Amit’s townhouse is on the edge of one of the edgiest districts in Tokyo. It’s bustling with narrow pedestrian lanes, full of small clothing shops and crepe stands. On weekends it’s a solid mass of humanity and we were lucky to have this awe-inspiring neighbourhood at our doorstep.
The iconic thoroughfare called Takeshita Dori (pronounced as ‘Tack-a-sheet-ah’, not ‘Take-a-Shit-ah’) is noisy, lurid and rammed with freaky dressers out to strut their stuff. Some will happily pose for photos while others move through the crowds looking cold and distant. We often chose this route to the JR station on weekdays when it was less crowded, just to spice things up.
Each Sunday the bridge next to the Harajuku station attracts a collection of garishly dressed ‘cosplay’ (costume play) aficionados. The costumes range from cool, to inventive, to bizarre. The Sunday we visited was cold and rainy and there were fewer costumes on display, but we did manage to photograph a few die-hards. The pink ‘Little Bo Peep’ was my favorite.
The bridge stands at the entrance to the Meiji Shrine with a thirty-six foot high tori (gate), the largest in Japan. It was built from 1,600-year-old cypress trees imported from Taiwan. The Shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji whose reign (1868-1912) coincided with Japan’s modernization. I read that crowds of a million-plus visit the shrine at New Year’s. The main building dates to 1958; the original was destroyed during World War II. I can’t quite believe that we never made it to the Meiji Shrine during our two weeks in Tokyo. We seemed to go farther afield to sightsee and missed seeing one of the most popular shrines in Tokyo. I guess we have another reason to come back again.