Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Day Tour of Tokyo

On our next day in Tokyo, we focused our sightseeing on a different part of the city, following an itinerary given to us by Brett, one of our friends in Korea. It took us to the charming gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen Park, then to a Shinto shrine dedicated to deified spirits, and finally to the crowded metropolis of Shibuya.

This is Shinjuku Station, supposedly the busiest train station in the world, though it didn't seem especially crowded when we were there.
Having said that, some of the trains were pretty packed.
About a ten minute walk from the station is Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks.
Most of the cherry blossoms we've seen are only just starting to blossom, but some others are already in full bloom.

The Japanese Garden.

After leaving the park, we took a train to nearby Harajuku and visited the Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Endless sake barrels.

At the shrine, many people left these ema, which are votive tablets containing people's prayers and wishes.

After the peace and serenity of the shrine, we walked to nearby Shibuya, another one of Tokyo's busiest and most bustling areas.
It's perhaps most famous for this scramble crossing, which periodically stops vehicles in all directions and allows pedestrians to cross in their hundreds.

The Starbucks overlooking the crossing allows for a great view.

We drunk some lattes while we did some people-watching.
Here I am, wandering back and forth among the crowds.

After having fun with the famous intersection, we decided to explore some of the avenues that branched off it.
First we found a pet store.
Possibly the saddest kitten.

Then we explored Shibuya 109, a huge department store for women, with each shop representing a different fashion style.

More explorations of Shibuya.

We later returned to Harajuku, as we'd forgotten to check out some of the chic, fashionable streets it has to offer, such as Takeshita Street.

Kiddy Land, a toy store with several floors to explore.

In the Star Wars section we found these wonderful creations: Lightsaber Chopsticks!
Couldn't resist buying some for myself and using them for dinner later that evening.
After dinner, we returned to Shibuya to see it at night, when it's all lit up like Times Square.

After a long, exhausting day, we headed back to our hostel to have a few drinks and unwind.
So far, we're enjoying exploring this busy city. Nothing as yet has really blown us away or anything, although I think part of the reason is that it's all so similar to Seoul (where we've been living for the last year and a half) which lessens the impact. We know it's unfair to compare the two, because we're only in Tokyo for a few days, and naturally we're biased towards Seoul, but we can't help finding a lot of things we preferred in Korea. Still, I like the people here (who seem much more polite and helpful than in Seoul - no pushy ajummas!), it's a lot less congested and smoggy, and the food seems good. We're excited to explore outside Tokyo, since we know from our time in Korea that a country can change a lot once you leave the capital. Expect a little of that in the coming posts!

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