Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Harajuku Sunday, Part 2

(Food stalls in the park; Osaka-yaki and Yakisoba)

Ok, when you get to Harajuku station, head to the south exit, in the direction of Shibuya. Follow the crowds up the hill and along the bridge over the train tracks. Take a left at the t-intersection (a right will take you into a part of Yoyogi park that contains an exhibit on the Imperial family) and go about a block. You're now facing the back entrance to Yoyogi park. Stay on the sidewalk that follows the outside of the park alongside the street. But, at this point you probably don't need my directions any more - just go check out the noise.

(Punk band playing in the park)

Sunday afternoon in Harajuku means amateur band day. All kinds of groups will haul their gear out and set up to get in some practice before an audience (with their speaker stacks about 20 feet from their neighbor bands). In the past, several groups had gotten scouted this way, and ended up signing professional recording contracts. The day I was out there, I saw 2 punk bands, a couple straight rock bands, a Caribbean-style steel drum group, and a couple of people that just liked to ham it up for the audience (although to be fair, one of the hams, who played a little keyboard, sang and otherwise just mugged it up, had the largest fan following around, with 30-40 people all copying his dance actions along with him). I thought that one of the punk bands (click here to see video), and the steel drum group, were both pretty good.

(Steel drums group)

But it's not just about the music. There are a few artists, and many used crap street vendors set up as well. In addition, there are the street dancers. I think some of these dancers were performing when I first came to Japan 15 years ago. This time there were the 1950's greasers dancing to rock (click to see video), and the accompanying sock hop girls. Not sure what happened to the cheerleader girls or the roller skate girls - maybe they retired, or just took a break this weekend.

(Some of the 50's greasers on break)

(Sock hop girls)

(More sock hop girls)

(Drawing by one of the artists there)

(No idea)

If you visit Tokyo and really want to have some fun, Harajuku *HAS* to be on your itinerary.

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