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Published: November 8th 2006
I am in Japan!!! A long way from Adelaide, Australia, but here I am in Shizuoka for a year teaching at an English Kindergarten while seeing and experiencing as much of this crazy, mixed up, amazing country as I can!
Tokyo- big, bustling and busy, but really not my cup of tea (me being the sheltered, quiet country girl that I am), it does however have one redeeming feature. Ok, so there is Disneyland, but its not actually in Tokyo and so therefore does not count. No, the one thing I LOVE about Tokyo is the Harajuku and Yoyogi Park area. When Mum and Dad and Gran were here we went to Harajuku to check out the crazies (Ive been here a few times- its great!!) and then we strolled around the corner and stumbled on a literal haven for artistic expression- Yoyogi Park. I have been to the boring part of Yoyogi before- to see the shrine and walk through the forest (a shrine is a shrine is a shrine) but this was a whole new ball game (or should I say Frisbee game, or hackysack game or volleyball game coz you name it, it was there). But let
Groovin on the train
There was artistic expression going on all over the place, this guy was practising his dance moves on the subway!
me start at the beginning and Im gonna try for lots of detail here coz my computer has a killer virus and is a bit temperamental uploading photos (***UPDATE- Slowly adding more photos, stay tuned***), so this will have to do for now (No don’t stop reading).
Alright, it all begins when you walk a little bit up from the train station into the square at the start of the park. This is where the cos-play kids (or Freaks on Streets as I affectionately call them) hang out. I can not really explain this phenomenon, but I did read somewhere that it’s the straight-laced, computer wired kids that get picked on at school that come here to express themselves (hmm, why are they being picked on, for being computer nerds or weirdos??) Anyway, if there gonna dress up, Im gonna look at them.
Huddled in a group next to the wall are the ‘goth’ kids, dressed almost entirely in black- black overalls, black shorts, long black jacket- a splash of colour added in the long stripey socks that lead down to the mega platforms on their tiny feet. A toolshed of metal hangs from their faces, their ears
and who knows where else, while the look is completed with just the right amount of hairspray to hold the black as black hair (maybe with a stripe or two of blue or purple) in perfect position covering one glaring eye.
This provides a stark contrast to the ‘nurses’ in residence on the opposite side of the square. These two have on pink overalls, with a white frilly smock over the top. The smock is embroidered with the ever popular Disney princesses, and peace signs, and of course, love hearts. They are wearing the obligatory stripey socks, and on their faces are masks (like the ones doctors wear when they are operating). These are all the rage here- the ultimate in politeness!, people wear them when they have colds or the sniffles, even the kids at kindy occasionally. Anyway, the nurses face masks have writing on them, more peace signs and of course, more love hearts. When you ask to pose for a picture with these two they shape their fingers into a heart with yours and of course the other hand is doing the peace sign!
Just strutting into the square are two more girls that just
wanna have fun (and it looks like these two know how to have fun). Their outfits are made of that silky oriental material with the dragons embroidered, one in red, one in black. The skirts are short, and the tops leave little to the imagination, cut daringly over the chest in an upside-down V. The better endowed of the two is posing (there is no other word for it) feet apart and hands on hips, and leaning back just far enough to give a hint of boob out the bottom of the top. Ooops she just leant to far and there is more than a hint showing now, a fact which is not lost on the photographers with their zoom lenses who are actually kneeling down underneath her to get a better view.
All of this is being watched by two chipmunks, a man dressed as Little Bo Peep and the most traditional of Harajuku girls- the Amish princess. She is wearing a knee length dress with masses of frills underneath, stockings (you guessed it striped and frilly!) and the platforms. She is carrying a frilly umbrella and wearing a bonnet that matches her dress, with more frills and
lace. The most important thing about this costume is the expression worn on the face- something like a pout and almost like a smile- that says “aren’t I just the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen?”. Hmm, when you see the photos you can judge for yourself.
When you’ve finished gawking and posing for photos here (most are happy to pose- because surely if your dressed like this you want the attention right?) its time to move on to Yoyogi Park (not to be confused with Yogi Bear who we all know is smarter than the average). You can hear it before you see it- a cacophony of voices, instruments, music and to my absolute delight- “Go Greased Lightning”. A group of men dressed in head to toe leather and biker jackets are getting their groove on at the entrance to the park, Golden Oldies blasting from the stereo providing the perfect accompaniment to their leg waggling and hip shaking (it actually looks a lot like the Chicken Dance). They are Japan’s version of Elvis and the T-Birds from Grease, complete with comb in the back pocket to keep the super slick hair in place throughout the vigorous dance moves.
I can see boob!!
See how shes standing!!
They ooze an oily confidence, and there’s nobody who could convince these Dude Ranch Cowboys that they are not cool.
I could’ve spent the afternoon here but thankfully didn’t, as just around the next bend is a wanna-be Mick Jagger, belting out tunes and doing things to his microphone stand that only the best rock stars get away with doing. This guy holds your attention long enough for a couple of photos and the lead singers girlfriend to give you a flyer, but it looks like there is action up ahead and its impossible to stay in one spot for long as you feel like your missing the next spectacle.
A group of Americanised gangster kids are treating their bikes like trampolines, spinning it and themselves around and around. As you begin to wonder how they still have all their skin a very Japanese phenomena walks past- pampered pets. These 5 sausage dogs are proudly parading their new sunglasses, they stop to pose on a bench a little way up and become an immediate attraction, with people arranging themselves for photos with these cool as a cucumber canines. They monopolise the lens action until another ‘puppy’ comes on the scene-
a massive Doberman wearing a red Yankees cap that would eat three of the sassy sausage dogs for breakfast. Fortunately for the quadruplet he has already snacked on a small child today and does not even afford them a glance as he stomps past, dragging his owner behind him.
There is a commotion behind you and you turn to see a middle aged Japanese man with his headphones on, eyes closed in concentration walking briskly thorough the park singing at the top of his voice, the strain of being so good evident on his face. He has disrupted the trio of trumpeters (actually one is a trombone and another a clarinet) who are practicing for their Ray Charles look alike instructor. It’s a wonder these three can hear themselves play over the wild and wacky bands that line the street just to your left, there is leopard skin and yellow feathers, an afro and a rainbow bow tie, and something that resembles music being yelled in Japanese.
You are approaching the place where the park opens up into a big flat oval like area, grassy patches covered in Tokyo families out for an afternoon walk, Tokyo friends finishing off
a picnic or playing Frisbee or soccer, Tokyo Mr Miyagis practicing their karate and tae kwon do, Tokyo tourists enjoying the feast of everything totally Japanesy and many things that aren’t and Tokyo animals making the most of an opportunity to stretch their legs and move. Actually I suppose this is the main purpose Yoyogi serves, it gives everyone a chance to escape the tiny offices and tiny houses and busy streets and stretch, both physically and mentally, in readiness for another week in a world were everything is regimented, planned and oh so squishy.
Well, if you’ve kept reading to the end, so you should have and if you just scrolled to here and skipped the middle go back and read it punks. Ill get photos on as soon as possible, I promise. Love to everyone that deserves it xx.
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