Tokyo had revealed to me just how exhausted I was after all our crazy backpacking. I was almost never able to make it for any of our morning group plans in Tokyo. All I wanted to do was sleep, sleep and sleep some more. I recall Mouna asking me, “Did you come to Japan to sleep?” Death..My friend has a way with words. So I took my Tokyo trip into my own hands and decided that I was not going to let this be an expensive sleeping trip, but really take advantage of the fact that I was in Tokyo – Tokyo of all amazing places with Natsuno as our fabulous tour guide, and I was going to explore the city.
I spent a few days wandering around Harajuku – the home of Tokyo street fashion. A long walk down Takeshita street – revealed lots of fascinating and amusing people and shops.
I spent a lovely afternoon visiting the Meiji shrine – Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine dedicated to the late 19th century emperor who opened Japan to the West. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. In the Edo Period (1603-1867), the site had belonged to the Kato family and Ii family, both feudal lord families. In the Meiji era, the shrine was built in 1920 at the site and the inner garden – Yoyogi garden.
I marveled at the 40 foot high gate at the entrance to the 200 acre park Meiji shrine is in. The gate is made of 1500 year old cypress…..Japan must have the most polite termites….you’re telling me wood can survive that long?
I wondered about the hundreds of wine barrels near the shrine. Turns out that Emperor Meiji who had embraced western culture, was a lover of wine and particularly loved wine from the wineries in Burgundy.
When I finally got to the shrine, I enjoyed the tranquility of it. It was very understated compared to Akasuka shrine that I had visited only a few days back. Everything was more moderate. There was the budhaa with the two angry genies next to him to chase away evil spirits. There was a little place where coins were dropped into for good luck. There was smoke and incense.
I also spent half a day at Akihabara – the gadget/tech part of Tokyo.
In the evening me and my roomies walked to roppongi hills – a really popular area with great restaurants, an amazing club scene etc. and enjoyed a calm dinner in a really great restaurant before walking back home and calling it a night.