Sunday, April 1, 2012

Early hanami + Yoyogi + Harajuku

Yoyogi Park at dusk

On this sunny yet crisp Sunday, my friends and I gathered at Yoyogi Park for a late afternoon of pre-hanami (hanami literally means "flower viewing"), paired with a farewell picnic for a mutual friend. The cherry blossoms were not present yet, but we could not wait any longer to soak in springtime. Hanami is the happiest and most beautiful time of the year in Japan, and for the handful of days sakura are in bloom, friends and families gather under the trees for foods, drinks, and general lightheartedness.

Yoyogi Park is conveniently located in the heart of Tokyo, and is a popular spot for hanami. I showed up fashionably late to the event, but had enough time to exchange mindless banter with my friends and have a few snacks and drinks, before venturing out to the busy streets of adjacent Harajuku.

I caught up with my friends Tom and Gordon from popular Tokyo act the 9/11s, who promised me a blog-worthy (and affordable) Italian feast at a popular chain, unknown to me until today. I was enthusiastic to try one of their recommendations, albeit slightly worried about whether I was dressed for the occasion. I enjoyed strutting down Takeshita street in company of the 9/11s, who complained the aforementioned street had recently become gentrified. True to style, they tried on a plethora of shiny and flashy accessories, but we got scolded by most shops for snapping pictures (Sun Style, I'm talking about you). Maybe Takeshita really is gentrified.

Sadly, the hopes of cheap Italian food evaporated as we hit a derelict building that formerly hosted the chain (which I was apparently overdressed for). Instead, we headed a few blocks down to a quaint izakaya tucked in the Harajuku streets, where we shared various (mostly raw) dishes ranging from sushi to salads, which felt pretty healthy minus the copious amounts of cold beer.

Great company, tasty treats, and springtime euphoria all made this Sunday quite blissful.

The 9/11s, Tom and Gordon

What used to be La Pausa: only the name is fancy

Gordon is star-struck

We got mini beers for waiting

Sapporo is one of Japan's most popular beers

We did not get scolded in Shibuya


8 comments:

Susie said...

I was in Yoyogi park yesterday too, as part of a weekend trip to Tokyo. Such a fun place for people watching!

Nick said...

La Pausa is on the same restaurant level as Shakeys.... I'm glad you didn't have to subject your blog to it haha

Anni said...

That first picture is beautiful, the lighting makes it look really calm even though there probably was a lot of bustle :)

snowfish1121 said...

I used to work with Gordon in Gunma... he's a fabulous, hilarious guy!

Vivian said...

Susie: I read your Tokyo posts, wonderful!!!

Nick: YES!! "I don't do buffets", I once said ;)

Anni: Thanks, and indeed, it was quite crowded!

Snowfish: I LOVE Gordon!!! So funny you know him, but I'm not surprised... !

snowfish1121 said...

Yeah, my best memory of Gordon is doing karaoke with a huge group, and a huge bottle of cheap pink champagne with gold flakes in it... we outlasted everyone, drank all the champagne, and ended up singing old school Janet Jackson songs til like 4 in the morning, just us in this huge room after everyone else left. Then he gave me a ride home on the back of his mama-chari bicycle, like the junior high school kids do. Good times! I see he's still staying classy, LOL.

snowfish1121 said...

Yeah, my best memory of Gordon is doing karaoke with a huge group, and a huge bottle of cheap pink champagne with gold flakes in it... we outlasted everyone, drank all the champagne, and ended up singing old school Janet Jackson songs til like 4 in the morning, just us in this huge room after everyone else left. Then he gave me a ride home on the back of his mama-chari bicycle, like the junior high school kids do. Good times! I see he's still staying classy, LOL.

Vivian said...

Snowfish- Great story!! Sounds like a typical night out with Gordon... he's read the blog comments ;) I feel so lucky I know him, he is hilarious.