Day 4: Harajuku & Shibuya

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I’m finally getting used to the time zone change, I think. My sleeping patterns are edging ever closer to normal. At least waking up early affords me instant and uninterrupted use of the shared shower with plenty of hot water.

In any case, breakfast for me was just coffee and “melon bread” from one of the nearby convenience stores. I always hear about melon bread in anime so I was a bit curious about it. To be honest, it just tasted like sweet bread rather than melons, but it was still good. Katherine and Jr ate at Matsuya’s again.

By the way, some people may have not realized yet, but you can click on any of the pics I’ve posted to see a larger version of them :)

Once again, we hopped on the train to the famous Harajuku District, known as the place to see all the quirky Japanese teenager fashion. Our first stop, though, was Meiji Shrine, located within Yoyogi Park just opposite of Takeshita Street.

Left: one of the torii gates leading to Meiji Shrine. Top-right: a traditional wedding at Meiji Shrine. Bottom-right: Jr and Katherine poring over the menu at Yoyogi Restaurant.

The walk up to Meiji Shrine was really quite nice – so peaceful compared to the crowded and chaotic Takeshita Street (more on the later). It consisted of a walk through a forest, past two torii gates and across a little bridge. The shrine itself was a beautiful piece of architecture and we were fortunate to see a traditional Japanese wedding taking place. The bride was gorgeous.

We stopped for lunch at the nearby Yoyogi Restaurant. I had the fried seafood set – delicious!

My fried seafood set.

We backtracked a bit to visit Takeshita Street, known as the one particular street in Harajuku to find all your crazy fashion stuff. It’s also insanely packed and if we’re friends on Facebook, you might have already seen the video I posted of walking a short distance through there. We mostly just walked straight though and didn’t look at the stores too closely. The crowds make it difficult to stop and look, so you have to know what you’re looking for. Stopping also made it easier for us three to get separated.

Top: cute socks for sale on Takeshita Street. Bottom: a Lolita gathering.

To be honest, I was a tad disappointed that we didn’t see more people dressed up. We did see a large Gothic Lolita gathering and a few individuals around Takeshita, but very few others. Still, it was cool to see.

After, we walked over to Shibuya, which is right next to Harajuku. We were eager to see the Shibuya Crossing, a massive “scramble crossing” intersection. Quite literally, every time the crossing light goes green, hundreds of pedestrians fill the intersection from just about every direction. And when I say every time, I do mean every time. Thousands of people must pass through here every day.

We stopped for a break at the Starbucks, which has a viewing area of the crossing (no pictures allowed, though). I had a creamy lemon swirl frappaccino, a new menu item. I wonder if it’ll make its way to Canada or if it’s just a Japan thing.

Left: pedestrians at Shibuya Crossing. Top-right: an empty Shibuya Crossing, waiting for the green light. Bottom-right: Shibuya skyscrapers.

The only other thing in Shibuya I was eager to see was the Hachiko statue. If you don’t know the story behind it, then do read it on Wikipedia if you have a minute, especially if you like dogs. It’s a heartwarming story. We found it and took some obligatory pictures.

We made one more short stop in Akihabara at Jr’s request, just to browse some electronics and games. We also spotted another Gundam Cafe (there was another one on Odaiba), where there was a stall selling Gundam-shaped pastries. We obviously had one each. We went for the custard-filled ones and, yes, they were fun and delicious :) Too bad I’m not a big Gundam fan; I couldn’t identify the Gundam my pastry was shaped like.

My custard Gundam!!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty big anime fan, so Akihabara is a place I was really looking forward to. I’ll be returning to Akihabara later I my trip, though, so I can go crazy and buy a bunch of souvenirs! For now, though, it remains relatively unexplored.

So now, we’re back at the hostel and preparing for our departure tomorrow for Kyoto!

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