Well, I mustered up my courage today and braved the trains alone, and to my surprise, it was a piece of cake. I only got turned around once, and the worst that happened was that i went up some stairs, down some stairs and ended right back where I started. Today, after I dropped in on the neighbors, as they decorated the portable shrine for next weekends festival, I made my way to Harajuku and was stunned. As soon as you get off the train, there is a street stretching out in front of you that harbors tons upon tons of people, clothing stores and crepe shops. It was certainly an experience, and though I went to find the cosplayers at the bridge, I ended up going down that street and a few others before arriving at my destination. The place was full of people, mostly tourists, as the bridge where they hang out leads to the entrance to the Meiji Shrine, I was disappointed to see that I was too early for my cosplayers. There were only a handful there at noon, but more were on the way as I left. I also strolled down to the shrine, but didn't go all the way in, as I didn't want to battle the tourists. It was a beautiful walk though, and you're surrounded by forests (Pics can be seen in my new Harajuku Ebisu folder on Photobucket). Btw, to get to either the shrine or the bridge where they cosplay, make an immediate right when you exit the station and just keep following the road, never crossing the street.
It was a nice bit of exercise, but I finally gave up and got back on the train and went back to Ebisu, which I can imagine being my favorite place here in Japan. It is elegant and so beautiful and I love it. This time I managed to take some pictures, but it was busy with families with little kids, so I didn't get many good ones. I meandered around there for a while, noting that on the left of Ebisu Garden Place is a department store/mall that has VERY expensive stuff inside. Maybe for another day when I'm less sweaty. Word to the wise, when you get off at Ebisu, take the East Exit. If you take the west exit it'll drop you onto the street outside, whereas you need to get to the Skybridge which will take you to Ebisu Garden Place. Good peice of advice.
Also, another few bits of advice. If you've ever entertained the idea of driving here, perish the thought. If you don't get completely run over by speedy drivers, you'll get irrevocably lost (Tokyo's streets aren't numbered consistently and aren't on a grid system like us, thus they all have GPS in their cars). If you're European, you'll be used to driving on the left side of the road in the right side of the car, but many streets are just barely big enough for a car and are one way, and if you get lost, there are no parking spaces to park and go in to ask for directions. Another piece of advice is, if you go to Harajuku to see the cosplayers, remember to ask if you can have their picture, as some of them don't want their pictures taken. (How to ask is: "Shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka?")
I also went to an electronics store, which was amazing, but sells the same stuff that we have at home, at a slightly higher cost (Laptop is $1300). And I did battle with my microwave. It would appear that our microwaves in the US are stronger than here, as it took 3 min. to heat one pancake thing. It kept making a scary noise for a while after that, but it's stopped now, so that's good right? Well, anyway, if I can think of anything else, I'll post it, and until then, see you later!