For our last full day in Japan, we returned to Harajuku so I could buy some more beads. I spared my son the torture and he spent the day at KidZania with his friends.
Before hitting the shops, we spent a littel time at Meiji Jingu which is a gorgeous park next to Harajuku station. The gardens and trees are beautiful, and it is very relaxing strolling through the grounds.
I would like to have a tranquil little tea house like this in my backyard.
I was hoping to be lucky enough to see a wedding here, but didn't manage to. I did however, see a baby ceremony; maybe similar to a Christening.
There is also the mandatory souvenir shop, so I purchased a few pretty cards.
Then it was off to Kiwa Seisakusho in LaForet to buy some last minute beads. If I could have my dream job anywhere in the world, it would be at Kiwa. There are two stores in LaForet, only meters apart. One sells mainly Swarovski beads, whilst the other sells findings, gems and Czech beads. There is so much variety here, so if you are a traveller looking for beads, I recommend you stop here first, Asakusabashi is fantastic, but it is too big an area to cover if you have limited time.
Photos from Laforet website.
The second shop also contains a cafe where you can attend beading workshops whilst sipping coffee. That's my idea of heaven.
On the way back to the train station, my daughter wanted to browse the shops in Takeshita Dori.
Now, I don't like to blog on anything negative, but there is one extremely negative element on Takeshita Dori- the drug peddlars. Positioned in various spots along the street, these American guys attempt to take you down a back alley to make you buy "hip hop clothes", but my Japanese friend said they really sell drugs. At one point, one of them even grabbed my young son's arm, "Hey Boy. You wanna buy some hip hop clothes?" It is totally disgusting behavior. I really don't understand why the authorities don't get rid of them. They seem to be there everyday and they stand out in the crowd being American, so they wouldn't be difficult to find. A reason that I love Japan is, the distinct lack of harrassment from shop attendants and touters. I love that I can walk around freely in a shop and not be pressured by the staff. Compare this to Hong Kong, where Indian rip off merchants hang around the entrances of the hotels and then swarm you as soon as you step out the door, trying to sell you a fake Rolex or persuade you to go into some seedy looking building to buy a fake handbag. Auuugh! That really ruined my holiday to Hong Kong. So it was with great disappointment that we were accosted by these Americans in Harajuku. It made me feel really unsafe. My daughter especially wanted to walk around by herself, but I felt it was too dangerous for a young foreign girl. Anyway, I will not be returning to Takeshita again. Besides, there are many other little quiet streets to explore in Harajuku, and Takeshita really sells alot of junk, and is extremely crowded. So, that is the only bad feedback I have about Japan from a tourist's point of view. To be fair, there are plenty of similar types on the Gold Coast in the touristy areas, but I never go to that part of town, for that particular reason.
So my recommendation is, steer clear of Takeshita Dori and stick to the main roads or the other side streets, and explore all the indie shops and cafes. And do visit Kiwa in LaForet if you are a bead fanatic. Even if you have never made jewellery before, there are many simple pieces you can make; for example you can purchase a ring base, and then insert a Swarovski crystal, and you will have a beautiful item of jewellery for under 1000 yen!
N.B: Ashley, who lives in Tokyo has advised me that the men in question are actually Nigerian. I thought they sounded like they were American due to their accent. So, I am not denigrating Americans, in fact, I am half American myself (my mum and grandfather were American). Anyway, the point of my post is, I travel to Japan to enjoy the Japanese culture, and it is totally unacceptable for these men to grab little boys and scare them. I just wanted to alert any tourists about what to expect in this area, and mother bears with cubs like me, will certainly appreciate the warning.
Also, Kid Zania was one of the highlights of my son's trip. Have a look here - it looks wonderful