Imagine a music festival, the post-Christmas sales at David Jones, a Wiggles concert, the Clipsal and Australia Day at the beach all rolled into one and you will begin to approach a slight understanding of what Yoyogi Park on any given Sunday from April to October is like.
The crowd is just as diverse and it is just as insane.
Tamago and I unwittingly and delightfully stumbled across this phenomenon only recently. Up until now, it has been the dead of winter in Tokyo (see earlier blog post) so we haven’t been venturing out much. But at long last the weather has finally turned and we have had some days where the top has been in the double figures! We decided to take advantage of the sunshine and have a relaxing picnic in Yoyogi Park.
Or so we thought.
We emerged from the packed train and were immediately gobsmacked by the sheer amount of bodies in such a small space. Harajuku station was a zoo and Takeshita Street (the main drag) was ridiculous. We shoved our way through to Tamago’s favourite takoyaki shop (if you want to know what takoyaki is click here) and spent a fascinating 15 minutes standing in line watching the deft hands of the shop owners make hundreds of takoyaki. Of course when we started waiting in line, we only wanted four, but by the time we got to the front of the line we ordered 16. I’m sure there’s some kind of exponential maths equation that could explain this. Something like time spent waiting multiplied by original number desired to the power of the deliciousness of the smell.
Anyway, that mission completed, we clutched our takoyaki like a trophy and slowly made our way to Yoyogi Park. The first thing we saw was this:
Yes. Rock and rollers in the park. They didn’t seem terribly organised. There was no performance per se and no routine to speak of. They were just dressed up and boogieing down. Completely assured that they were contributing to the general happiness of everyone else. And they sure were.
We made our way into the park and found a patch of lawn to sit on. Being gaijin, we hadn’t got the memo about bringing a picnic blanket. But also being gaijin, that didn’t really phase us. We plonked down amongst hundreds of groups of people sitting on blankets, eating, playing games and just revelling in the sunshine.
Women in incredible outfits that I would only wear to job interviews were slipping off their stilettos and plonking themselves onto blue tarps. Young men were skipping with giant skipping ropes. Mothers and sons were playing badminton. It was awesome chaos.
After we finished our takoyaki, Tamago and I took a stroll through the park and soaked up the atmosphere.
Space is at a hugely high premium in Tokyo so people tend to get together with recreational groups to practice in the park because it’s free! We saw girls doing baton twirling routines on a bike path, old men practicing kendo under the cherry blossoms and even a bunch of people dancing in a thick clump of trees in strange Rocky Horror-esque costumes and filming the whole proceedings.
Japan is weird. This is not news.
We wandered past some stunning flowerbeds:
Plus a couple of dog parks. We spent a good 20 minutes gawking at the dogs and deciding which one we would most like to dognap. The highlight for me was the man with two Saint Bernards. To state the obvious: these are freaking enormous dogs. Like, you need a small farm to have one in Australia. So the million dollar question is: WHERE IS HE KEEPING THE SAINT BERNARDS WHEN THEY’RE NOT AT THE PARK??
Possibly the coolest part of our afternoon in Yoyogi Park was this:
That’s right. He’s holding a giant bubble wand. Kids and adults alike were going nuts. As far as we could tell, the bubble man was not getting paid for this service. He was just in the park making bubbles for the masses. What a champ.