Man wanted to buy souvenirs for her friends and colleagues so before we went shopping, we packed our cases and discovered there was plenty of room going spare. I decided a mini fabric run was in order! We walked to the Mihama shop in Nippori and picked about 200m of fabrics for a new kit I'm planning. The lady in the shop suddenly recognised me from all of my previous visits and seemed very happy that I'd come back, so we had a very brief chat while she totted up my purchases. Mr Mihama packed everything into large bags, and we enjoyed a gym workout carrying them all back to the hotel, stopping frequently to stretch our tired arms.
There was one place that seemed perfect for our last day in Tokyo...Harajuku! Harajuku station is a lovely old wooden building which is due to be demolished after the Tokyo Olympics, so I really wanted Man to see it before that happens.
With a 4-storey 100 yen (70p) shop in the middle of teenybopper hangout Takeshita Dori, the beautiful, 120 year old Meiji Shrine set in a forest and a sushi joint on a street full of designer shops where you shout your order over the counter to the chefs, this area of Tokyo is buzzing with people from all walks of life.
Having worked up an appetite lugging 50kg of fabric around, we headed to Heiroku Sushi in Omotesando first. I've been there a few times before as they serve one of my favourite foods, avocado maki.
On the way we saw these people dressed up and driving Mario Carts around the streets! This was already on our bucket list to do, but we didn't manage to get our international driving licences in time.
Unfortunately the sushi place seems to have gone downhill a bit and the sushi on the conveyor belt looked like it had seen better days. When I ordered my avocado maki, there was instant consternation between the staff and four members of staff were discussing whether it was possible to make a sushi roll with avocado rather than cucumber, and which colour-coded plate to put it on (each colour denotes a different price, and they all get added up at the end of your meal). In the end, I got my avocado maki but it was on a plate far more expensive than the other dishes.
We even had a baby cockroach crawl out of the tea dispenser drain on our counter! The waitress dealt with it immediately, but didn't seem overly surprised. Guess it's time to find a new sushi spot.
We shuffled along Takeshita Dori in the crush of people to the Daiso 100 yen shop. This shop is very famous as being one of the largest 100 yen shops in Tokyo, and is always very busy. You can find all sorts of weird and wonderful things in there, and Man's friends are in for some treats! Even I picked up a few goodies, plus some more Dr Yellow amd other train merchandise (mini Lego set, flashing pen and something Dr Yellow that I'm not quite sure what it is!).
No visit to Harajuku (for a non vegan) is complete without choosing a speciality crepe. There are loads on offer, and Man chose banana, custard and cream with chocolate sauce. Mmmmm.
Tired (and hungry, in my case), we headed to Ikebukuro station as I'd seen a place that does vegan ramen. It was super tasty, and flavoured with yuzu, a type of Japanese citrus.
An impromptu message to Susan Briscoe and we arranged to meet at the local sento - public bath - to enjoy our last evening in Japan together. In 15 years of coming to Japan I have never been to a public bath (blame body issues), but it was well and truly time to enjoy this facet of traditional Japanese life. Men and women are segregated, so we waved Glyn off and met up with him later after 2 hours of blissful relaxation and of course lots of girly gossip (which shall remain behind the sento curtains!).
Whatever was I worried about?! Women of all different shapes and sizes enjoyed the baths on their own and with friends, and it was immediately apparent that nobody stares or cares what you look like and you find yourself not staring or caring either. After squatting on plastic stools and giving ourselves a thorough scrub under the shower whilst casually chatting, we hit the baths.
This sento had everything including hot, cold, mineral, jet, outdoor and even electric(!) baths and we hopped in and out of each. You can take as much time as you like, but we had to meet up with Glyn and he was already waiting when we emerged, ready for us to choose the traditional milky coffee or beer in the foyer.
What a wonderful end to a very special trip, and the first of many more to come for Man. We are now safely back in Birmingham nursing our aching shoulders from all that fabric carrying!
we are social
I started Japan Crafts in 2006 and have been bringing wonderful fabrics and techniques to people in the UK ever since.