Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ginza + Harajuku

Still reading my new Kinfolk Travel where it says that travel is ideal in stimulating creativity because we're immersed in a variety of unfamiliar all at once.

"You're interacting with people who may not speak your language and might have a different code of dress, form of money, food and a totally different environment --all those things can be very beneficial to the brain."
- Paul Nassbaum, psychologist and professor

Welcome to Tokyo, where everything's so different from what we are accustomed to, you will not leave the city the same person again.

Ginza 銀座 on a Sunday

It was a Sunday when we first stepped in Tokyo. With just a few hours of freshening up in our Airbnb room in Shibuya, we headed out right away to maximize the trip.

For our first agenda, I made sure that we visit Ginza even though it is a bit far and against the way from all our other plans for the day. Japan's most expensive real estate, and Tokyo's upmarket shopping and dining district, Ginza closes down its main street (Chuo Dori) ONLY during the weekends from 12nn to 5pm - and turns into a large pedestrian zone!

They call this the "hokoten" or "pedestrian heaven":

Bucket list level: To seat in the middle of Chuo Dori, Ginza and have your photo taken!

Meron talagang mga nagseset-up ng tambayan, haha! This one is in front of the BIGGEST UNIQLO in the WORLD!

We visited just a few stores before heading back to the subway for our meet-up.

There's my favorite Japanese brand GU (Uniqlo's sister, but with lower prices). 

Entered the Hakuhinkan Toy Park just to show Sarah around:

Ang kulit nito, roaches inflatables! Waaah!

Just outside the toy park is this cute, head-turner cat:

Group photo! Read more on my Ginza experience last year HERE.


Went to Harajuku twice for this trip! One was on our first day to meet JaPinoy bloggers Kiko and Kaila (Eyeball! Hehe), and another day just to shop. Harajuku is the center of Tokyo's teen and fashion culture. Shopping districts in Harajuku includes Takeshita Dori and Omotesando.

Check out the cute subway anime illustrations:

Daytime along Harajuku's famous Takeshita Street:

Still beautiful and lively during nighttime:

It was crowded when I went there last year, but this time it was actually more bearable even for a Sunday! And unlike before na nag style-spotting and Daiso shopping lang kami ni Ate, for this trip we were able to go around and shop more!

Spotted Drake twice:

With every turn is fashion and wasteland paradise! Instagram Boulevard? Haha.

Cute shoes and bags:

Knick-knacks heaven! Prepare to lose money! (more on my haul HERE).

The styles you will see range from costumey:

To street (I love the silk bomber jacket!).

To thrifted:

There's a shop where I saw girls enter just to fix and curl their hair on their own:

A crazy shop named Condomania that does not sell condo units, but well, Alam nyo na! A building dedicated entirely for condoms -- Only in Japan! 

A shop where you can play Family Computer:

And kawaii food and restaurants stand-out with their colors and bright lights:

Cheesy long fries inside one of Takeshita mall's food court:

Candy A-Go-Go:

Pancakes and Pancake Days

During our shopping day in Harajuku, we needed a break and entered the first coffee shop that we saw. Moena is not "very Japan" at first glance, but I actually enjoyed dining in here for their more relaxed ambiance. The pancakes are also HUGE! Hindi namin naubos kahit share na kaming tatlo.

My favorite pancake experience was of course in Pancake Days, as recommended by Kaila (According to Kiko and Gervin: "The Queen of Harajuku", hehe). Kaila said that the place is usually pinipilahan, a habit by Japanese na pag may makitang pila, they also line up out of curiousity!

Although there was no line, we were seated after almost an hour of waiting. People really go here to take their time and enjoy their food with friends. Sabi ni Kaila, "Ano titigan na ba natin sila Pinoy style?" Hehehe.

 Worth it, though! The pancake is surprisingly good! Usually same-same lang naman and no-fail ang pag luto ng pancakes, but the ones served here are more spongey and creamy. Sarah and I shared the dessert pancakes topped with berries, while Pax tried the savory version with beef stew!

Thank you Kaila and Kiko for spending your Sunday with us! We usually just like and comment on each others' Instagram, so it's a big finally to have met these nice people from the online fashion community. Check them out on Instagram @kikocagayat and @rainbowholic.

Thank you for the tips, kwentos, and laughs! :)

Cat Street, Harajuku

Still within Harajuku, Kiko introduced us to the less touristy Cat Street - a road crossing the middle of Omotesando. We walked here so he can show that our neighborhood in Shibuya is actually walkable to Harajuku! I love touring with locals.

Cat Street is lined mostly with street style stores with artsy facades and window displays. These shops are mostly local, independent brands, but there are also international labels here and there.

Turning Japanese? Haha! Wearing the heart sunglasses that I bought for @shopanagon.

What I like about Japan is how they patronize their local brands. There are several shops I saw that openly say they proudly sell only Japan-Made items. It is an admirable trait, no wonder their economy is doing well - they support and love their own.

 Temple in the Middle of the City

If you're in Harajuku's vicinity, there are several tourist spots you can also check-out while you're there. Right across Yoyogi Park is the Meiji Shrine 明治神宮, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. 

It is easy to spot the Meiji Shrine from the train station - it has a huge torii gate sticking like a sore thumb in the middle of the city. I like it though, a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively.

Sadly, the shrine has on-going constructions when we entered further. Still worth the time, the 70 hectares of evergreen forest area leading to the main temple gave us a nice break from Tokyo's cityscape.

Spent just a few minutes around the compound, before leaving Meiji Shrine and our written prayers and continued on with our journeys.

Harajuku Style Spotting

On Instagram, I received a direct message asking for packing tips or what to bring and wear in Japan during June-July, or the rainy season. Before our trip, I was actually hesitant on bringing just summer outfits since I can't imagine Japan as "kasing init lang ng Pilipinas". But true enough, listen to these pieces of advice as it is comparable to our current weather!

The only layering I can accomplish is wearing a rain or lightweight jacket over my clothes. Take your cue from some of these effortless Japanese street styles that I spotted during our two days in Harajuku.

Jacket or polo shirt over your tank top + Head Gear (bonnet or cap) + Sneakers (preferably in red):

Even adults look chic with their large totes, long cardigan, and folded olive green trousers:

So chic!

Summer layering: tank top or sleeveless dress over your white shirt:

Denim jumpers:

Coordinates + Candy-Colored Hair:

Parang naka pose na for ootd! Bucket Hat + Culottes + Sneakers:

Don't be afraid to go wild: Cosplayers are everywhere!

Balance your jacket with short shorts or skirt:

Wear something oversized, like a big shirt or loose dress:

Hats, backpacks, and denims are cute! Don't forget your clear plastic umbrella!

Silk bomber jackets (lighter version) and jerseys:

Go in pairs! Twinning is a thing in Japan:

This one is not in Harajuku, but I took his photo because look how manly he is even with a bun and girly tote!

With the diversity of sights to see, things to do, and even foods to try, I can't imagine running out of inspiration when in Tokyo. In an article I read (still in Kinfolk), you travel to expose yourself to something different and unlike you. BUT it is in actual immersion (talking to the people, eating their food, enjoying what they do for fun) where you will truly get that creative inspiration in traveling, than just being a mere passerby, passing through their roads unscathed.

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  1. Hi Ana! May i know what camera are you using and how you usually edit your photos? Your blog is really nice!! :)


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