SHIRLEY'S JAPAN JOURNAL - 05-29-09
This was the most worrisome day for me. It would be the day that we had no tours, no support, and no guidance. It was just us, our non-existent grasp of the Japanese language, and Tokyo. We had breakfast in a small cafe and ventured into the subway. Earlier we had found that if we were to take Taxis as our main mode of transport, our funds would be depleted rather quickly.
Into the subway we went. We wanted to go back to Asakusa for souvenir shopping and then to Shibuya, so that I could buy some requested hair grease for a friend's husband. The subway experience was far from fun for me, though as I look back on it now it will be a fond memory. First, we got on the wrong line many times because it was difficult to read the maps and understand the setup. Second because as soon as we boarded the subways, my father and Javier immediately started taking pictures of each other, making it blatantly obvious that they wanted the Japanese people in their background.
We made it to Asakusa but had almost depleted half our day. We walked around, bought many trinkets, and took many photos. Next we would need to make it across town to Shibuya. I was armed with only a map and the store name "Tokyu hands" where I could buy the hair grease for my friend's husband. We jumped back on the subway, but hadn't gotten any better at understanding the subway system. Several wrong stops later, we finally made it to Shibuya. I was tired and was hoping that Tokyu hands would be within walking distance. Unfortunately it was not. By then I was so tired that I told my family that I was willing to pay for a taxi however long the distance was. We found a taxi and luckily it was not so expensive.
I walked into Tokyu Hands to find that it was a 7-story department store. I was told that I could probably find the Cool Grease on floor 3B. As I walked up the stairs, my heart started to beat from anxiety.
What if we had come all the way here, and there was no Cool Grease? Then what? I tried not to think about it. I made it to the right floor and walked around.
There it was like the sun's rays breaking through the clouds. Cool Grease in all kinds of colors and sizes. I grabbed the hardest one I could find (I assumed the XX meant that it was 2wice as strong).
Upon leaving Tokyu hands, my father joked that I should charge my friend the cost of transportation to get here. I just laughed. My family had been troopers for coming with me all this way for some hair grease.
We were hungry so we decided to walk around to see if we could find a nice place to eat. On the map I noticed that Shibuya was very close to Harajuku, which is a place known for Japanese fashion. I was hoping I would catch glimpses of the street fashion. Shibuya was a nice shopping district and it had an almost eerie resemblance to Union Square in San Francisco. At one point I would've sworn I was back in SF if it had not been for the Japanese characters on all the signs. There I noted a lot of young girls in Japanese fashion outfits - an urban look with knee-highs, skirts, and dirty blonde (obviously died) hair. They were all so beautiful and well put together and maintained. I was really beginning to like Japanese fashion.
We were sort of tricked into eating dinner at an expensive restaurant. That, and we had no alternative since this was a pricey part of town. It was dusk when we left the restaurant and there were significantly more people walking the streets - probably because it was after work hours. We made it to a large intersection which included tall buildings and flat jumbo screens. We were on the corner waiting at a red light when we glanced all the way across the street and noticed that the number of people waiting at the red light was getting so large that it seemed like a large spectator crowd. Looking back at our side, we realized that we were also part of a large spectator crowd. There must've been hundreds or even thousands of people, and yet no significant event occurring. This was just normal.
Everyone was so considerate, that no one dared cross the street until the light turned green. When it did so, we didn't move. We merely stood there in astonishment as we saw two big crowds of people coming towards each other and converging in mid-street. My father's eyes widened and he looked like a kid in a candy store. Both Javier and my dad started snapping pictures of themselves among the "organized chaos". We spent a ridiculous amount of time at that intersection, basking in the spectacle. By the time we were ready to try and take the subway back home, my dad's message to my friend had suddenly changed.
"Tell your friend I said thank you." he said smiling.