Boomeranged back again to Tokyo from the countryside, which has turned out to be a good way to deal with the craziness and rush of this big city (i.e., in small doses).We left our little rustic Fuji Hakone Guesthouse in Hakone and took a slightly out of the way route so we could ride the old narrow gauge mountain train from Gora. It was fun creaking along a narrow track cut into the mountain, lined tightly with purple hydrangea.
After one bus ride, three train and one subway (not as hard as it sounds) we were back at our sleek business hotel in Tokyo, Super Lohas where the lovely female staff greeted us as old friends (this is the third time we have stayed with them during this trip.) After lunch at what turned out to be a Chinese, not Japanese, restaurant near our hotel (we went where diners were. Chinese was a nice change) it was time to brave the crowds and check out the crazy teeny bopper scene in Harajuku on Takesita Dori and beyond.
Takesita dori, Harajuku
Walking along Omotesando Dori, we were in the quintessential dense crowd we’ve seen in movie depictions of Tokyo, with clans of kids dressed in all kinds of costumes, from baby dolls to punks. (This is the first place in Japan where I’ve seen tattoos and pierced and trans Japanese.) It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever been part of but everyone seemed to get where they were going and keep moving without crashing into each other. I wonder if people are so orderly here (for example, lining up for various subway cars) because it’s the only way to make a city with this many people function well.
Dinner tonight was at a packed hole-in-the wall tucked underneath the Yamamote train line rail in Ginza called Andy’s. Excellent, affordable, quick service. It was also one of the few places we’ve been that seemed to do it all, rather then specializing in say, sashimi, or yakatori (grilled meat/veg on skewers). We had excellent everything– asparagus, mushrooms, gyoza stuffed chicken wings, fried chicken and garlic prawns (small portions so not too much food….) We walked back to our hotel through Ginza, with all its fancy stores lit up and flashing.
I bought a yukata (the traditional cotton robe we’ve enjoyed at almost every hotel we’ve stayed at here) at the Oriental Bazaar.
We also wandered the narrow streets of Aoysama, an upscale neighborhood of fancy little shops and modern architecture homes that reminded me of London’s Covent Garden (even before we chanced upon a store called Neal’s Yard, an old Covent Garden favorite.)