Sunday in Harajuku & Cocktails at the Park Hyatt

by mjcarney

Little known fact (or maybe it is known?), I love Gwen Stefani. I was in highschool when L.A.M.B. came out and with it came “Harajuku Girls” and the little Japanese girls that performed with her throughout her whole tour. It planted the first seed of my desire to visit Japan. I wanted to learn more about the fashion culture that Gwen Stefani loved enough to dedicate an entire song to. Then the internet happened and made Japanese street style photos just ever so slightly more accessible. So to say that I was highly looking forward to my visit to Harajuku is a vast understatement. I thought about it from the minute we landed.

We’d planned to go on Sunday, since that’s the day all the young people head to Harajuku to meet up with friends and shop. Omotesando is the luxury shopping boulevard located in Harajuku. There are tons of little side streets and alleys with shops and hidden cafes. Omotasando (and Japan in general) is great for window shopping, but not so great for actual shopping. The markup (on most things) is unreal. One item I had my eyes on had a staggering 30% markup!

SONY DSC Lots of women still wear kimono, but it’s still always fun to see them out on the street. Oops, I mean Dori. SONY DSC Each building is unique, but Prada is definitely the site to see. The glass bubbles reflect light to give the most mesmerizing effect. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Ladies who lunch. SONY DSC I loved the Comme des Garcons shop. The gigantic, gold Cupid babies were adorable. SONY DSC There was a line outside of this flower shop, so I had to poke my head in to see what all the ruckus was about.   SONY DSC The flower shop was gorgeous, but everyone was lining up for the teahouse hidden in the back. We already had lunch plans, but this place was nearly cute enough to derail them. Nearly. SONY DSC SONY DSC Basically having the best day ever SONY DSC And if you are feeling tired from all the shopping? The Nespresso boutique!! They made me a latte just like the ones I make myself at home.  SONY DSC In Japan, you’ll see many umbrellas shielding light skin from the harsh sun.  SONY DSC SONY DSCOmotesando Hills mall houses lots of cool shops–everything from designer accessories to Japanese-made housewares.SONY DSC SONY DSCI love the layout of the inside. It’s symmetrical and futuristic.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Another day, another cute Chihuahua. SONY DSC Tokyu Plaza. The entrance is made up of shards of mirrors that reflect light from all angles. It’s a delight to the eyes.
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SONY DSC Kiddyland!! Home of all things Kawaii. It’s a four story toy shop, bursting at the seams with toys. There was a WHOLE FLOOR dedicated to Miss Hello Kitty. I loved these cool Legos. SONY DSC SONY DSC And this cute little guy. SONY DSC SONY DSCSo those lunch plans I mentioned above? That’s where Harajuku Gyoza Lou comes in. (Another good shoutout to Nikki and Steve!!) We waited in line for about half an hour and it was worth every second. SONY DSC SONY DSC We had more icy, cold draft beer, rice with broth, bean sprouts and meat sauce (which was oddly delicious), and Gyoza! Steamed and pan fried Gyoza. This was one of my favorite meals in Japan. I could eat Gyoza like three times a week and never tire of it!  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Next, we made our way to the famous Lafloret. Lafloret is like half museum, half boutique mall. It’s one of the best people watching spots, and full of trendy Japanese. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC As proof from the guy below, lots of young people in Japan love t-shirts with American sayings. Some of these sayings are cute, and some are just generic, cliche terms. The best one I saw was “Simplicity Simple”.  SONY DSC Love these shoes! I’m 75% sure Kanye got his image from this boutique. SONY DSC SONY DSCWe got a total kick out the this Alcoholic-Bitch tote. SONY DSC SONY DSC Takeshita Dori! This is the over crowded Tokyo you’ve been waiting for. The tiny street was a sea of people, clearly the place to see and be seen. It’s full of inexpensive shops and cafes. And did I mention the prime people watching? That too. SONY DSC And fish ? SONY DSC SONY DSC Angels Heart is a bit of an institution. They sell every imaginable sweet crepe you can think of, and girls line up for blocks to get their hands on them. SONY DSC Don’t forget–no eating and walking at the same time though.  SONY DSC Since it was an extra sunny day, I went for ice cream. Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl to be exact!

Afterwards, we wandered through Yoyogi Park for a few hours (which I’ll get to in another post) and then had cocktails at the very famous Park Hyatt. It was the setting for Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, in which a lonely Scarlett Johansson strikes up a friendship with a famous, and equally lonely, Bill Murray. The movie is utterly enchanting, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend. (It’s also another pop culture contribution that flamed my fire to visit Japan.) So anyway, we knew we wanted to have drinks at the New York Bar on the 54th Floor of the Park Hyatt. Being slightly afraid of heights, I can say with certainty, it felt like the 154th floor. You have to take two seperate elevators to get to it, and as soon as the doors open, you are faced with a wall of glass overlooking the entire city, and you feel like you are about to step off the side of the earth. A couple of rather strong cocktails later, I was practically putting my face up to the window in awe of the most incredible view as the sun set and Tokyo lit up.
SONY DSC SONY DSC That’s where we’re headed… alllll the way up top! SONY DSC SONY DSC We started with a round of French 75s.  SONY DSC SONY DSC And then moved on to more vibrant concoctions.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC