The day’s itinerary was to Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and spent the rest of the afternoon at Shibuya. It was almost like a shopping day.
Our first stop of the day was Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū) located next to the Harajuku Station. The shrine was completed and dedicated to Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the WWII but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.
Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan and 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. He was born on 3 November 1852 in Kyoto and ascended to the throne on 3 February 1867 at the peak of the Meji Restoration when Japan’s feudal state came to an end and the imperial power was restored. During the Meji Period, Japan modernised and westernised herself to join the world’s major powers by the time Emperor Meiji passed away on 30 July 1912 at the age of 59.
After spending a morning a Meiji Shrine, we stepped back to the modern world, Harajuku (原宿). I love this place, it exudes a romantic European feel. Unfortunately, the teens no longer dress up in cosplay on weekends as it is no longer in trend. Having said that, the place was still filled with energy and live.
Harajuku always reminds me of an old song that I used to listen when I was in primary school. It is a Cantonese song, Japanese Doll 日本娃娃, sang by Sam Hui 許冠傑. He is also the music composer and songwriter of this song. Sam Hui is the singer who popularised the Cantopop in the 80s and he is also a very talented musician and actor.
Shifting focus back to my trip. Harajuku offers the luxury brands at one side of the road and local fashion for the youngsters like Audrey at the opposite side of the road. Yeah, I could not help but notice my name, hanging in front of the store.
Besides shopping, the Harajuku Subway Station is the prominent landmark that cannot be missed.
Our final stop, Shibuya (渋谷), one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo, but often refers to just the popular shopping and entertainment area found around Shibuya Station.
Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s most colourful and busy districts, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs serving swarms of visitors that come to the district every day. Shibuya is a centre for youth fashion and culture, and its streets are the birthplace to many of Japan’s fashion and entertainment trends.
A prominent landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection, heavily decorated by neon advertisements and giant video screens and gets flooded by pedestrians crossing the road in an orderly manner each time the crossing light turns green, making it a popular photo and movie filming spot.
Looking at the photos, the intersection may seem chaotic but everyone was crossing the road in an orderly manner except for a few tourists here and there, myself included, who stopped in the middle of the intersection to take some pictures.
Miss the teen cosplay at Harajuku, no loss, we saw a bunch of men dress in cartoon characters on wheels at Shibuya. Perhaps we should do that next time.
Then we looked for the Hachiko’s statue, the loyal dog. Hachiko’s story dates back to the 1920s when he was brought to Tokyo in 1924 by the university professor, Hidesamuro Ueno. Every morning as Ueno headed off to work, Hachiko would accompany him to the Shibuya train station and would sit there patiently until the end of the day, ready to greet Ueno upon his return home.
In 1925, Ueno died unexpectedly at work — leaving Hachiko waiting, watching trains arrived and hoping to see Ueno that never come back. Over the next 10 years, Hachiko continued to wait each day for his master at the station until his own passing in 1935.
If you would like to learn more about Hachiko, watch Hachi, the movie based on his story (co-starring Richard Gere as the master). Do get ready your hankies and tissue papers. I could not stop crying, even when I watched it for the second time.
After three enjoyable days in Tokyo, we covered most of the key tourist spots and experienced the public transport system in Tokyo. Time to leave Tokyo.
We were advised by the hotel staff to take the Tokyo Metro instead of coach to the airport as there was a marathon run in the morning on the day of our departure. We arrived at the Higashi-ginza Tokyo Metro Station 15 minutes prior to the scheduled train arrival. The train arrived promptly as scheduled, not a minute early nor late. We were very impressed by the promptness and cleanliness of the Tokyo Metro service.
We sat in comfort and arrived at the Narita airport at the expected time stated in the schedule. As we did not get to eat ramen while we were in Tokyo, we grabbed a bowl of ramen at the airport lounge.
I am looking forward to being back in Tokyo and to visit Kyoto and Hokkaido.
Japan, till we meet again.
Thank you for stopping by, happy Living for Experiences!
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