Shinjuku and Shibuya: famous Tokyo districts.
This Sunday’s schedule contained visits to the Shinjuku and Shibuya districts (and their surroundings). We started our second day of Tokyo around 10am. We took the bus to a nearby JR station and from there we went with the Keihin/Tohoku line and the Seikyo line to Shinjuku station.
Back in the air in Shinjuku
After leaving the station the decision was made to view to area from above first, so that meant we were going to the Metropolitan building first. This government building consists of two towers. Each of those towers has an Observatory on one of the top floors. From here you can see a big part of Tokyo.
We went to the North Observatory this time. On the top floor you can not only see a big part of Tokyo when you look outside the window, but you can also browse the small souvenir shop or have a drink or a (small) bite in the luxurious restaurant.
The views from the Tokyo Sky Tree are probably nicer than the views from the government building, but at least you do not have to pay to visit the top of the Metropolitan building, which is nice. I have not been to the Sky Tree yet, but that might happen somewhere in the future as well.
Yoyogi park and the Meiji Jingu
After going to the Observatory, we went to the Yoyogi park with in its center the Meiji Jingu (shrine). A couple of big paths will lead you through the park. Each path starts with a big gate at the entrance. After entering through the gate, you will need to walk for a short while until you will arrive at the Meiji shrine.
The gates itself are also very impressive because of their height. They are almost as high as the surroundings trees of the Yoyogi park.
If you want to visit the Meiji shrine, I would suggest you not to go there on a hot Sunday in September. There were lots and lots of people visiting the shrine. Last year I went to the shrine as well, but then there were less than 10 visitors. The shrine itself is quite nice, but unfortunately part of the shrine is under constructing now.
Along one of the paths in the Yoyogi park, you can find a wall of Sake barrels and a wall of Wine casks. These were donated to the park and shrine. The sake barrels are painted with different colors and designs. The colors make the wall stand out between the high trees of the forest.
The wine casks are less colorful, but it is still worth it to give the casks a closer look.
As surprised as we were when we saw the first wedding (on the first day of visiting Tokyo), we did not expect to witness another wedding. Especially not this soon! But nonetheless, when we visited the Meiji shrine, another couple was getting married. Congratulations, again!
This time the clothing was a little bit different, but the Japanese clothes are just beautiful to see. Although, I cannot understand the clothes that the bride is wearing: it does not look comfortable at all and they need help to walk up or down the stairs. As a bride, wouldn’t you want to be able to walk by yourself? But that is just my opinion. It still looks amazing!
Shop ’till you drop
If you want to do some serious shopping, you should visit Harajuku. It can be pretty crowded, but the stores are nice. You can buy everything from pancakes with ice cream and fruit to clothes. There is also a special cat- and owl cafe. There are brand stores and duty free stores as well.
Shibuya: so many people
Shibuya is one of the most famous districs of Tokyo (as far as I know). Apparently youngsters like to go out in Shibuya (I did not see that, but we were there in the afternoon) and there are lots of shops. Shibuya is a very busy district: it is almost impossible not to have a lot of people around you when the Shibuya crossing is close by.
The Shibuya crossing, the intersection in the Shibuya district, is right outside of the Shibuya station. Every time the lights turn green, people start walking down the street. The pedestrians fill up the entire intersection during those green lights. And not just once or twice, no, every single time the crossing is packed with tourists and locals that need to cross the road.
To have a better overview of the crossing, we went into the Shibuya station. If you take the escalator to the second level, you will have a great viewing point to watch all of the chaos.
Parade in Shibuya
Festivals can be found all year round in Japan. While we were in Shibuya, we saw part of the Shibuya Matsuri, a festival where a golden shrine (mikoshi) is paraded through the city. This so-called mikoshi is a small portable shrine that houses a god during a festival. These gods are from the Shinto religion, an old religion in Japan.
As such a mikoshi is not allowed to touch the ground, it needs to be carried or put on a special stand when people are not carrying it. The mikoshi is quite heavy, thus they need lots of people to carry it from one shrine to another. Even though carrying the shrine consumes a lot of energy, the people were smiling brightly. And not only smiling, the carriers were also jumping and dancing and yelling. It was fascinating to watch them being that excited about carrying the mikoshi.
We saw the first group around Harajuku street and after that we saw a second group near the Shibuya crossing. Here they were stopping for a short break (?) and they received some food. Now we were able to see their clothing, which was kinda weird (where did their pants go?).
Last but not least: The Netherlands in Tokyo
Right before we went back to Shibuya station, we walked by a beer bistro. A beer bistro itself is not that special, but this was a Dutch bistro! Always fun to see something of your own country and culture somewhere far away (even Dutch information!)!
Visited on the 25th of September, 2016