It can be described in many words, or no words at all. It is a place that exceeds your imagination, one that you cannot fully comprehend until you’ve experienced it yourself.
Before even arriving in Japan, I got a glimpse of Japanese culture through my Airbnb host, Mari.
Mari provided us with a detailed 28 page guide of how to reach her flat from Narita and Haneda Airports for all methods of transport. Instantaneously, I knew Japanese culture was kind, helpful, & meticulously efficient. Not only were walking directions included to the closest stations, but also cute pictures, arrows, and my hero, Hello Kitty.
Did I mention Mari’s place is a Hello Kitty themed flat in Harajuku?
With my detailed guide in hand, I made it to Harajuku in no time, even with the language barrier.
To get to the flat, I had to go via Takeshita Street. Takeshita Street is a dream come true for shoppers and non-shoppers alike. You are immediately hit with the sweet smell of most elaborate crepes and cotton candy, a lot of pink, and everything anime. You have to have a stone cold heart if you are not overcome with cute aggression. EVERYTHING IS CUTE: street signs to fuzzy shoes and anime tunes.
First order of business: even before getting to the flat, we had to get our hands on some brightly colored hair dye and the face masks for our Japanese makeover/takeover.
After weaving in and out of the hectic streets of Harajuku (and taking note of selfie stick rules and regulations,) we made it to our mini Hello Kitty palace.
The next day we immersed ourselves in the culture a step further, and booked hair appointments at a local spot for Japanese haircuts, where we made a little cutie Frenchie friend named Lili.
We shopped our hearts out the next three days! We hit vintage shops down Harajuku backstreets, the pop up maze of La Foret, and endless cute cafes/vending machines with ramen all along the way.
Just as we got comfortable around, (we already felt like locals on the third day in Harajuku) it was time to shake things up and leave the modern city, and travel back in time to experience the ancient culture of Kyoto–via 200 mph bullet train.