Posts Tagged Yoyogi Park
As part of my farewell tour, I went to Kawasaki today to meet up with my old housemate Kim. We went out for okonomiyaki in Noborito before meeting up with her fiancee Kame.
Kim was one of the most fun people I had met during my time at Hello House, so I wasn’t surprised to find out that Kame was a pretty cool guy as well. We all went to Yoyogi park to join up with a Hello House leaving party for someone who had moved in after my time there. Living in a dorm filled with English teachers means lots of people coming and going. You never really get to know everyone well, but you do get to attend a lot of farewell parties. Almost every farewell party I have attended in Japan was at an izakaya, so an outdoor party was a nice change of pace. I’m really going to miss the ability to drink legally in public when I return to Canada!
Eventually, like with every other party, we ended up at karaoke. I introduced Kame and Kim to Sad Cows Song which they instantly loved. We got back to their apartment late and I spent the night on the couch. It was a very fun day but the morning is going to hurt.
Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.
My friend UPS, my girlfriend The Penpal and I had just visited the spectacular Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Upon exiting the shrine, we did a quick tour around Yoyogi Park, which is always lively on a Sunday. We saw people playing instruments, actors with kendo sticks practicing fight choreography, people flying kites, and even the famous rockabilly guys who dance near the entrance, although fewer than usual due to the brisk temperatures.
We also encountered a group of young men with a microphone and a speaker who were freestyle rapping for the crowd. Rap is not as popular in Japan as most other types of music, and as a sweeping generalization, Japanese rap is generally not very good. I am not blaming the MCs, it’s the language itself that makes rapping challenging. (Author’s note, French is actually a fantastic language for rap)
UPS decided to record the unique sight of freestyle rappers in Japan with his camera. The lead rapper apparently did not like this, turned his attention to UPS, and then started spitting some derogatory freestyle disses in Japanese.
Yes, my friend got rap attacked at Yoyogi park. No, I never thought I would type that particular sentence.
It took us a few minutes to process what had just happened. Since none of us had ever been rap attacked before, we didn’t know how to respond. If this was a movie and UPS was able to speak Japanese, I assume he would have thrown down an impromptu battle rap session right there in the park. However we just ended up walking towards Harajuku laughing about the experience and wondering what was going to happen next.
Today was the last full day of my family’s visit to Japan. It was another scorching hot and humid day. Since we had no set agenda, we discussed possible plans for the day over breakfast. My dad and sister were both looking to go to Tokyo, and my mom was tired, hot, and just wanted a day off.
After breakfast I talked with my sister and my father to find out what they wanted to do. My dad wanted more sightseeing, and my sister wanted to see something fun and do some shopping. My dad was okay with a solo trip, so I decided that I would drop him off near Meiji Shrine and take my sister to Shibuya.
My dad drinks with a stranger
Armed with a guidebook and some basic directions, my dad left the train at Meiji Jingu-Mae station. He was able to find Meiji Shrine and spent some time looking around. After the shrine, he decided to wander around Yoyogi park. At some point he was approached by a Japanese man about the same age who wanted to practice English. They ended up sitting outside together drinking cold beer and talking about Canada and Japan. Remember kids – always talk to strangers!
When he was telling us about it later, my dad was very proud of making a new friend and finding his way back to Hello House successfully.
My sister and I go to Shibuya 109
My sister and I got off the Yamanote line in Shibuya. There are so many things to look at in Shibuya, but the one we focused on was Shibuya 109; the center of young women’s fashion. The 109 building is a famous Shibuya landmark. Since all the stores inside only sell women’s clothing, I had no reason to ever go inside. Not knowing what to expect, we entered the front door.
The building is tall and filled with small boutiques. Shoppers wind their way though the building from bottom to top. Shibuya 109 was the girliest place I have ever been in my entire life. The interior was an explosion of pink, cuteness, and impractical shoes. I think I may have been the only male in the entire building. It was awkward, but my sister had fun looking at all of the clothing and accessories.
After escaping 109, we did some other exploring in the area before returning back to Hello House to meet up for dinner. Shibuya 109 was not really my thing, but when you are in a foreign country you have to try new things!
On Sunday there is always something interesting going out near Meiji Shrine. Instead of our usual breakfast routine, we all grabbed convenience store breakfast and got on the train. From Noborito we took the Odakyu line to Shinjuku, then took Yamanote line to Harajuku. At Harajuku we walked out towards the entrance of Meiji shrine.
On the bridge towards Meiji shrine you can find a bunch of cosplayers hanging out. Most of the cosplayers were dressed as anime characters or members of visual kei bands. The costumes were all fantastically detailed. For some reason there were also two people dressed in Nazi uniforms. You simply could not do that in Canada (or the US, the UK, etc etc). There were a lot of cosplayers, but apparently if the weather was nicer there would have been many more.
After the bridge, we toured Meiji shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife. Meiji Shrine was under construction from 1915 to 1926, with the main building being destroyed in World War II and rebuilt thanks to a public fundraising effort in the late 50s. The shrine and grounds are impressive, giving you the feeling that you have escaped Tokyo. We were lucky enough to catch parts of a traditional Japanese wedding while we were there.
After the Shrine, we wandered around Yoyogi Park, which is always lively. I lost track of how many bands we saw playing. There were also some girls singing and dancing along with Japanese pop music. Hippie was the only person brave enough to attempt to talk to them afterwards. We stopped for a quick snack at a takoyaki stand. The guys heard “tako” and thought Mexican food (taco). They were a little surprised to see the fried dough balls filled with octopus and covered in sauce. Everyone tried one, but once again Hippie was the hero eating two octopus balls at once. Naturally we made several immature jokes about this.
On the way out of Yoyogi park, we saw the famous rockabilly dancers that show up every weekend. They have leather pants, sunglasses, and crazy pompadours, and dance to loud rockabilly music while drinking beer. If you are ever in Yoyogi park on the weekend, you can’t leave until you see these guys.
The first part of our day at the Shrine and park were pretty fun, but we were just getting started. More to come!
(2014 Update) Check out this post about Yoyogi Park with awesome pictures on a superior blog here: http://lifetoreset.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/rock-and-roll-at-yoyogi-park/