Friday, September 24, 2010

Takeshita street

As early as 10 a.m., crowds, especially the younger generation start to flock to Takeshita Street to see visit the long line of stores. The crowd gets thicker throughout the day and until 9 p.m. when most of the stores close.
TAKESHITA Street, or Takeshita-dori 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, caf├ęs, restaurants and what-have-you.
The Takeshita Street is a pedestrian-only fashion street which starts from JR Harajuku Station’s Takeshita exit to Meiji Street (approximately 150 meters).
The stores on this street are mainly flashy fashion boutiques for young people including a variety of lineup from accessories, miscellaneous articles, character goods, and fast food and they are always crowded with mostly junior high and high school students. There also are many small-sized pioneer stores closely following the latest trends which indeed reflect Tokyo’s trend itself that changes rapidly. There also are many stores selling crepes with people standing in a long line in front of every one of them. Takeshita Street indeed lures a large number of people on weekends and holidays.
The first time I passed by the place was past midnight during my first night in Tokyo. Misako-san’s house is a few blocks up. Takeshita street looked like any regular side street with lots of colorful graffiti on the walls, so narrow that I was worried if the taxi we were riding could fit in the road. Miraculously, it did and we arrived at Misako-san’s condo unit.
The next day around 9 a.m. I got the chance to walk on the street on our way out to pick up the kids from their apartment in Koenji.  A few of the stores were preparing to open and the street started to spring to life. No cars were allowed in the street during the day.
Takeshita Street throbs with so much color and life and activity that there is barely enough room to move around.
By 11 a.m., I head the street gets really jam-packed, and you have to literally rub or jab shoulders with strangers to pass or get around. I got the chance to explore the street on my third day when I Misako-san told me we were free for the morning. Eagerly, I browsed the shops, getting in my fill of the sounds, sights, colors and smells of everything.
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 ventured inside one of these corner stores displaying a wide selection of new and used knick-knacks– wigs, boots, shoes, bags, clothes, costumes and hordes of other items. Flipping through the jeans, a light blue maong jeans  with tattered knees and legs caught my attention, and even before I looked at the price, I knew i was never going to leave the store without it.
Going inside the fitting room, the jeans fitted me perfectly, as though waiting for my arrival. I blinked at the price tag–uhuhhh Y1,990 yen. Doing a mental calculation, the jeans costs about  $24 and I closed my eyes when the cashier rang up my purchase.
Squeezed among the stores and fast food chains and all the commercial hullabaloo going around, there’s this one house that breaks the tone, its tranquil facade presenting a total contrast to the hubbub of activities going on around it. The house should belong to a peaceful village somewhere with rivers and peaceful lagoons or fountains around it.
Everyday is shopping day at Takeshita Street, or so I learned during the week I was there. I grabbed every spare time I had to explore the street, taking photos of everything and anything, trying foods I’ve never tried before, and yet I never got my fill of everything. There is just so much to see and do but I was able to grab some items for pasalubong for friends in Saipan–a couple of shawls for an office mate, a watch for my roommate, rugs for my room, bracelets and other knickknacks for friends.


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. The street is notably clean.


Brightly colored shoes are among the most saleable merchandise at Takeshita Street.
Your Takeshita Street experience will never be complete if you will not try one of these world-famous, must-try ice cream crepes. Crepe stalls are everywhere and you can try the various fillings from Y350 to Y500 and even up to Y1,000 if you go for a combination of fillings and toppings. I tried the creme with fruits and nata de coco
Planning a trip to Tokyo? Don’t miss visiting Takeshita Street. It is located directly across from the Takashita exit of JR Line Harajuku Station.