Layover at Yoyogi ParkLast November my wife and I had an 11-hour layover at Narita Airport, and so we took the Narita Express and then the Yamanote line into Shibuya. After Shibuya, we walked to Yoyogi Park. It was a Sunday morning, and the dry cold air made us feel like the leaves were changing right in front of us. We sat on a bench by the large fountained pond. The park was quietly busy: people ate lunch, joggers ran, a woman sat in the grass trying to photograph her disobedient dog, a young man played what looked to be a sitar, a photography club plied their skills and then stood for a group picture. We ate at a busy food truck: lo mien noodles, fried shrimp balls, egg soup, a fat pork bun. We washed it all down with a tall can of Asahi. We sat in the park for two hours. As we walked back to the station, we found groups of Japanese men and women wearing 501 jeans, pointy shoes, leather jackets, and pompadoured hair, all dancing to Heartbreak Hotel. One group, the "Harajuku Lebels," reminded me of when Charlotte asked Bob Harris, "Why do they switch the r's and the l's here?" and he said, “Uh, for yuks.” I was happy to find that the Lebels were also in on the joke.
So if you have a long layover at Narita, I’d say to catch a quick ride into Yoyogi Park. There you’re likely to find a harmony of people and place in unguarded moments that might very well give you a glimpse into the Japanese soul. Besides, it sure beats spending the time sitting in those uncomfortable airport chairs.
Elvis Lives in Tokyo
I found jugglers in Yoyogi park
Yoyogi park is this great park in Harajuku where everyone congregates to practice their hobbies. There were people playing sports, games, dancing, everything! This is where you'll find many of the fancifully dressed folks that Harajuku is famous for.
As an avid juggler, I was happy to spot a couple of people juggling in the park. I didn't have any juggling balls with me on this trip so I had been going through a bit of juggling withdrawl, I was a bit to shy to approach the strangers, but Donna went right up and told them I was a juggler. Next thing I knew we were juggling together and sharing tricks – great fun!
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Hanging with the Harajuku Lebels
Cool enigmas abound in Japan: the color-coded synapses of public transportation, dating shows driven by audience group-think, the fact that Tokyo is one of the densest cities on earth yet somehow eerily peaceful and quiet. (I often compare its silence to the cacophony and hustle I find in Bangkok.)
As my wife and I were heading back towards Shinjuku Station to leave Japan, we found Japanese greasers wearing dark 501 jeans, pointy shoes, leather jackets and pompadoured hair dancing to Heartbreak Hotel. One group, the Harajuku Lebels, looked ready to rock and roll. They made me think about what Charlotte and Bob had said and I was happy to find that the Lebels were also very much in on the joke.