people, my work visa expires after a certain period of time (one year for me), and will also expire if I leave the country. To prevent the visa from expiring when I go home, I needed to buy a re-entry permit. The permits are available as one time permits or unlimited times for the period of one year. Since I am only planning to leave Japan and return once in the next year, I bought the cheaper one time permit.

Immigration officers are not allowed to handle cash directly, which is a nice way to prevent anything shady from happening. I had to go to a small convenience store in the same building to buy a voucher for a re-entry stamp. I then returned to the immigration office, where they exchanged the voucher for a sticker in my passport.

After finishing up at the immigration office, I spent most of my day exploring some cool stores in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku. I bought some books for my flight home at Kinokuniya, and a cool Weezer shirt in Harajuku.

In the evening, I met up with Okonomi in Noborito. We went out for Okonomiyaki for dinner and then went to karaoke. Since I was traveling back to Numazu, it was a much more reserved karaoke experience that the last time. After karaoke I gathered up all of the Christmas presents that I couldn’t bring home on my shopping trip to Asakusa, and then returned to Numazu. It was a fun day, but the highlight was explaining to a taxi driver at Numazu station where I lived in Japanese, and having him drive me to the right place!

If you have only ever spoken one language, this doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but trust me, it felt great.

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