Lesson Transcript

Chigusa: 第十三回 文化レッスンでございます。ちぐさです。
Peter: Peter here and we are back with another Japanese culture class. As always, we are brought to you by Erklaren, the translation and interpretation specialists. Okay everybody, yes we got the emails, we got the posts and we got Chigusa back to answer all the questions and the posts. Yes, so many of you wanted to know more about Chigusa. So what we are going to do now is have Chigusa tell us more about herself. Chigusa お願いします。
Chigusa: はい。 Hi everyone, it’s Chigusa again. I was born in Los Angeles, California in 1980. I am 25 years old now. I’ve been in Japan since I was 5 years old and I live near Shibuya. It’s a district called Hiroo. It’s really near Shibuya.
Peter: Ah easy to remember.
Chigusa: Yeah it’s easy to remember Hiroo and I am really happy to work with Peter.
Peter: Oh Chigusa, we are really happy to have you here. So happy, you don’t know.
Chigusa: I am happy too, thank you very much.
Peter: Tell us more. What’s your favorite food?
Chigusa: My favorite food is 蒸しパン. It’s a Japanese word 蒸し means steam and パン is bread. Steam bread.
Peter: Steam bread.
Chigusa: It’s really popular here. You will have it everywhere in convenient stores, in bakeries. You will have it everywhere. It’s really good.
Peter: Okay there you go everybody. Chigusa’s favorite food.
Chigusa: 蒸しパン
Peter: 蒸しパン
Chigusa: 蒸しパン It’s really soft and sweet.
Peter: Okay how about your favorite place in Japan?
Chigusa: My favorite place in Japan is Shibuya.
Peter: Shibuya.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: So we picked a great topic for you last week.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Talking about home.
Chigusa: Yes home. I also like Kyoto.
Peter: Oh yes. I have only been once but yeah quite nice.
Chigusa: It’s really nice, traditional Japanese.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: Okay and how about your favorite color?
Chigusa: My favorite color is white.
Peter: White.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: All right. I think we covered a lot of the answers that people wanted to know. Okay so with that all answered, we have another very interesting location to talk about today. Chigusa, what are we talking about today?

Lesson focus

Chigusa: Today we are talking about Harajuku.
Peter: And what is Harajuku?
Chigusa: Harajuku is the center of fashion in Japan.
Peter: Possibly the world.
Chigusa: In the world, yes.
Peter: Yes so Harajuku. Why don’t we start with the location? Where is Harajuku?
Chigusa: Harajuku is just in between Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Peter: Yes and last week, we were talking about Shibuya. We will talk about Shinjuku in some upcoming weeks. Our goal is to cover the whole Yamanote line. Okay what’s the Yamanote line?
Chigusa: Yamanote line is a train that runs around Tokyo in a circle.
Peter: It’s a really unique concept to have a train just going around…
Chigusa: Yeah forever.
Peter: In a big circle, yes.
Chigusa: Circles and circles.
Peter: I guess that would be the cheapest place to stay in Tokyo.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: You could just get a ¥130 ticket and sleep on the train.
Chigusa: Yeah my friends do that all the time like they sleep for like 7 hours on the Yamanote line.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Why do they do this?
Chigusa: Well practically after clubbing and partying all night, they try to go home on the Yamanote line but fall asleep and when they wake up, it’s like almost 6 or 7 at night.
Peter: But the great thing about this is, it’s kind of like – it’s like human roulette. The ball goes around and round, you go around and round and no matter what station you get off at, when you finally wake up, there is great food.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Good drinks.
Chigusa: Good drinks.
Peter: And there is a chance that you might hit the jackpot and wind up back at Shibuya for another night.
Chigusa: Right exactly yes.
Peter: So there you go. If you are up for it, we recommend that human roulette on the Yamanote line. Just get on, go to sleep, wherever you wake up, that’s where you are going out tonight.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Thank you and your friends for introducing to this unique, unique game. Okay so we got Harajuku.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: So you know and our goal is to introduce you to a whole Yamanote tour because you can spend really – you know people can spend their whole lives exploring Tokyo. It’s just that fascinating with so much to do here. Today the ball stops at Harajuku. We get off at Harajuku. Last week, we got off at Shibuya, there was a big square, Hachiko square. Where do we get off at Harajuku?
