Sofia Coppola’s film title is fitting to describe our experience in Japan — exciting, surrealistic, busy and foreign adventures in a new country. Here is the famous intersection from the movie, blurred with the hundreds of Tokyo residents, pushing through each other to their final destinations.
Our last two days in Japan, after traveling home from Fuji Rock, were a blur of tourist destinations, sushi, and exhaustion. After returning to Mary’s on Monday, Evan and I showered the mud and grime from the festival off and caught a train to Harajuku, the fashion district.
Seeing the famed fashionistas roaming the alleys of Harajuku was even more incredible than I imagined it would be. These Harajuku girls were so undeniably cool, disinterested in the intrigue they inspired, knowing they were rewriting the pages of Vogue but just didn’t care. I stood and stared silently as the street buzzed around me, passing by in a blur of colors and glitter. As a person who is stylish on a good day, I was in over my head, ogling the girls tottering in their four-inch heels, batting their fake eyelashes, and wearing bizarre costumes that you — and they — knew would look completely ridiculous on anyone else.
We picked up some awesome shirts from vendors in the bustling, noisy street.
Our stomachs angrily growled at us, so we grabbed a bite at an original Yoshinoya — which was excellent. A beef bowl with rice for less than $5, topped with fresh pickled ginger.
Oh, and Japan has Dr. Pepper. I DIE. It’s nowhere to be found in Korea!
We also took a trip to the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto monument dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, who was famous for enhancing relationships with western countries, and embracing aspects of a more modernized culture. The shrine itself is nestled inside a large iris garden in Tokyo.
Outside of the shrine, tourists were able to buy ema, votive tablets for special prayers and gratitude you want to send the Shinto dieties. The tablets were conveyed to the gods by priests every morning at the Mikesai. The wall was full of wishes, messages of thanks, and people’s deepest secrets.
That night, we dined with Mary and her family, slurping down spaghetti and playing Balderdash until we couldn’t keep our exhausted eyes open (our hostess slaughtered us all at the board game).
After a good night’s sleep, we packed up and headed out to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. The temple, the oldest and most famous in Tokyo, is astoundingly large and awe-inspiring. We, along with the hordes of other westerners, snapped pictures wafting in the incense, and paying our respect.
Around the temple, rows of kiosks and little shops lined alleyways, bursting with souvenirs and inviting smells of Japanese cuisine.
We had yen to kill, so we enjoyed a decadent lunch of sushi, tempura, beer and sake. Best. Fish. Ever. Seriously, I’ve never had anything that melted in my mouth quite like rich, buttery, delectable sea creatures. Mmmmm.
We picked up a few last minute souvenirs (a Buddhist bracelet, a kimono) before heading to the train station, oblivious to the night’s crazy events that were ahead of us.
In the end, I felt so blessed to have gotten two authentic Japanese vacations — one full of sightseeing, learning, souvenirs, and shopping, and another bonding with the locals and other expats in the outrageously gorgeous scenery of Mount Takenoko.
It was hard to leave, but when we returned I was grateful to be home, ready to get back into our routine — and catch up on some desperately needed zzz.