Tokyo – Harajuku, Ryogoku

 Harajuku
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After a nice meal at Shinjuku, we hoped back onto the Yamonote Line to Harajuku. This place is popular with trendy shopping and cosplay or costume play – where individuals dressed up and imitate the characters from manga, anime or computer games. The train station was packed shoulder to shoulder with people. Very orderly everyone exited the station. The popular Takeshita Dori was similarly crowded especially with young girls. And there, a teenager, dressed flamboyantly in a character paraded up and down the street. Make- up, lively attire, sparkling costume jewellery and chic hairstyles are part of this popular teenage culture that happens every Sunday. It is an eccentric way to break away from the norm.

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Other than people watching, this street is lined with fast food outlets, cafe, retail shops, costume jewellery, fashion boutiques and more. It was great just to wander. On Omotesando, trendy designer brands were on offer in a boulevard street lined with shady trees. In contrast, there were mainly adults with cash to spend. It was a good walk and we headed back to the colonial looking train station. Armed with the handy JR Pass, we took the train across Sumida River to another Japanese icon – Sumo wrestling in Ryogoku.

 

 

Ryogoku

“Sumo wrestlers were mobbed by the locals …..Something of celebrities in Japan” – Navindd

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September is sumo season in Tokyo. Tickets are in demand but we headed there anyway. Ryogoku Stadium is a short walk from the station through the old neighbourhood. Inside the stadium, the great sumo wrestlers take to the ring for battle. Sake containers at the entrance of a few establishments indicate the national drink is available. A small crowd waited outside Kokugikan Stadium. Unluckily, all tickets were sold out except the pricy box seats. We were disappointed. A few sumo wrestlers came out from the tournament. They were mobbed by the visiting crowd. They obliged. They were of different body weights. With their hair tied up neatly, dressed in loose “yukata” and sash, they commanded respect. This Japanese icon was exclusively for Japanese only. Today, however, a few foreigners have been accepted. There are a few Sumo stables – where the wrestlers live while in training, in this area. It is a strict discipline and required commitment. We headed back to the station. A few men and women walked on the street in traditional dresses – kimono and “yukata”.

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