On the whole, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Tokyo- too many people and not enough room to breath, for me. Having said that, there are some areas which I really love, one of them being Harajuku. A bit like my hometown London, there’s really only some small parts of Tokyo that are of much interest to tourists, but many others for the people who actually live there and can sense the special atmosphere in areas that make them good places to ‘hang out in’, if nothaving quite so much to see.
With Harajuku, there’s just so much variety- the cosplayers, Takeshita street with all it’s little shops, Yoyogi park and the Elvis impersonators, the ancient shrine in the glades of trees and the trendy restaurants and shops of Omotosando. One thing that really draws the likes of me there is the photo opportunities offered by the zany youth fashions. There are some very beautiful girls here, dressing just the way they like to, offering a style quite different to what you can usually see. The different styles never seem to end (a lot of them are based upon animation characters, which is a similarly endless selection) and everyone is just having so much fun!
When I check to see how many hits and comments my photos are getting, especially on Flickr, the most are definitely going to my Harajuku photos, beaten only by ones of Mt Fuji that I’ve uploaded long before. There’s something very Japanese for me and other Westerners about this adaptation of punk-like fashions, to turn them into something new and different. Not only that, but the fashio of the ‘gothic lolita’ has started to spread to the West, where many teenage girls are starting to make their own version of it. The best thing here is that it’s somewhere that it’s ‘okay’ to bring a camera and take pictures of people. I’m sure you can do it at many other places, but without a long zoom lens I find it a bit embarassing these days (although temples and festivals are also excellent spots), while this is a place where it really is acceptable and people are happy to pose.
I don’t go there too often- I think I might get tired of it if I did- but whenever I do I am struck by the creativeness of these kids, finding their own ‘look’ and drawing pictures and busking or whatever. Personally, I think it’s great that they feel that they can experiment in this way, making their own thing without the direction of the adult world. You’re only young once… but if you hold onto your youth, it need never end! It certainly feels that way in Harajuku.
You can see the full photo gallery here.
Posted by Starfires on November 28, 2006