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Published: October 4th 2006
For my Japanese Society class we went to Yasukuni Shrine, Meiji Shrine and Harajuku yesterday. The reason we went is because we've been studying Japanese religion and how it plays a role in the lives of Japanese people. Yasukuni and Meiji are two really different shrines.
As some people know, Yasukuni is a point of contention here in Japan due to the politics surrounding it. It was founded in 1868, roughly, as a shrine to honor the soldiers who fell during the Meiji Restoration. It now serves as a place of internment for the souls of other soldiers as well, from World Wars I and II. Among the approximately 2.5 million souls there are 14 Class A war criminals, including General Tojo. The shrine also has a museum that is operated by the shrine and not affiliated with the government. Former Prime Minister Koizumi went to Yasukuni every year and prayed, ostensibly for the fallen soldiers in general, but it caused a great deal of international tension because of the perceived condoning of WWII. Now, having been there, I'm of two minds.
Yasukuni really isn't about WWII, or any one person. And being there, seeing the letters in the
museum from kamikaze soldiers who were 15 when deployed, makes that obvious. Aside from the WWII memorabilia there are artifacts from the Meiji Restoration, including the war banner of Saigo Takamori, the man who "The Last Samurai" was (terribly!) based on. The outside of the shrine is beautiful.
The Meiji Shrine is a shrine to the Meiji Emperor, and is really mostly forest with torii. It was closed when we got there, so all we could do was stand by the gate and look, so I didn't get pictures. I can't really talk about the Meiji Shrine because I didn't get to get the feeling of it.
Afterwards we went to Harajuku to see the contrast. Lisa and I went off afterwards and I was on a quest to finally find h.naoto stores. I eventually found their little corner where 3 are, so I was happy to check them out. Little tiny stores really. In Harajuku there are actually like 5 h.naoto stores, but I went to only 3. One in the basement of Laforet, which kind of became a paradise for clothing like that, and two actual stores. My personal favorite was the H store. It's fairly
small but it's quite nice on the inside. The dressing rooms have 2 velvet curtains that close opposite ways and it's all nifty to use. They don't really bother with sizes much in that store though. There's about one of everything in each color and that's it. When I went there with Lisa, there was a guy who greeted us and let me say for the record, a guy dressed in all h.naoto is one hot guy no matter what. We kind of lost our minds while we were in there though - that store is not conducive to mental health. After we looked at literally every single item, I had to decide what I wanted to buy. I'm going back for my birthday, but this was me finally getting something. I really liked the pants but I simply didn't have the money, either on me or in my bank account at the moment (H takes credit cards!!) so it was a no-go. I eventually decided on a red shirt with black stripes, gold lettering and spider web, a zipper in front, long sleeves and straps all over the place. The guy comes back and instead of trying Japanese, tries
to speak to us in English, which we thought was pretty cute. I pay, he packages it in a clear plastic bag with flyers and all the cards you could ever want, then he whips out a black cotton bag and puts my shirt in it! I was quite delighted to get a bonus tote bag with roses and an H on it for absolutely free, even if it's not the best quality. He doesn't give me the bag though, oh no. He gestures for us to leave, and follows us to the front door, where he gives me my bag and does the "thank you for shopping here" spiel. My new mission: get something with Hangry and Angry.
And that was my Tuesday.
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