Chigusa: Harajuku has two exits, one is for Omotesando and the other one is for 竹下通り or Takeshita street. You can go out both ways and you will find fascinating stories on both ends.
Peter: Okay. Let’s break it down a little more. Now two exits, two streets.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Give us the streets one more time.
Chigusa: One is Omotesando
Peter: Err…stop right there!
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: So what kind of level is Omotesando?
Chigusa: Omotesando is pretty fashionable and high class sort of.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: But the funny thing is it kind of starts out okay. It starts out you know, prices are reasonable.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: But the further you go, it seems…
Chigusa: Louis Vuitton, Chanel.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: Ralph Lauren, yeah the further you go, the more high class it gets.
Peter: And the more cash you need. So yeah.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: If you are staying close to the station, you will be all right.
Chigusa: You will be all right.
Peter: But if you don’t watch out, before you know it, you are going to be surrounded by stores that aren’t going to let you in unless you got some. I think you have to show your credit card at the door right?
Chigusa: Yes, yes no sneakers. Tuxedos only. It’s a joke.
Peter: And it was a good one but actually no there are some stores that won’t let you in if you have like shorts and things on. Or is that just Ginza?
Chigusa: Yeah that’s true. Some stores in Omotesando I think they won’t let you in if you are wearing shorts like short pants and like sandals, flip-flops.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: Yeah. So we will check that for you but I remember seeing this travel shoe and even the guy with the travel shoe. He had a travel shoe and he couldn’t get in the store.
Chigusa: Poor him.
Peter: Yep.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Yeah. His boss must have been angry. Where have you been in the store. Okay so the first part of the street starts out with – there is some clothing shops, some restaurants, some shops to eat at and then I think if you go straight and you hit the intersection, the Gap is there, no?
Chigusa: Yes Gap is there.
Peter: Yes and the Gap is not the Gap back home. The Gap here is a bit pricy right?
Chigusa: A little bit yes.
Peter: Back home, the Gap is like very, very reasonable.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Not here.
Chigusa: Not here. I used to work for Gap. I used to part time, yeah.
Peter: And would you say they are pricy?
Chigusa: A little bit yes, they used to be pricy.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: But they have good stuff.
Peter: Spoken like a true saleswoman.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Okay so we got that street. Now as we said, you walk down and then the stores get pricier and then they have the brand names and if you keep walking, it changes a bit more but you know, within the first kind of couple of hundred meters, that’s what you are going to find. Now let’s talk about the second exit.
Chigusa: Yeah the second exit is called Takeshita Street Exit and if you go out of the exit, the first thing you will see is the street. It’s really crowded and it’s a really thin, thin street with a bunch of stores and its all crowded and crazy.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And that’s definitely the street you want to check out.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: There is so much going on on this street. They have stores. Whatever you are into, they have the store. If you like gothic, they have gothic, you like hip hop, they got hip hop, you like preppy, they got preppy, you like old clothes, they got old clothes.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Just a ton of stores and it’s just one of the most unique experiences to walk down the street and see all these different trends and fashions on one street. Let’s have Chigusa and her lovely voice tell you about this.
Chigusa: Like exactly like you said, a bunch of stores, a lot of cheap, reasonable shops and another thing that’s famous is, they have crepes.
Peter: Ah yes.
Chigusa: Yes a lot of crepe stores and that’s what it’s famous for too.
Peter: Really? Famous for the crepes?
Chigusa: Yeah, yeah. Harajuku Takeshita Street is famous for the crepes. They are really good and they are like ¥200 to ¥400 about and you can get like a large crepe and you can just eat it while you are shopping.
Peter: Stores love that. Please go into Louis Vuitton. Buy a crepe before you go into the Louis Vuitton, they love that. I tried to go in without one once and they said, listen, go buy a crepe, come back. So okay, how do we say crepe in Japanese?
