The Sacred, the Scary and Elvis

TOKYO — Today was a day of contrasts, starting with the scary before moving onto the scared. The scary came in the form of dancing Elvises. Who knew?

Hold on, we’ll get back to the dancing Elvises in a few.

We started the day gift shopping. I picked up a few souvenirs. Nothing big, but nothing I’m going to mention here because I don’t want to ruin any surprises. It was nice to see that they sell cheap crap here in Japan too. Perhaps the only difference is things here don’t seem to be made in China, even though it’s relatively close. No, many of the gifts are actually made in Japan. Imagine that.

After shopping, we went to lunch at Fujimamas where I enjoyed Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian dish that translates into rice friend. In addition to the fried rice, the dish included a fried egg, chicken and satay. The dish is often served at breakfast. It was a good lunch meal, but I’m not sure how it would go over at the start of the day.

After lunch, the scary started. We went to Harajuku to witness the so-called “Harajuku Girls.” If I understand this correctly, these girls dress up in costumes — characters from their favorite shows, cartoon characters, etc. — to garner attention. It was a bit bizarre, but intriguing to see the throngs of people taking pictures and capturing the scene. I guess their desire to be noticed worked.

In case that wasn’t enough, next, we headed over to Yoyogi Park to witness the spectacle of dancing Elvises. Yes, dancing Elvises. Not really sure about this one. Apparently, these guys get together every weekend and dance to 1950s music. All while dressed as Elvis — hairdo, leather jackets and all. Yes, you read this correctly. No, I can’t offer any additional explanation.

Nearby, a bunch of young women clads in 1950s era garb put on their own performance, at times dancing with the nearby Elvises.

So, there was the Tokyo street life experience. Then, we took a 180-degree turn to take in the sacred.

The Meiji Jingu Shrine is located just a few paces from Harajuku. The shrine was built in 1920 and is named after Emperor Meiji. We entered the shrine and walked down a long gravel path. The tree-lined walkway was tranquil and what I expected from a shrine.

The 175-acre shrine contains the souls of both Emperor Meiji — or the Meiji Emperor — and Empress Shōken. Emperor Meiji was Japan’s 122nd emperor and ruled Japan from Feb. 3, 1867, until his death on July 30, 1912. After his wife, the empress, died two years later, the Japanese wanted to honor the former leader and began raising funds to build the shrine. Though destroyed during World War II, the rebuilt shrine reopened in October 1958.

More later…

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About Todd DeFeo 1376 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and