Anxiety! It spikes through my body in waves, like a bad trip. I am filled with a low hum of anxiety about this trip all the time, because I am alone in a foreign country and it would be crazy not to. But this particular anxiety pertains to the real life that is waiting for me at home, the things I tried to avoid by coming here. I wish I didn’t have to face these things, but maybe now is exactly the right time, with some distance, weighed down by jetlag. Negative stuff doesn’t just go away because you ignore it. It will take me all my life to learn that lesson. Facing difficult things head on is… not my strong suit.
Anyway, who has time for that crap when you’ve got Harajuku to discover? I bought a red, lolita-adjacent flowy dress especially for this, and goddammit I’m gonna wear the crap out of it.
Harajuku: an odd mix of big avenues piled high with pricey brands Vuitton-Dior-Chanel-whatever, imposing malls and winding alleys full of designer stores and select thrift shops.
The subway takes me directly to Takeshita-dori: the belly of the beast. The sun is out today, the city is vibrant and full, this particular fervor I understand. Steep stairs lead to skull-adorned shops where they sell necklaces with tiny silver locks…. you know the ones. My Nana-loving heart bleeds. Rainbow-colored cotton candy, cream filled crepes, rad pumps and platform shoes so high they would bring you to tears. Takeshita-dori doesn’t disappoint.
I walk the slightly more chill avenues and streets of Otome-sando, enjoying this flirty little thing we’ve got going on, the sun and I. Slight wardrobe mishap: the wind loves to play with my flowy dress, which, by definition, flows. I hold on to my dress Marilyn-style every two seconds and pray I’m not actually flashing anyone.
At Laforet, I find vegan ramen. Vegan! Ramen! Three cheers for food. Well-fed and with renewed energy, I head to a vintage thrift store, get totally lost on the way there, end up strolling through the tiny streets of a residential neighbourhood, sunny and quiet. This is so nice. I take advantage of the quiet to turn up the music.
Google Maps points me in the right direction and while night falls, I head to Akihabara, temple of otaku culture, according to the guide. Well, okay. It is brightly colored and imposing. Okay. There are manga and gaming shops. Cool. I’m freezing in my flowy dress and there’s nothing charming about this place. Also, my feet hurt. I head back to the hostel.
That evening, I get a call from my dad. He’s in the south of Laos, getting ready to cross over to the Dark Side (aka Cambodia). We spend a few minutes shitting all over the French: family traditions.
I’ve got museum tickets for tomorrow and a brand new Harajuku sweater to show off. Life is good.
SONG CREDITS : Nightingale/December Song – Sunset Rubdown