What do you do when you're in a foreign country when a typhoon is bearing down on you? That was the question I faced as I woke up on Tuesday morning. It was still raining incessantly, and I was becoming increasingly aware that going outside would be a stupid mistake. Reports were coming in that Typhoon Phanfone would be making landfall in Tokyo at around 11am, and after it had passed we could carry on with our day.
With that in mind, Justin and I spent an uneventful morning in our hotel room. As the typhoon approached, however, it became a little more exciting. The wind had developed a terrifying howl, one that I had never heard before, and looking outside my hotel room window saw that the streets were virtually empty - an eerie sight considering how busy it usually is. The occasional person was rushing to get inside, holding umbrellas crippled by the wind. As the wind grew stronger, sirens started going off outside, with announcements telling everyone to get indoors. It was surreal; like something from a film. In Melbourne we very rarely experience any kind of 'extreme' weather, so hearing sirens going off was mildly terrifying.
And then - as soon as it came, it passed. Not 20 minutes after the wind was blowing open our windows, the rain had stopped, the clouds dispersed, and the sun came out. It was amazing. Bewildered, we left the hotel for Shibuya, marvelling at how life went straight back to normal despite the typhoon that was there not an hour before. The trains were even running normally, a feat that Melbourne trains struggle to achieve even on a mild day.
After grabbing some lunch in Shibuya, we wandered up Cat Street, looking at all of the beautiful little shops that lined the street. This peaceful walk led us directly to Omotesandō, a busy strip in Harajuku that houses most luxury brands. I, however, had another shop in mind - Kiddyland. This mega-kawaii store is four floors of all kinds of toys, and is probably a parents nightmare. Happily for me, I was just buying presents for myself so I went a little crazy on all manner of Studio Ghibli and Sailor Moon merchandise. It's hard to keep your cool when you're surrounded by so many bright colours!
So much Sailor Moon!
After buying entirely too many cute things, we eventually ended up at Laforet, the epicentre of Harajuku fashion. When entering this building, one must adopt the mantra of: "I will only buy things that I will wear back home. I will not buy that pastel pink frilly dress, no matter how amazing it may be." It's very easy (and expensive) to get caught up in the moment, believe me.
We ended our Harajuku exploring in perhaps the busiest street in Tokyo - Takeshita Dori. This pedestrian-only street is crammed full of clothes and all manner of kawaii goodness, which you can gaze at through the crush of people doing the same thing. It's pretty crowded, as many tourists come here to try and get a glimpse of that famous Harajuku fashion. Pro-tip: you're best bet for spotting these ladies is on a Sunday morning.
With the sun fading, we crossed over Harajuku station to see Meiji Jingu. Unfortunately it was about to close for the day so we didn't get all the way to the main shrine, however we did snap some photos beforehand.
Quickly popped back to Shinjuku and got a gorgeous look at the sunset amongst the neon signs.
To finish off the day, we met up with some friends in Shibuya at an Izakaya called 35 Steps. And wow, what an absolutely incredible experience this was! The food was amazing, from the super fresh sashimi to the mackerel cooked right in front of us with a blow torch, the whole experience was fantastic and とてもおいしい!
After a few too many beers, we said goodbye and raced back to Shibuya station to catch the last train back to Shinjuku.