Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 13 in Tokyo

Diane is not feeling well so Geoff and Laura head out. They catch the Metro to Shinjuku then get the JR service to Harajuku, which is only two stops away.

First thing we check out is the Meiji Shrine, a short walk from the station. The shrine honours emperor Meiji and the empress Shoken. Meiji was emperor when imperial rule was restored from the Shogunate in 1868 and he played a key role in Japanese modernization, opening the country to western influences and encouraging a greater sense of national identity.

The avenue at the entrance to the shrine is marked by a huge Tori.

Further along the avenue we come to the shrine itself. Immediately at the front there is a Kyogen performance underway. This is a traditional form of down to earth comic theatre without masks or props. Unfortunately though the audience was highly amused there was no translation so we were none the wiser!

On our retun to the entrance we passed a Noh performance in full swing. This in another traditional form of theatre where the actors wear masks to represent the characters they portray. Their slow choreographed actions are performed to music. The photo actually shows the orchestra on the right of the stage. Again the script was, as you would expect, entirely in Japanese

From the Meiji shrine we continued to the shopping area which is what Harajuku is all about. I should mention at this stage that our day 13 is the Monday of Golden Week, a series of three public holidays (so it's not really a full week). This is probably the most crowded time to do anything in Tokyo, particularly shopping! We headed down Takeshita Dori, which is a popular area for fashion. To say it was crowded would be an understatement.

We then decided to split up. Laura continued checking on to check out the shops on Omotesando, which is a long wide boulevard with very upmarket shops.

More photos of Harajuku in Golden Week - CRAZY!!!

Geoff found the Ukiyo-E Ota Memorial Museum of Art which house the best collection of woodblock Ukiyo-e prints in the country. These prints, produced in the mid nineteenth century showed views of of pre-modernisation Edo (Tokyo) and were absolutely stunning. The example pictured below was in the exhibition and was typical of those on display.

Laura and I met and strolled along some less-crowded side streets to Shibuya and back checking out the various boutiques. There were shops to suit all fashions and tastes.

What is obvious is the fashion sense of the Japanese of both sexes. The variety and inventiveness of the various styles is amazing. If Thailand is the 'land of smiles' then Japan is the 'land of style' where else would you see beautifully dressed women riding bicycles in high heels?

By about 6.00pm we were getting hungry, so returning through always busy Shinjuku we picked up some supplies (gyoza, dumplings, pastries) to take home for dinner as Diane had rung to say she was feeling better.

-- Post From Geoff's iPhone

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