Wednesday June 16, 2010
HARAJUKU, Japan – Today was filled with shopping. We left the hotel early and walked to the train station, right behind the hotel and boarded the train for Harajuku. Harajuku is a famous shopping district.
After several train transfers we arrived in Harajuku and were given about two hours to walk around and shop. I walked to the oriental bazaar hoping to find some unique gifts. This bazaar was nothing close to what I had imagined. I pictured a street with vendors selling handmade souvenirs and heckling people passing by to purchase their gifts. What I found instead was an upscale shop. When I first walked in, I almost left thinking that I would never be able to afford anything in the store. I made this judgment based on the items that they were selling and the design of the store. Showcased displays included pottery, artwork, and samurai swords. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything was reasonably priced and affordable. I purchased several woodblock prints from the nineteenth century. I completed my shopping for my family and friends.
When I was finished shopping I walked back with the group toward Sweets Paradise for lunch. While walking I noticed that there were small stands on the sides of streets selling freshly made crepes. These stands were equivalent to a hot dog stand in the USA. I enjoyed a chocolate and banana crepe then met up with the rest of the group for lunch.
Today’s lunch was at Sweets Paradise, which is a restaurant that served a buffet of Japanese deserts. I made sure to try as much as I could, of course I don’t remember half the names or the ingredients. Everything was delicious. After lunch we split into two groups for the next leg of the trip. One group was traveling to Shibuya to shop and the other was going to Akihabara. Since Shibuya was closer to our hotel I decided to go to Akihabara, which was further away.
Akihabara is the anime and electronics capital of Japan. I have no interest in anime but I decided that since I was in Japan I would check out this famous area. We arrived after about a half hour ride on the train and walked to the Animate building. This building was about eight floors high with endless anime movies, magazines, and action figures. This was definitely not a place for me. I hung out for a while then left with Vienna and Joe to search for some Godzilla memorabilia. One would think that Godzilla would be a huge marketing item in Japan, yet
we asked over ten people and they could not point out one store that sold Godzilla merchandise. Eventually we found out about a store that was located in the basement of a building that sold only Godzilla memorabilia. Vienna purchased a action figure for a friend of hers and then we left. We saw a Mr. Donut shop, which was the equivalent Dunkin Donuts, and we decided to grab a snack. I had two donuts; one was frosted with green tea frosting and filled with sweet bean paste. The other donut looked similar to a Boston Crème donut, only it was topped with green tea frosting and filled with green tea frosting and sweet beans. Both were delicious. After our donut stop we left and headed back to the hotel for our night out.
Tonight for dinner Vienna, Leah (our professor), and I were meeting up with another professor from our college for dinner. This professor was doing research in Japan and was a professor that both Vienna and I had had for our fall semester class. We met her and her husband at the train station and then walked to a nearby Korean barbeque restaurant. This restaurant was the most traditional restaurant that I had eaten at the entire trip. The tables were low to the ground and you had kneel to sit at the table. We talked for a while about the trip and all of the exciting places we had seen. For dinner everyone had Bi Bim Bop. The only difference in this meal was that the meat was served raw and then allowed to cook in the bowl. The Bi Bim Bop I have been served at home was served with cooked meat and the bowl seemed to only heat the sauce and foods placed in it. This was the best Bi Bim Bop I had ever had.
When dinner had ended we walked back to the hotel and parted ways. Vienna and I hung out at the hotel for a while waiting to see where everyone went. A few of the Technos students joined us and talked about traveling into Fuchu to meet up with the larger group of students. When we arrived at the restaurant, it had just closed but we were allowed in to visit with everyone. All the students were celebrating Meagan’s birthday. It was a lively celebration with a mix of all the international students as well as the Technos students. After about an hour of hanging out we left and walked back to the hotel.