Chigusa: クレープ
Peter: Okay yes they are all over the place. The Japanese make a very, very good one, something you want to try and they are very, very popular here. Okay and take the advice from Chigusa, you want to get a crepe on…
Chigusa: Takeshita Street.
Peter: Again Shibuya has got the night life, they got the shopping. What does Harajuku, when is the prime time to go to these shops. Do we want to show up at Harajuku at 11 PM?
Chigusa: No.
Peter: Yes, no, no, no…
Chigusa: The shops close quite early at around 9 o’ clock. So you might want to go in the afternoon and shop till night.
Peter: Then take the train to Shibuya, get a locker and have a great night at Shibuya.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Okay so we got the afternoon. Now, which shops do you go to on Takeshita Street? Do you go or are you Omotesando now? Did you graduate to Omotesando?
Chigusa: I am trying to graduate Takeshita Street and move on to Omotesando, yes, yes but right now, I think I am just in the middle where they have a big department store called Laforet.
Peter: Ah!
Chigusa: It’s just in between Omotesando and Takeshita Street sort of.
Peter: For the people trying to convert.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: For the people moving up and for the people moving down.
Chigusa: Yes, yes, yes. It could go both ways. It’s a big department store and the funny thing is, the owner of this building is called 森さん.
Peter: Mr. Mori?
Chigusa: Mr. Mori and 森 in English is forced and in French, it’s Laforet.
Peter: Ah!
Chigusa: So that’s where they get the name Laforet.
Peter: I got it.
Chigusa: Yeah in Japan, this 森さん, Mr. Mori.
Peter: Yes Mr. Mori…
Chigusa: Is really famous and he owns a lot of buildings, just a bunch of buildings all over Japan and he is really famous for it and in Japan, if you say 森ビル Mori Building, it’s really famous. Everybody knows it because there are so many of them and Laforet is one of them.
Peter: I see.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: And it’s probably like since he named it after himself, it is probably one of his most prized possessions.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And the reason it is is this is like one of the fashion meccas. So many Japanese fashions start out here, correct?
Chigusa: Yes correct. A lot of Japanese brands like new designers, yeah they are all concentrated in one building and Laforet even has a driving range.
Peter: Inside?
Chigusa: On the top floor.
Peter: On the top floor?
Chigusa: On the top floor and they have like Golf lessons.
Peter: That’s really interesting. Is Laforet on your recommended sites to see in Japan?
Chigusa: Yes it also has a record store in it. So you can check out CDs, DVDs.
Peter: Lots to do at Laforet.
Chigusa: Lots to do, yeah.
Peter: Okay we kind of established a square.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: You get out – you can go out either way. You can go out to Omotesando. You want to go straight down. Once you hit the Gap, cut left because after the Gap, it’s just all uphill. Cut left and that’s where Laforet is, right?
Chigusa: Laforet is actually – its right in front of Gap before it gets expensive.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: It’s in the safe zone. We have the safe…
Chigusa: It’s in the safe zone, yeah. It’s in like Gap zone.
Peter: Like Gap zone.
Chigusa: The Gap zone.
Peter: Keep going left and you can cut back up Takeshita Street.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And then back to the station.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And that would be one square.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Right. So we got a little box.
Chigusa: Yes exactly.
Peter: You can wander around 竹下通り lots of backstreets in there and other stuff.
Chigusa: Umm yes the backstreets of Harajuku are also really famous.
Peter: And what are they called? They have a special name.
Chigusa: Yes it’s called 裏原宿.
Peter: Okay.
Chigusa: 裏 in Japanese is back and 原 stands for Harajuku. That’s where they have all the independent designer shops and like the really, really fashionable little stores.
Peter: Yeah the boutiques.
Chigusa: The boutiques.
Peter: And this is where the really famous fashion is born right?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: In these backstreets by these up and coming designers working 24 hours a day.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Selling stuff with their hands.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: And one unique thing has happened over time. You know during the 1980s, what kind of situation was it in Harajuku?
Chigusa: In the 1980s, all these young performers and really young kids started to do street performances where they did lives and dance all day and that brought all the other youngsters in Harajuku and it just invigorated the streets.
