☆ anime/manga,  ☆ i heart japan,  ☆ i heart travel,  ☆ life

First up: Harajuku and Omotesando! ^-^

I got lost on the way from customs to the train station, and it was kind of embarrassing. I walked right past the escalator down into the train station (it’s inside of the airport outside of the International Arrival exit gates). Oops! We only had to backtrack a little bit, and it has been three years, and let’s face it, I’ve only ever been to Narita Airport a few times, as I rarely left Japan when I was there, so I can be forgiven for this one.

So, once we found the underground station and I got new Suica cards (I think I turned all of mine in when I left and got the 500 yen deposits back, but I can’t remember and I couldn’t find them), we got on the “boring” regular train back to the city. It takes a little bit longer, but it’s half the price of the Narita Express and way more convenient than the Skyliner unless you’re going to freaking Nippori (aka a very out of the way place on the north side of the Yamanote line). Huh, side note for the future: It looks like you can get seriously discounted tickets if you buy round-trip tickets at the JR East office in the airport. I’ll have to look into this if I want to make things quicker next time.

Well anyway, the regular train was just more Japan… you know? I was trying to save money, and also curious as to how I would feel, just being back in Japan. The train felt exactly the way that Japan used to feel for me, and looked the same way that I remembered. It kind of felt like I’d been away for a weekend, not three years. Like, hey Japan, here I am returning from a trip to the US. Did you miss me?

Except for one thing which is hard to put into writing… It was my first taste of the Japan that I’d left behind, the one that used to feel like home. But it didn’t feel like home anymore. Japan looked exactly the same (only with different celebrities on the train advertisements), so was I the one who had changed?

We got colder as we got to Asakusabashi (where my friend lived that we were staying with for two nights), and outside the station it was REALLY windy and cruelly freezing. Adrian doesn’t live that far from the station, though, so I tried really hard to make it there in just my sweatshirt and without dying. We made it, though I’ve had a cough ever since (possibly unrelated?).

It was nice to get inside, and his place had barely changed either. I redecorate every few months, so I can’t live like that, but it was also sort of comforting. We caught up with Adrian  (well, I did, since Thuy had never met him). Oh maaaaaaan do I miss Adrian!! We should have taken Purikura together, darn it.

My friends Jill and Willeke wanted to meet up that night to do Yuri On Ice theme karaoke in Ikebukuro, so I dragged Thuy (who just wanted to eat) out and we had a blast! I met Samantha for the first time, too. She was really sweet– nice to meet you! I think she’s a Tenipuri fan, too?

I was so cold and tired that I didn’t even bring my camera, so that shot was the best that I had, haha. Over the vacation I switched back and forth between feeling really gung-ho about pictures and being so cold or tired (or already having so many things in my hands) that I didn’t want to bother. I also got a lot better after the first few days as I figured out how to work my new camera (Nikon D5500 with the kit lens. I’ll definitely get better lenses when I can afford them!)

Day two dawned and we went to Harajuku to meet Adele and Lindsey! My friends are the same and yet so different! I guess that’s true for all of us?

I loved seeing them more than I loved being in Japan! It was soooooooooooo nice! And there was a special addition to Lindsay’s life…

So many of my friends are having babies now! Pretty soon, I’ll be in the minority with my sixteen cats and no kids, which is okay with me. Lindsay seemed really happy to be making a family, though. ^^

We walked around Harajuku and shopped and talked, and I tried to take some pictures without being used to this camera at all. I was really happily surprised to see cats everywhere, though!

Creepy ones…

Cute heta-uma (badly-drawn but somehow good) ones.

And cuter Grumpy-cat wannabees.

Were cats on clothing and accessories such a thing before? I don’t remember it being like that, but the US has had a boom the last few years too, so maybe it’s happening in both places? NO COMPLAINTS! Except that I didn’t have nearly enough money to indulge in all of the things that I wanted. Next time I’ll be bringing an entire suitcase home full of just cat stuff! Including doujinshi, maybe!!

I guess Vivienne Westwood has a store underneath the Jonathan’s now.

Looks like Condomania is alive and well across the street. That chain (yeah, you can guess their specialty) will never go out of business.

I really wanted to go to to KiddyLand, which USED TO BE a store full of cute goods. I though it’d be stocked to the ceiling with cute kitty accessories (considering everywhere else in Harajuku), but it sure had changed. It was all Star Wars and childrens’ anime goods now. They did have those ugly Harry Potter official chibi merchandise, but that was about it. I wish that there were really cute Harry Potter puchi-nendroids! It would make up for the bleh design of the Funko Pop figures (which I still bought three of anyway. There’s NOTHING ELSE! Wwah).

I did like the Stormtrooper darumas above, but they were ridiculously expensive. The little moving R2D2s and BBs were cute too, but I felt like I could find something just as cute in the states.

Next we tried to find LaForet so that I could look at all of the cute loli shops, but found some boring shopping mall instead. It was pretty, but all stuff that nobody was really interested in looking at.

Still not LaForet, but funny anyways.

She doesn’t look very excited.

And she looks nervous…

We were excited for other reasons! Or just trying to stay warm.

Ohhhhhhh, since when was LaForet that close to Takeshita doori? We’d walked right by it.

For whatever reason, loli shops generally don’t allow photos, so I put away my camera. I don’t get it, though. I WANT TO SPREAD THE AMAZING FASHION AROUND THE WORLD! Wal-mart doesn’t care, but shops with actual good clothing designs are so protective. WHY.

La Foret’s bottom three floors are home to so much loli. And so many very, very expensive clothes.

This is one of the several branches of Ozz Oneste. They LOVE their pirates and have a sort of steampunk-y vibe. I LOVE THIS STORE. My favorite 2 belts (which I still have) are both from this store, from waaaaaaaayyyyy back and cost way too much money for a belt. Nobody said anything here about photos, but I just took the one and didn’t do any details. It felt weird when other shops workers were literally running out of their stores to fling themselves in front of dresses just for holding a camera. Yes, this happened to me, more than once, and I didn’t even have my camera on. It’s just a pain to put it away when you can’t move because you have 16 layers on.

I didn’t notice the “no touching” signs because my vision went immediately to the kitty purse. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT?! I should have gotten it. The shop girl chided me rightly for touching it, but she said I could take a picture. I WANT IT SO BADLY. <3 I didn’t get it at the time because I thought that I could make one myself for cheaper, but rawr. I should have just bought it.

So, that was my first adventure with a camera! It was getting late, so me and Thuy went back to Takeshita doori to find cheaper things to buy and I put away my camera. But don’t worry, it gets better from here, and much more intersting!! ^o^

(298 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.

3 Comments

  • Darla

    Typically why lolita brands don’t allow photos (or even gyaru brands like Liz Lisa, ma*rs, ect.) is because pictures with detail make it easier for other countries (mainly China) to create replicas and sell them for the same price as the originals (and with not as good of quality). So I’m sure that’s why it’s not allowed. OTL

    It looks like you had so much fun on your trip after being away for so long!

  • zoomingjapan

    I’m still lacking the 16 cats, but I’m pretty much in the same situation. Everyone around me is having kids these days. XD …

    And yes, I have the feeling that they’ve increased cat items everywhere … it makes me SO happy! My cat family at home increases with every Japan visit! ;P

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