Sunday, July 5, 2015

Weekend (6.27 - 6.28): Harajuku at Last

Now that we have money to spend for the first time since last December (yay!), we've started going out and doing stuff like normal people, at long last.
People be all like, "Have you gone to this and that and the other super cute fun place in Tokyo?!" And I'm like, "Bitch, what do you think?" I got a shitty job I hate immediately after landing here and have been completely broke since, largely because I put my entire first paycheck since before Christmas into getting us out of the disgusting sharehouse we were staying at and into our own apartment. Our free time is spent going to the grocery store, cooking, cleaning, making long miserable journeys to and from Ikea to furnish this place, and so on, just like any other normal, boring adults. It's just the tedious rhythm of life, occasionally punctuated by a hardcore or thrash metal show.

I want those times to be over. Things aren't looking great in terms of my other job prospects right now, but maybe they'll pick up in a month. The important thing is to actually start enjoying our time here instead of being constantly stressed out and pissed.

So, last weekend, Hannes and I went to the best restaurant we've found at our home station, an Israeli one called Shamaim. Their hummus, falafel, dill onions and other salads are exactly what you want them to be. Their pita bread, I predict, will be one of the more likely causes of my imminent death, because it's so stupidly delicious and soft that I want to live in it, even if I am allergic to it. Milk is back off the list of things that don't kill me, too, but we've also been ordering their lovely little creamy desserts. I think the caramel cinnamon one with raisins and the grenadine with peanuts are the best.







These pics are actually from the first time we went to Shamaim, when I was so depressed about how my virtually non-existent job prospects here have made me feel so worthless that I was completely silent on the long train ride back home (to this station, that is). Hannes cheered me up by being awesome and started what will probably become a tradition of ordering caipirinhas every time we go there.

The free bellydancing show last Friday was a lot of fun, though the woman dancing had to be at least 55 years old. She was wearing silver and gold, and honestly, was still going strong, living her life and being awesome. I didn't have a camera of any kind on me, so I didn't get any photos. Actually, we knew that the free shows were the last Friday of each month, but we hadn't correlated it consciously at all. We just thought of going because the place is delicious.
We ended up in a few of the professional-quality birthday pics of the party sitting next to us, though, and it was really nice and jaunty all around.

The next day Hannes had to go to an international economic syposium at Keio University for work and I spent the morning writing more cover letters - I've lost count of how many I've done now, as I've applied for everything from international used auto sales to professional image consulting - and applying for a couple of jobs before meeting NiQui and Rejon in Harajuku. 

4 months in Tokyo and I still hadn't been. You know, that whole thing of being broke and not doing anything fun that I opened this post with. As I told them, I could practically see my teenage self looking back at me in the mirror every day with nothing but contempt and occasionally trying to strangle me through the glass.

We went to Bodyline and had a good laugh at some less-fortunate design combinations and what it would be like trying to cram our boobs into dresses half the width of the perfectly average and healthy Western woman. 
I found one of those little clip-on mini side hats that I kind of wanted for only 500 yen, but didn't end up getting it. It was a summery little number with a ribbon and spray of flowers. Since I'm still thinking about it, I should probably go back for it.. >_>

The other obligatory store to hit was the 4-story Harajuku Kiddy Land, and holy shit, I thought I was safely beyond the point where I could be overwhelmed, but this place proved me wrong.

Their sections are organised by character/franchise, so you know, there's a Crayon Shin-chan section, a Gudetama one, even one for Cheburashka (I want those teacups so bad). 

There's a display of dancing Sanrio robot plush toys that's way more hypnotic than it should be.

The Sailormoon section is at once glorious and heartbreaking, because of course, the new TV series is just an enormous merchanising cash cow explosion, and the items aren't cheap.
There's also a TV in the wall above that section showing the original early 90's episodes, or at least the intro, and you'd better believe that everyone from second-grade girls to women in their 40's stop and look up at it with religious reverence, recalling from years past how the catchy theme song emboldened them to live out their dreams and always stand up for what's right and good. 
(-wipes tear from eye-)

The Disney sections only just barely stop short of being totally stupefying. NiQui was nice enough to give me the coins I needed to get an adorable Stitch phone charm from a vending machine by the bathroom, because I figured that was one of the most affordable options.



In the Powerpuff Girls section we stopped to watch the episode you can see playing, where the evil mime (that's redundant, isn't it?) takes all the colour out of the world and the girls turn into a rock band and sing that adorable song about love making the world go 'round.

Miffy pouches that are made to look like realistic cookies. Star Wars Lego sets. Grown British women running up and down the stairs: "Can we play with it when we get back?" "That's why I bought it!" (insert near-hysterical childlike laughter). It's a magical, magical place.

Look at these things. I literally knelt on the floor and stared at them for like 5 minutes.
Hannes and I saw some things like this in a museum in Berlin, intricate paper dioramas that create a vivid three-dimensional scene when you look at them head-om. I wish I couldn't gotten the Kiki and Totoro ones better. They're also like 20 bucks, and I still want them.



Aside from the Stitch charm, I managed to make it out of the store with nothing but two adorable postcards to add to my collection:


We walked to the neighbouring Omotesando, a swanky and expensive shopping area with all the big designer brands you normally find in places that attract those adjectives, and went to Flying Tiger Copenhagen. That place is great; I've seen a few of their totes around but wasn't sure what they sold. It's like if a brand like French Bull had babies with Ikea. Got myself a little orange plastic goldfish pencil sharpener for less than a dollar. Good times.


There's also a See's Candies in Omotesando, and because everything is freshly imported, it's also freshly 165% more expensive. I asked how much the individual truffles would be, and we each got one even though they were almost $4.


We ate them outside a convenience store along with cheap, refreshing alcoholic drinks and talked about the Japanese economy. It was great.


Other stops included a Thai restaurant and a novelty condom shop. It's too bad there aren't any pictures of me, because I like the outfit I was wearing. Maybe next time.
Thanks for showing me a good time, guys!

While we were out I grabbed the latest issue of Metropolis, and look, they did an article about Lactose Intoler-art! Good for him!




On Sunday Hannes and I awoke to the now-all-too-familiar hell of knowing that we had to go back to Ikea to finish furnishing our apartment. We needed a few side tables, curtains (just using the typhoon shutter has been pretty annoying), some kind of bathroom shelving unit, and so on. Le sigh.


I've collected photos of quite a few of these now.


Kind of post-apocalyptic, right?


And finally, here's what I can only hope was our last post-shopping Swedish flat-packed furniture feast ever, because god damn. Neither of us ever wants to go back again. 
But at least we got out and did things!