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Read more about Diana’s adventures and life in Yachiyo City:
Harajuku and Hanabi
One of the best parts about moving here is the location of my city. My neighborhood is relatively quiet, being within walking distance to rice fields. It has enough bustle to feel safe (in the sense that there are people around), but tucked away from the craze of Tokyo. On the other hand, the train station is about a 7-minute walk; and roughly a 50-minute ride will get you right into the heart of that craze. Fifty minutes and you have numerous places to shop, eat, museums and sights to be seen at your fingertips.
Now, as promised I will share my first experiences with the fashion district of Harajuku. After obsessing over photos of the outrageous fashion it was such a joy to actually see it all in person! There are countless boutiques plump with platform shoes, souvenir t-shirts, Disney paraphernalia, Peter Pan collared blouses and “Engrish” phrases on anything you desire.
There are also a dozen different crepe shops to visit for a sweet treat. If you haven’t had a dessert or savory crepe from Japan, then you are missing out, my friend!! They have any flavor you can think of from matcha ice cream with chocolate and mochi, to strawberry cheesecake to bacon pizza; there is no choice unsatisfying. Plus, even if crepes aren’t your thing the fake food displays are something to marvel at…
Since Harajuku is famous for it’s shopping, I was so excited to find myself a vintage Yukata at a resale shop for a steal of a price! A Yukata is a light summer kimono, made out of cotton as opposed to silk, that is much more suitable for humid summer months. I was able to borrow one belonging to my coworker before finding my own when we attended one of the many summer festivals here in Japan.
The summer festivals happen all season long all over the country on almost every weekend. They are full of delicious fair food (fried and fantastic) like takoyaki (fired octopus balls), karage (Japanese style fried chicken) and soba noodles. After indulging in these treats, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the marvelous fireworks displays. I have been forever ruined for our Fourth of July by Japanese fireworks! They are always incredible shows and draw huge crowds for viewing. Many businesses sponsor the shows, so they become a point of pride. And do they deliver! They have fireworks in every color, ones that seem to sparkle, ones shaped like bears, cars or hearts, plus some they even coordinate to music.
However, my absolute favorite thing about fireworks here is the Japanese name: hanabi. It literally translates to “fire flower”. What an apt description! I can’t wait for the next opportunity to attend a summer festival so that I can break in my own Yukata… And if you find yourself in Japan in the summer, make sure you put Harajuku and hanabi on your list.