A day in the park

Before I went to bed last night, I prepared a quick-escape bag – a tote bag filled with clothes, shoes, water, snacks. Enough to pick up and grab if anything happened in the night.

Before the quake, the plan had been to jump on the shinkansen with my travelling buddy James and go to Osaka and Kyoto for a couple of days exploring. Osaka for the night life, Kyoto for the temples.

The shinkansen timetable had been stopped after the earthquake, but apparently the Osaka shink was back running on a limited schedule. But I didn’t really want to go anywhere that wasn’t walking distance to my hotel and risk getting stranded if the trains went down again.

So we decided to continue with our mission that had been so rudely interrupted by the Goddam quake – a visit to Harajuku.

The Yamanote line was running on a reduced schedule, but that seemed to mean trains every five minutes, rather than every two minutes. We arrived at Harajuku and started to explore.

It’s a cool area, full of crazy fashion shops, but today it felt quiet. Most of the shops that were open were smaller boutiques, with larger stores and department stores being closed, or opening later in the afternoon.

One icon of Harajuku is the Jingu Bridge, which is the hangout spot of the crazy loligoth girls and boys. They hang out, pose and generally be fabulous. Except today the bridge was empty. Only a few tourists wandered around, like it was a forgotten corner of an unremarkable neighbourhood. I guess a massive disaster takes the fun out of dress-up.

We wandered across the bridge to the Meiji Shrine. A wedding party was having photos taken. The bride was wearing a start white dress, her bridesmaids wore colourful kimono and the groom and his lads were in black suits. They stood, posed and looked happy.

At the shrine there were small wooden boards on which visitors could write a prayer. My eye drifted to the few written in English. On one a small boy’s shaky handwriting said “I want everything to be good”. Me too, son.

We then went on to Shibuya. Normally it’s buzzing with people. Today it was subdued, like a New Zealand Sunday afternoon. We wandered around, looked at some shops, including the truly mental Don Quijote store, a treasure trove of stuff no one needs and yet can’t live without.

I still don’t have any plans. I guess it all depends on how that whole nuclear power station thing pans out – which weirdly feels like a long-forgotten legacy of being a child of the ’80s.

2 thoughts on “A day in the park”

  1. It’s really stink, but the numbers of cosplayers on the bridge have been in steady decline. We went to Harajuku a bunch of times on our last trip and only the awesome costumers once.

    Ditto for Akihabara.

  2. “I guess it all depends on how that whole nuclear power station thing pans out – which weirdly feels like a long-forgotten legacy of being a child of the ’80s.”

    As a child of the ’90s, I can’t begin to tell you how weird the whole nuclear plant issue seems – Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were just and well before I was born, respectively, so they are fixed in my mind as “things that happened in the past”, like the Soviet Union. More importantly, they’re in the “things now fixed” box, like the threat of nuclear war and the use of CFCs. Except, apparently…not. Scary.

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