Here is a short funny little story, that is somewhat embarrassing for me, but one that you may enjoy.
The first time I went to Japan, I had never been there before, so I was very excited. But given that it was my first time going there, I was quite keen to get some travel tips from other people as to what to see and do.
A few common suggestions were to ride a Shinkansen, eat some sushi, go to Asakusa, see Mount Fuji and sing some karaoke. Some less common ones were wrestle a sumo, fry some whale, and dress up in Anime.
I was actually quite interested in most, if not all of them, and I specifically asked a few friends for some recommendations of things to see in Tokyo that would be fun and unusual, but typically Japanese. A few scratched their heads, but on several occasions people said: “It sounds like you might be interested in visiting Harry Juku”.
I will now relate one conversation with a female friend on this topic.
Please note that what follows is what I heard and said, and the conversation was entirely in English, so I can’t blame the language barrier:
I said “Oh, ok, Harry Juku who’s he?”
She said: “Who’s who? What do you mean?”
I said “Well, why would I want to go and visit Harry Juku”.
“Well, everyone dresses up in anime, and cosplay costumes, and it’s really interesting”.
“What, at his place?”
“No, they are all over the place. In the shops, the restaurants, and just walking along the street”
I said “No, but where are they dressed up at?”
“At Harry Juku”
At this point I was a bit confused, and my friend was giving me strange but sympathetic looks as if I had just started eating with training chopsticks suitable for a three year old. I was however really interested and had learnt long ago that if you give up every time you are slightly bewildered by something Japanese you will never learn anything. And so on I plowed.
“But why are they dressed up?”
“I don’t know why, but people just get dressed up when they go to Harry Juku”
“Do they have to?”
“No, you don’t have to, but lots of people do, and it is really quirky and unusual”.
I must have still looked a bit dazed, or stunned (like the first time I tasted natto), because she then said:
“Look, you don’t have to go to Harry Juku, but I just thought if you wanted to see something a bit out of the ordinary, and something typically Japanese, it might be fun”
Trying to recover, I said, “No, no, I am interested. Just a bit confused.”
I paused, and then asked: “So, do you like Harry Juku?”
“Yes, I love Harry Juku. Every time I’ve been to Tokyo, I’ve made a visit. And it’s really easy to get there, as Harry Juku station is on the Yamonote line”
“What!!? He has his own station?”
At this point, exasperated, she said “What the heck are you talking about?”
I said “Harry Juku, the same guy you’re talking about”.
At this point, she looked at me, and just burst into laughter. Not a snicker, or a giggle. But a full on laugh in my face. In fact I’m pretty sure that if I’d dressed up as Pikachu and danced the can-can she would have laughed a bit less.
I won’t go in to any further details except to say this:
- I have now been to Harajuku. Many times in fact and I like it, if only as a strange Tokyo cultural experience.
- I have never met the mysterious Mr Juku, first name Harry or otherwise.
- My friend still laughs at me whenever this topic comes up.
That is all. The embarrassing story is now over.
Did you like it? Have you ever been to Harry Juku?