Posted by: uvahowes | October 12, 2009

Shrine

Shrine near Harajuku

Entrance to a shrine near Shibuya.

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Posted by: uvahowes | October 12, 2009

Sunday in Harajuku

Hopped off the train at Harajuku on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. I figured it’d be crowded.

not too crowded

Really crowded.

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Stopped along the street to oggle at a few strangely dressed locals that were putting on a show for the crowd. These people don’t do this for tips or change, they just seem to genuinely like being a spectacle.

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Costumes optional. Truth be told I don’t think these people were all together with it.

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Good to see fashion still alive and well. There were girls dressed like this literally everywhere. This is one of those areas of Tokyo where kids can come and wear whatever they want. You can tell the girls, and even some of the boys, spend a ton of time making sure their outfits look just right. Lining the streets are shops that sell gear like this. I tried to go in one but apparently it was for girls only so my friends had to let me know what it was like, haha.

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Outside of the back streets Harajuku has some of the more famous foreign stores. Seen here is the popular H&M building. Most of the people on the street there are waiting to get in, some are just passing by. There is a huge Ralph Lauren store with massive columns that I want to go into one of these days. Probably out of my price range, but it would be interesting to see nonetheless. Fashion in general seems much more European than American here, but Polo still enjoys a decent market share.

doing good business

Best store mascot ever.

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Posted by: uvahowes | October 5, 2009

Some stolen photos of a fertility ceremony!

One of the few legitimately interesting things that I’ve done since I got here was witness a fertility ceremony in nearby Ueno Park. The general idea, as far as I can tell, is that by burning dolls you can increase your fertility. A little strange, but the ceremony is run by local monks who are captivating in their intensity.

The ceremony begins near a religious-looking statute. The monks toss colored scraps of paper into the air while chanting along with what I can only guess was a head monk who had a microphone. After about 5 minutes of recitations the monks move to a large roped off area located near the original building. I don’t think there’s any reason for this other than the gigantic fire hazard that was about to be had.

Some preliminary dolls are torched, and then each participant comes up to a series of incense burners and submits their doll to an assistant who chucks it into the blaze. The fire was huge, and smelled like burning plastic.

All kinds of people participated, both women and men. After everyone with a doll was finished a group of little school children lined up to pray infront of a mini brazier. Little early to be thinking about fertility, haha.

A group of us went shortly after the preliminary language exam, which is why I was without camera. The same classmate took pictures of the baseball game I went to on Friday so I will have to borrow some of those pics for a later post!

Posted by: uvahowes | September 30, 2009

The hobo special

Tough choice

Tough choice

A haiku in honor of “Strong Seven”

A very long day
What is the strongest thing here?
Kirin Strong Seven

Posted by: uvahowes | September 26, 2009

My new ride

Finally picked up the bike that I ordered about a week ago, and after crashing right infront of the repair shop where I purchased it I was off and flying down the streets of Tokyo.

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It only has one gear, but I was able to climb all the hills around my apartment without issue. Thankfully it has hand brakes and an American-style kick stand. Definitely worth the 20k Yen I paid for it!

Now I just need to gain some confidence riding on the sidewalk… for some reason Japanese people on bikes don’t ride along with traffic, so you have to learn to dodge pedestrians.

Posted by: uvahowes | September 23, 2009

Fast food!

There aren’t any McDonalds or KFCs near me in Yotsuya, but there is a bento place called Hotto Motto that serves a healthy spread of popular Asian lunches… deep fried.

Because it’s the only thing I know how to pronounce I end up getting the Bi Bim Bap every time! It is actually identical to the dish I’m used to from Lotte in Northern Virginia. It’s also maybe the only thing on the menu that isn’t deep fried, haha. Tasty!

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Posted by: uvahowes | September 21, 2009

Local billboards

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Tommy Lee Jones battles the Fire man for coffee supremacy at a street corner in Yotsuya district. In television commercials TLJ plays an alien named Jones who is investigating Japanese culture. The first of 20 or so commercials can be found below!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39MILG4txBk&feature=related

Posted by: uvahowes | September 20, 2009

Kirin Autumn Limited Brew

Most Japanese beers are sold by the can, which makes sampling a number of different beverages easy and cost effective. While watching Japanese music videos I decided to start tracking some of the different offerings.

Here we have a seasonal beer from Kirin called Rich Taste of Autumn.

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Gorgeous can if nothing else. To be honest though, it tastes pretty much like regular Kirin! Maybe a little bit smoother, but it isn’t like a distinctive Sam Adams seasonal beer. Very drinkable in any case, and somewhere between a Budweiser and a Bud Light in terms of strength.

The weather here has been pretty overcast, which hasn’t made for great photography. I’m still in the nervous stage of travelling, which is why so many of my posts are just pictures of things in my apartment haha. Mission for tomorrow: take a picture of the ridiculous billboards surrounding my apartment.

Posted by: uvahowes | September 19, 2009

Japanese street food pt. 1

Picked up some taiyaki this afternoon coming back from lunch. It is a pastry, generally shaped like a fish, filled with some sort of sweet paste. In my case I opted for red bean paste filling, probably the most common. For some reason this is a snack that you see pretty often in anime, so I was excited to try it out.

Almost too adorable to eat

Almost too adorable to eat

Pretty good, it’s served hot so the pastry is delicious if not a bit doughy. Japanese candies and snacks are generally less sweet than their American counterparts, so don’t expect a mouth full of sugar if you pick one up.

In other news the University screwed up my language class registration, big shocker there. For the most part my experience with Waseda has been an ongoing debacle. I have one chance left to go take a placement exam on the 25th, a test I was told on two occasions I could skip. From what I’ve been told by fellow law schoolers the test is incredibly brutal, even for those with basic language skills. Oh well, my exam will be easy to grade if nothing else, I fully expect to get a zero.

Posted by: uvahowes | September 17, 2009

Local Izakaya

Shot from the Izakaya closest to my apartment. Gotta love the advertising.

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