Day 13: Roaming the streets of Harajuku

After a class on Tanizaki’s ‘Naomi’, which is a great noveI about the relationship between a 28 year old man and 15 year old girl, I made my way to Harajuku. Harajuku is a place near Shibuya known for its cheap shopping, described as a sacred street for teenagers by my host mom (I have never heard more squealing and ‘kawaii’s in my life). It was a nice place to walk around. I noticed lots of foreigners there. Crepes were a popular food item being sold there. After walking past the third crepe stall, I felt the need to try one and bought the highly recommended macha cheesecake and strawberry crepe. It was heavenly. 
Harajuku’s Takeshta steet-known for its cheap shops
My beautiful crepe-the highly recommended macha cheescake and strawberry with whipped cream
The crepe menu at Angel Heart, the oldest crepe shop in Harajuku
In the Hirajuku area, there were several trucks which drove by with music blaring from them. On the main street, I saw a caucasian man outside the train station playing music and trying to make money. The area was really lively and I heard an unusual amount of english and hollywood music.
A passing truck at Harajaku with blaring (and really good) music
I later went to Yoyogi park nearby which is connected with a Meiji shrine. The park was huge. Once inside, it was so quiet and peaceful.
Barrels of sake near the Meiji Shrine, representing the sake offered to enshrined dieties on an annual basis
I discovered the secret of the kotatsu today. Kotatsu is a low japanese table with a heater below it. People put their feet under the kotatsu in winters to warm their feet.
I also wore a hokairo today. Since it was chilly and random parts of my body hurt, Kaori-san handed me a hokairo which is a little cushion with a sticky substance on one side. It is stuck on an undershirt and provides warmth to your body for up to 10 hours. My body ache disappeared. Japanese technology continues to amaze me.
The heater below the Kotatsu, used to warm people in winters. 

Day 8: A typical Saturday

Mostly a chilled Saturday with the family, but we had our little adventures.
We lazed around all morning, eating and watching television. In the evening we went kimono shopping for Kaori-san who is taking kimono classes and needed one for it (yes its not easy to tie a kimono and taking classes to learn is not unusual). I learnt that there are casual and dressy kimonos. They cost a fair bit and its takes 20 minutes for an expert to tie a kimono. It has several accesories to it which are necessary to complete the outfit and cost additional money. People buy different kinds of belts to complement the kimono. The concept is similar to that of a saree wherein people buy different blouses to wear with the same saree. A kimono is normally stiched depending on the buyer’s size and body dimensions, but used kimonos are sold as well which can be bought at a cheaper price.
Kaori-san, Masaki-san and me at the Izakaya 
Later, we went to an Izakaya for dinner and drinks. An Izakaya is a sort of restaurant cum bar where people come to drink and eat. It was the loudest place by far that I had come across in Japan. Many people were already quite drunk and chatted with their friends. Many people go to Izakayas after work, and Japanese people frequently socialize here. I couldn’t help but notice that there were very few women in the Izakaya. It was quite different from a regular bar, where drunk people often create a havoc and men hit on women. In the Izakaya I went to, people kept to the groups they came with. 
We ordered some sake (Japanese rice wine) and shared some local dishes. It was such a fun experience! 
Cold sake is served in the little black box which is also filled with sake. It is meant to show hospitality and generosity. 
Motsuni-pork gut with tofu-a food popular during the world war when people didn’t want any body part of animals to be wasted. 
Namero-cold fish with vegetables. 

Shopping Disappointments

One would think that being a girl, I like shopping. I don’t. Not that I don’t like new things. (I like them for one or two days after which I get bored and forget about them) But I don’t like going out and buying new things myself. Shopping can be really disappointing.

Whenever I go with money in my wallet and a mood to try on clothes, there are absolutely no good and reasonably priced clothes to be found. But whenever I go without any money and an extremely lethargic mood, VOILA! The end of season sale is on!

Disappointed Shopper

I wish there was a mobile app which would just let me browse the stores before I actually got there. *sigh* where is technology when you need it?