Right after the earthquake and tsunami, and after the nuclear crisis made itself clear, Japan put itself on austerity alert, mood-wise and electricity-wise. Tokyo pulled back on the street lights, building lights and its blinding commercial lights. When I arrived two weeks ago, it didn’t seem too dark. And now, it feels even less dark.
People’s spirits also seemed to have bounced back a bit. It helps soothe the anxiety when jumbotrons feature a seeming never-ending playlist of keep-hope-alive-Japan performances by pop stars.
The shops are also coming back alive with a pre-March 11 vibe.These young women I spoke with at the vertical mall known as Shibuya 109 are concerned about what’s happening to the thousands of displaced families in northern Japan. And they’re worried about radiation. But they also have a job to do: selling looks to the high-school girls looking to get their fashion on.The big celebrity role models here are Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Victoria Beckham. You want to look like one of them? On one of the many floors of Shibuya 109, they’ll hook you up. There are more than 100 shops with names like Shagadelic, Redlips, Miel Crishunant, and Love Girls Market. And the shopgirls can’t wait to show you what their particular boutique’s look is all about. And the beat goes on.