Having reoriented myself from Takeshita dori, we crossed Meiji Street to a landmark I remember — the Birkenstock Store. It’s in a flat iron shape, with the street forking off.
The fork on the east side is Harajuku Street. I remember walking down this stretch and thinking that the buildings didn’t seem very interesting.
One or two intersections up, looking to the right, is a strange building at the end of the street.
Design Festa Gallery always amuses me, with the nearly-random pipes on the front facade of the building.
Since I’ve been to the gallery before, I decided to start on the upper floors for a change. The murals on the stairwell walls are entertaining.
We were greeted by two Japanese girls, who asked us to rate our favourite student paintings of the day.
Rating the paintings might have been easier if we could read and write Japanese. We did our best to indicate the ones we liked.
The Design Festa Gallery is a modest space, where artists at varying levels of development can show their work.
Some more mature artists are more confident with larger works.
Beyond paintings, some artists prefer alternative materials, such as fabrics.
The Japanese and western styles of art sometimes get mixed.
On the main floor of the gallery is a cafe where visitors can grab a coffee or tea.
On the first floor, portraits filled one of the small rooms.
Through the sliding doors out onto the back porch, a sign pointed to the newer second gallery.
Between the two wings is a cafe that specializes in okonomiyaki.
Getting to the front entry of the east gallery requires squeezing past a fire escape.
The Design Festa Gallery east has a large open space on the ground floor, with a room and smaller spaces upstairs. On this trip, there was a private showing, so we moved on.
Just south of the gallery was a lane back to formal entry.
Looking up, the lantern suggests that this is a restaurant, but it wasn’t open this early.
As I bicyclist, I notice what other people ride. This would seem to be a serious rider, with two water bottles on the back.
Further south, Cat Street has a better paved road where in front of the clothing shops.
I don’t think that I’m sufficiently trendy to enter some of these clubs.
I was amused at the borrowed Americana with a restaurant built into an Airstream motor home.
To cross over Omotesando, we climbed up onto the overpass.
Looking east, we could see Oriental Bazaar, which is known for Japanese-made (i.e. not made-in-China) products, good for gifts. Marianne’s suitcase was already full, so it wasn’t a major attraction for us.
As we headed back, I noticed another bicycle, this time more distinctive in style than function.
After wandering around Harajuku Street some more, we decided to have a quick lunch at Rommy before heading to the airport.
Rommy is a modest restaurant, and might be family run.
There’s barely enough room in the kitchen in the back for one cook.
From the options on the brief menu, I picked the burger and egg with spaghetti. In the west, we wouldn’t have included the miso soup and rice, but in Japan the combination works.
As we exited the restaurant, I noticed the metal tiles on the ground by the threshold
As we walked back on the major street, we noticed two girls sitting in a see-through truck. I didn’t realize until later that these were the musicians Vanilla Beans, in one of their promotional stunts.
Crossing back over to the west side of the street on the overpass, we got a good view of the Harajuku plaza, without many of the cosplay teenagers I’ve come to expect.
The plaza does seem to be a good location to meet up with friends,
We headed back into the Harajuku train station for a brief stop to pick up luggage at the hotel, and then on to the airport.
The Design Festa Gallery and Harjuku are a regular stop on every visit I make to Tokyo. The energy of the young always perks me up.