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Almost-100 Aspects of Omotesando/Harajuku

I've spent a lot of time in the Omotesando/Harajuku areas the past few days. While some of the time was spent doing specific things--I had a lunch date with a friend, for instance--a lot of the time I just...wandered around. Despite the incoming typhoon, the past few days have been as near perfect as I could imagine and I enjoyed just being able to walk around without any solid commitments. I could pop into any little boutique or gallery that caught my eye (even though I know I don't have the budget to buy anything I could at least look) and admire the quirky architecture.

I know that in some respects spending time in Omotesando and Harajuku is not actually that exciting. It's quite a touristy area and has its share of shopping experiences that aren't unique at all (it is, for instance, where many major international brands like M.A.C, Valentino, Chanel etcetcetc. have stores). But the area will always be special to me because it's where I first solidified what I love most about Japan: the blend between modern and traditional. Nowhere else can you go from this:

to this:

simply by crossing a single bridge. It's what struck me the first time I visited Japan in 2009 and has continued on to this day.

So. To that end, here are some photos from the area of buildings or places that caught my eye:

I can't help but be struck by the vivid street art, the eclectic architecture, the contrast and whimsy of brick and wood, and the somewhat fatalistic tint to most of it.

While walking around I visited the Togo Shrine, a shinto shrine dedicated to the Marquis Togo Heihachiro who was an admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy.

To get there you crossed a wooden pathway that bridged a pond filled with hungry, hungry koi fish until you reached the main shrine grounds. It's a peaceful reprieve from the chaos and insanity--the electric lights, the blaring advertisements, and the sheet colorful chaos of Harajuku shops--of the surrounding neighborhood.

I also visited the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, also located right next to a Harajuku icon, the Laforet department store--setter of trends and style.

It's a small museum that exhibits a rotating piece of the 12,000-piece strong ukiyo-e (literally "floating world pictures") print collection of Ota Seizo the Fifth. The current exhibition was an extensive display of Yoshitoshi's "100 Aspects of the Moon." Some of them I'd seen before (one was even at the Yale University Art Gallery!) and they're utterly haunting and gorgeous. The compositions are spectacular. I couldn't take photos in the gallery but if anyone is interested in seeing what some of them look like you can click HERE .

To end the evening, I stumbled across a taiko drum performance in Shinjuku, the perfect energetic way to end an evening:

Now it's back to work, tomorrow, and then to yet MORE job training, though this time it's a three-day retreat-type venture in a neighboring prefecture.

Also, if people have a preference of what content they'd like to see--more photos, more analysis, more daily-life commentary, let me know in either the comments here (I do see and read them!) or via email or whatever works best for you.


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