Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ginza and Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Anyone familiar with Tokyo will find that title amusing - as Ginza and Harajuku are both shopping districts, but they are as far apart culturally as they are geographically (on opposite sides of Tokyo.)

Nonetheless, I happened by both on this day. Hey - I had an unlimited 1-day rail pass so why not?

Ginza is the Fifth Avenue of Tokyo, with such high-end shoping as Hermes, and Dolce & Gabbana, etc. The Sony HQ building is there, with a showroom I had to see. (It had a 100" flat-panel television!!) I went into D&G, and they treated me like royalty - offering me a seat and rushing to/from racks to pick out clothes for me to look at! And they didn't even seem offended when I didn't buy anything, offering me the same enthusiastic smiles and bows as when I came in.

I also ran across a Japanese local with a very nice Canon DSLR camera and huge image-stabilizing (IS) telephoto lens practicing his Paparazzi technique. He was literally perched at the end of a block around a corner, and would poke around the corner and shoot photographs of customers exiting the stores on that block. I watched and even checked out some of the photos on his camera (he was happy to oblige when he saw me carrying a similar camera myself.) At first I thought he was perched for a particular sighting, but it became clear after a while that he was merely practicing. Poised for the next Paris Hilton visit, I suppose.

On the other side of Tokyo, Harajuku is the "teen fashion" shopping district. The main shopping street is lined with well known western and international stores like The Gap. The side streets and alleys, however, are lined with locally own shops trying to make a name for themselves, each with its own brand of designs for hip Japanese teens.

I had fun wandering these alleys and checking out some of the more amusing stores, many which centered around various aspects of western culture - jeans jackets, leather clothing, hoodies, &etc were all featured. There were also some motorcycle wear shops, tattoo parlors, and numerous skate shops in these alleys.

It was getting towards sunset, so I didn't take many pictures. I would really like to return here on a weekend sometime to see the locals who hang out, as I hear they are a sight.

Flickr sets:
Ginza: https://www.flickr.com/photos/phreakmonkey/sets/72157652749671963
Harajuku: https://www.flickr.com/photos/phreakmonkey/sets/72157655080329155

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