Thursday, September 23, 2010

Takeshita Street: Where cool, hip, punk and everything unique blend in

TAKESHITA Street in Jarajuku, Tokyo is a hub for the city’s younger population.
There you can find McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, The Body Shop and a wide assortment of small fashion boutiques, cafés, restaurants and what-have-you.
Takeshita Street throbs with so much color and life and activity that there is barely enough room to move around.
From 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., Takashita Street is just like any other ordinary, narrow road. But after 8 a.m., the street starts to come to life. By 11 a.m., its jam-packed.
If you hate crowds and would rather not want to rub sweaty elbows with students and tourists from all parts of the world, this is not the place for you. But then, you will miss seeing the most extraordinary blend of hip-hop or punk fashion, vintage or the latest clothing trends, weird but nice- looking footwear especially those from a store named “Out of the World,” inexpensive trinkets, fancy jewelry and accessories, food, beverages and more.
Takeshita Street is home to the most unique sights especially on weekends. Individuals wearing red, green, pink or multi-colored hair and fancy costumes are a common sight.
Although the street is short, one day is barely enough to go around and browse the shops squeezed in. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring even the narrowest doors on the sides, and don’t fail to follow steep stairs that will lead you to the basements of the stores. You don’t want to miss a lot.
I spent two mornings on Takeshita Street during my week-long stay in Tokyo last month since it was just a block away from the house of Kinpachi Restaurant owner Misako-san’s where I stayed. Time was never enough. Except for buying some necessities such as a 700 yen wristwatch and some trinkets for friends, I spent more time taking photos than browsing in the shops.
I delighted in spending 400 yen on a glass of Hawaiian blue-flavored shaved ice and dug into it with gusto. I also went to a pizza joint located in the basement of a three-story store and paid 530 yen plus 10 percent tax for a pizza meal.
I would have loved to explore further but changed my mind when I saw the cellphone Misako-san gave me to use in case I get lost. It was all in Japanese, and I couldn’t understand a single letter.
One notable thing about Takeshita Street is that despite the narrow space and hordes of people flocking the road, there is not a single piece of trash or even a cigarette butt on the sidewalks or anywhere.
Planning a trip to Tokyo? Don’t miss Takeshita Street. It is located directly across from the exit of JR Harajuku Station.