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The Harajuku Hang

Harajuku is an interesting area of Tokyo. One of the miniature towns strung out along the Yamanote Line that rings the centre of the city, it's an intriguing intersection of styles.

It's home to Meiji Jingu, possibly the foremost example of traditional Japanese shrine architecture in the country and home to the largest torii gates in Japan. The shrine is next door to Yoyogi Park, prime venue for summer picnics and impromptu Sunday afternoon raves. Harajuku also marks one end of Omotesando, a wide, tree-lined avenue of chic boutiques and snobbish pavement cafes.

But it's also the place where, by some kind of unspoken consensus, dozens of teenagers congregate each Sunday, dressed to shock. On a typical afternoon you can expect to see Little Bo Peep in Doc Marten boots, goth doctors with stethoscopes and spiky blue hair, and sado-masochist fetishists pierced with safety pins and clutching teddy bears.

The bridge linking Harajuku Station with Meiji Jingu is where they all hang out, and is always great for photo-opportunities. They are, pretty much without exception, totally up for being photographed and will pose for anyone who asks, complete with affected scowls and maybe the odd extended middle finger. There's not much point in being an introverted exhibitionist, I suppose.

This weekend was particularly interesting because of the Falun Gong demonstration amid all the chaos of white-faced ghouls, bondage Nazis and bemused tourists. I found myself wondering if any of the assembled teens had any idea what the two gents doing what looked like Tai Chi were doing there. Probably not, but it seems unfair to blame teenagers for having teenage priorities.

I'll put some of the photos on-line, if any of them come out okay. But first I should sleep.

Posted by chris at April 23, 2001 11:35 PM | Permalink

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