Friday, August 8, 2008

"See you in my dream, be on time."

On Saturday we went to Harajuku, the place famous for funky fashion choices. We saw a few girls in elaborate Alice-esque outfits, and many more in shop windows. Because of the heat we stopped at just about every shaved-ice-stand we saw. I enjoyed looking at cramped shops stuffed with pictures of my favorite musical artists and actors, and dared to buy a few.

We meandered over to Yoyogi Park, fanning ourselves even in the shade of vast trees. The insects there can be deafening. We visited Meiji Shrine - it's a strange thing to notice but we consistently were struck by how the sites smelled. We'd walk into one and before we even said, "It's big, it's golden, look at that carving," we'd sniff. Every temple and shrine has a warm cedar smell like the inside of a sauna or a woodstove. This one was built of cypress, and the heat magnified the scent until all you wanted to do was stand in the doorway and breath in the rest of the day. It's an amazing sensory experience - I mean, you'd never walk into a church here and say, "Wow, would you smell that." Although, actually, I think I did do that in cathedrals in Europe so maybe it's just a me-thing.

The torii gate at the entrance, with mama to compare:

Here there were many more of the prayers written on boards called ema, circling an enormous tree. Because of how many tourists visit there, many were in different languages. I was amused to see that some of them were written in honor of the celebrities I'd earlier seen enshrined in Takeshita street. I bought a little knotted bag that is supposed to be a good luck charm for "sound mind and body." I can use that.

We were lucky enough to witness a Shinto wedding procession, when all the tourists moved out of the way and fell silent. I was uncertain whether pictures where allowed, but mama said "The Japanese are taking them!"

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