After hearing countless stories about how much we’d “lose our shit” shopping in Harujuku, there was a reason why we saved this adventure til last. Only 5 minutes on the Yamonote JR line (¥140) we really didn’t have to venture far today.
Before hitting the shops we took a detour to the Meiji Shrine (Tokyo’s most famous Shinto Shrine), which you can find across the bridge to the right of the station, you see the huge torii gate to the shrine straight away. It was a lovely walk through the forest, filled with tall green trees which looked quite eery in the morning drizzly haze.
About mid way through we came across two walls of decorated sake tubs and wine kegs, sake is traditionally seen as a connection between Gods and the people and every year the decorated sake kegs are offered to the enshrined deites of Meiji Jingu.
The Shrine was huge, with an inner and outer precinct. Before we entered the inner area we noticed a tradition Japanese Bride getting her hair done outside as the wedding party waited for photos. Once inside we realised it was a popular place for weddings and a procession seemed to pass through ever 20 minutes, it was captivating to take in the bridal party.
Like all the Shrines and temples we’ve visited thus far, we had to do one final fortune, and the stick that fell out for me was number 13, my lucky number (as if I needed more reason to believe in fortunes). These fortunes were super cute, they were Omikuji (poem drawings), a 31 syllable poem composed by the Emperor Meiji himself or his wife Empress Shoken, which is hoped to have a particular meaning for the reader, both Lauren and I felt ours were pretty accurate.
As we left the shrine passing through the gate by to Harajuku a japanese photographer who worked for some magazine or something asked to take mine and Lauren’s photos for some street style type feature, I wish I knew which publication he said so we could’ve tried to find them, he was very enthusiastic making us do certain poses and telling us we had been doing the kawaii peace sign all wrong and needed to raise our elbows higher than our hands…
Finally, shopping time in Harujuku… having seen so many pictures from this tiny street filled with unique stores it was incredible to see it in the flesh, and slightly overwhelming, actually almost like a kawaii version of Camden market. We found quite a few shops had a bright 90s kinda vibe, very quirky and also very busy – probably the most touristy place we’d visited on the whole trip. Some stores were small, others huge department kinda stores just filled with concessions, we were literally there hours. We didn’t quite make it to Harujuku Bridge where on a Sunday all the incredibly dressed fashion kids hang out, we did see a few up and down the shopping street though and everyone would ask to take photos of them, they’d be dressed in their own quirky mix of punk, lolita and anime characters.
Once you make it to the bottom of the narrow shopping street you hit the big name fashion stores, but we only had one shop on our radar… Kiddyland. Having been told how much I would lose my mind in this shop this was last for a reason, basically safe to spend all my remaining yen haha. A multi-story store dedicated to so much character merch and toys, each floor dedicated to few characters at a time; Sailor Moon, Rilikuma, Sanrio, Studio Ghibli, Pokemon, Moomins, Disney, literally the list was endless.
After a good hour in Kiddyland it was time for us to head back, we were so tired from all the shopping and still had to try get all our goodies into our cases once back at our apartment. On route back to Shinjuku I stopped off for one final Fruit Berry Crush and the barista actually spoke amazing English and wrote my name in Japanse on the cup as well as English… well I hope it’s my name anyway!
We took a detour back to the flat from the station to visit the free viewing floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It actually took us a while to figure out how to get up there due to some building work and little English to figure out the temporary route inside. The observatory is on the 45th floor of the building and offers completely free, 360* veiws of Tokyo from Shinjuku. Given it was 9.30pm the city was a vast ocean of glimmering lights, I honestly couldn’t recommend coming up here more. We did also want to visit the Park Hyatt Hotel from Lost In Traslation which is right by this building to visit the famous New York bar and it’s view, but given this gave us something similar without the overpriced cocktail and¥2400 cover charge, it’s definitely worth considering as an alternative if all you’re after is the view.
After the ordeal of packing up, we head back to Shinjuku Station around midnight and head to the Golden Gai, a small street famous for it’s intimate bars and eateries but sadly most places had began to close so we just found a small late night restaurant for an extremely late dinner whilst being heartbroken about leaving the exciting city behind.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip to Tokyo as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you, a few people mentioned that some of the information was really useful for their trips which has made it all worth while. I couldn’t recommend more that everyone should visit Tokyo at least once in their life, it really is another bright, crazy, happy world.
DAY 10 – SHINJUKU – SHEFFIELD
I thought to include a brief paragraph about returning to the airport on this blog post as it wasn’t worth it’s own. Our return flight left from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport instead of Narita where we flew in to. From Shinjuku Station as you cross the road on the west side you can get a direct bus to the airport for ¥1230 which took a little over 30 mins (they say it takes an hour but that’s probably allowing for traffic). The airport doesn’t have duty free bags to take on the plane, so the bottles of sake we bought ended up being confiscated on our layover in Germany… for anyone travelling out of Haneda it’s definitely worth checking if they have the duty free sealed bags before purchasing any liquid if it’s not a direct flight.