Peter: Yes and as we said, it’s not like you know, in other cities, you might have like a gothic section of town but the major thing is you have a gothic section on one street.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Then next door, you have hip hop. So you have everything on one street. You will see people dressed outrageously although that has decreased in recent years, right?
Chigusa: Right. A little bit but still there is a lot of crazy people walking around Harajuku. So you will never get bored just by looking at the people.
Peter: Yes. So you can do that.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And then if that’s not enough for you, you can head over to
Chigusa: Yoyogi Park.
Peter: Okay and what’s going on at Yoyogi Park?
Chigusa: Yoyogi Park is like a little central park in Japan and you have a lot of trees around but still you see young people playing guitar, singing, dancing, playing drums. There is a fountain, a lot of grass. You can just lie around, you can do whatever you want to.
Peter: Yeah so it’s a great break from the shopping, so…
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: You know, Harajuku is almost worth a full day.
Chigusa: Day…
Peter: Right?
Chigusa: Right. You can like even go to Yoyogi Park in the morning like have a little jog around, eat lunch like have a little picnic and go shopping.
Peter: Yeah look for a spare change to pay off your credit card because the money you will be paying when you are done shopping at Harajuku is going to be a lot of money.
Chigusa: Right but Yoyogi Park is really nice especially when it’s warm outside.
Peter: Yes and its getting warm…
Chigusa: Yes finally.
Peter: It’s been too cold. So finally, things are getting warm, spring is coming to life and then streets of Harajuku are alive.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: And it’s something you definitely want to see.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: Okay. So now, we got all that covered. What do you like in Harajuku?
Chigusa: In Harajuku, of course aside from all the fashion and stuff, there is a really famous shrine called the Meiji Shrine. It’s right near Yoyogi Park and that place is really nice, a traditional big Japanese shrine and I go there on 大晦日 the last day of the year.
Peter: New Year’s Eve.
Chigusa: New Year’s Eve and go there to make my New Year’s wish.
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: And it’s really filled up with people.
Peter: It’s packed at that time.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: But at least the trains are running 24 hours.
Chigusa: Right on New Year’s Day.
Peter: That’s really nice.
Chigusa: Yeah.
Peter: How do we say this in Japanese?
Chigusa: 明治神宮
Peter: Really it’s not 神社
Chigusa: It’s called 神宮
Peter: 神宮
Chigusa: 神宮
Peter: Wow!
Chigusa: Some shrines have 神宮 as their name.
Peter: Okay now, how many Chigusa stars are we going to give Harajuku.
Chigusa: Five.
Peter: Five?
Chigusa: Out of five.
Peter: Five out of five.
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: But your favorite place is Shibuya?
Chigusa: Yes but like considering the neatness and the range from the high quality, high class shops to the really cheap and fun ones and they have a forest, little forest like Yoyogi Park right in the corner and I give a 5 but still I like Shibuya but Harajuku is another really good city. And also you can walk from Harajuku to Shibuya. So…
Peter: How long would that take?
Chigusa: Just about 10 or 15 minutes. It won’t take you that long.
Peter: Really?
Chigusa: Yes and you can shop all the way too…
Peter: Yeah.
Chigusa: There is shops on the streets.
Peter: So you can actually walk, is it Omotesando, we take all the way?
Chigusa: No the street is called 明治通り Meiji Street.
Peter: 明治通り
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: All right.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: That’s another great piece of advice. We will have to definitely recommend it, yeah just a short walk if you don’t get lost.
Chigusa: If you don’t get lost.
Peter: But we have…
Chigusa: Well it’s a one way street. So really low chances you will get lost.
Peter: Leave it to me Chigusa. I can do it, I can get lost. Don’t worry but if you get lost, get our survival phrases, so you can get back on track, right?
Chigusa: Right.


Peter: All right. Okay Chigusa, thank you so much again.
Chigusa: Thank you too…
Peter: As always a pleasure.
Chigusa: Nice to talk to you too Peter.
Peter: You really light up the studio. Okay so that’s going to do it for today.
Chigusa: Right.
Peter: See you next week.
Chigusa: またね.