Today was a very busy day. Probably won’t be able to write too much about it, because it’s almost 2am and I need some sleep.
I went to meet my friends Noriko and Nahoko in Shibuya. I really surprised myself by negotiating the train system successfully and finding the meeting spot without anything going wrong. The closest I came to making an error was when I went to the platform and hung around, waiting for the train as I would in London, before slowly realising that people were lining up in front of where the train doors would be and queued up behind them. When I got to Shibuya, I saw the statue of Hachiko (right), the dog who returned to the station every day in case his deceased master would come back. I then walked across the world famous Shibuya crossing to meet my friends:
We went to a nice little restaurant so they could have lunch (my internal clock is still a bit wonky so I wasn’t hungry) before having a look around Tokyo Hands, a department store with a very wide variety of interesting products to browse. We then walked to Yoyogi Park, which was very busy, before arriving at Meiji Jingū. The contrast between the bustling streets of Shibuya and the calm serenity of the Shinto Shrine was amazing. Although I’m not a religious person at all, it was easy to see why a place like that would bring peace and comfort. I adored the method of praying (throwing a coin, bowing and clapping twice) and we were lucky enough to see a traditional wedding taking place while we were there.
From the shrine, we walked through Harajuku where we saw lots of teenagers wearing the clothes of whichever of the diverse sections of youth culture they belonged to. Particularly striking were the Gothic Lolitas, dressed like Victorian dolls. We had a browse in the children’s department store Kiddyland, where we saw as many Hello Kitty toys as you could possibly imagine and then walked to the restaurant to meet with our friend Sumie. The four of us enjoyed some very nice pizza in a really sweet little restaurant.
After the meal, Noriko and I headed back to Shibuya to find one of her favourite bars, but it was closed. Not sure where to go for a couple of drinks, we consulted my Lonely Planet guide, but the map wasn’t detailed enough to be useful. Instead, we went to another bar which apparently the Super Furry Animals always visit when they’re in Tokyo. It was a great little place (and little is the right word, it could probably only seat about 10 people) hidden away down some stairs in a side street. It was a really good night but I had to head back to the hotel. The trains finish at about the same time as the tube in London, but as Noriko pointed out, we have the back-up of the night bus in London, but not here.
I managed to find my way back to the hotel despite the station exit I’m familiar with being closed. Here’s the massive clock tower I mentioned yesterday, which helped guide my way back to the hotel. I also managed to buy a bottle of cola from a shop on the way and even managed an “Arigato” – oh so proud of myself. Yes.
Tomorrow is Odiba – should be some very interesting pictures from there!