Monday, October 4, 2010

In and Around Harajuku

This past weekend, I had two shopping missions: revisit the flea market for potential future gifts, and find a wig for my Halloween costume. The flea market in question is in the lobby of an office building in downtown Tokyo, just east of a large train station.

Inside this station, there's a new kind of vending machine. One, it's a giant TV screen instead of plastic models of the cans and bottles inside. Two, it's interactive in a new way.

I'd never heard of this type of machine before, but how it was explained to me is that it scans the face of the person making a decision and highlights options based on what it sees. For me, it recommended tea or water. For my friend it suggested juice, tea, or a caramel latte (she realized that she really did want the caramel latte, so it was an excellent suggestion). For the husband, I think it suggested soda or an energy drink. Interesting concept, and I wonder how it works and what kind of variables it sees when it scans a face. If anybody reading this knows where I can find out more, please share a link.

Edit: Ask and ye shall receive. Thanks, Mew!

On Sundays in Harajuku, it's not all that unusual to see people in unusual outfits. On our first trip we saw two drag queens lip synching to some awful music. On a weekend past, I saw a guy wearing a shirt in Rastafarian colors that said "I like black people" and a handful of people in ruffly skirts with candy-colored wigs. Yesterday we saw the Red and Pink Power Rangers and more ruffly skirts and tiny top hats. I say this, not because I have any pictures (unfortunately), but because the following store display is really bizarre, but not entirely out of place in this neighborhood.

It's a clothing store. Mostly standard stuff, as far as I could tell from the doorway. I have no explanation for the things in the window.

After finding a wig (just a couple more costume elements to find), we went to a Thai restaurant for a late lunch and headed home.

I got a spicy mango salad that made my lips feel like they were on fire, but the carrot carvings were beautiful.

Our friend got fried rice...which is what she'd been craving, but next time I'm going to insist she get something more traditional Thai. She's never had Thai food, and I don't think this counts.

Husband o'Mine got some spicy chicken thing, which met his expectation of not being as spicy as he wanted it to be. Apparently some Bangladeshi cuisine has spoiled him for spicy; if it doesn't physically harm him, he's not impressed. He's seriously considering using pepper spray as a condiment at our next cookout.

And back to the 'burbs. (Taken near our train station)

The suburbs here aren't like the suburbs in the US. Take your idea of the suburbs, multiply all the buildings and people by about 4, and that's semi-rural here.

Yes, there's a KFC near our train station. Complete with a five-foot-tall fiberglass Colonel. One day I'll get a better photo, I didn't have a chance at this moment.

I'm excited, though, all those little orange banners on the light poles are about a Halloween event of some sort. No website or date or anything, but maybe something cool will happen. I'm also impressed by how many stores have Halloween decorations up, I thought it was a pretty low-key holiday here. It could be pretty awesome.


  1. So, does that mean you can only buy one of the things the machine recommends for you?

  2. You can buy anything you want, it just highlights certain drinks as suggestions for you.