Our third day started with several historical parts of Tokyo, that brought to mind the old days of Japan. The first of these, the Meiji temple in Harajuku.
Harajuku station from above Meiji Jingu will be on your left and Takeshita dori on the right.
One of the most famous temples in Tokyo hides behind the Harajuku station amidst the dense Yoyogi Park. Named after the era that followed the shogunate, was built in 1920 to honour of the Meiji emperor and his empress. This was the first Emperor of the Meiji restoration, which marked the beginning of the modernization of Japan.
The large Torii gate leading to the shrine
When we entered the park, we walked the beautiful path passing through a big torii gate and leading up to the temple’s Main hall. This was a perfect and beautiful walk in the morning.
The main hall is impressively big and it’s best seen when there is just a few people there. The two gigantic trees inside really make the place even more special.
Tokyo Station a reconstruction of an old style building
From Meiji Jingu, we took the Yamanote line to Tokyo station and from there we walked to see the old Edo castle. We passed by a small fountain park surrounded by amazingly tall company buildings. This is definitely an impressive area with buildings tall as I had never seen before, how many people could be fitted inside working… unbelievable!
After the fall of the shogunate these castle grounds became the place of the Imperial Palace, where the Imperial family still currently resides. The original Edo Castle has long been destroyed and the current area is only a fragment of what it once was.
Shy view of Edo castle tower and moats
But even after the war and the reconstruction process, you can still see the impressive moats and the beautiful surrounding of the area. It must be really nice inside, but we did not visit, i think that maybe it was closed at that time, because it was the 26th of December.
[ Just realised I forgot that on the previous posts! On the 24th of December after being on Shibuya Crossing we went back to Shinagawa, bought two small cakes at the convinience store and had our special dinner home together. It was the most memorable Christmas so far, we were really happy, but did miss the family ].
Historical Shinbashi station
From Edo Castle we walked around until we got to Shinbashi. This is an old area, with a lot of night entertainment and restaurants. It is known as the first Tokyo railway terminal in the Yokohama line in the 19th century.
The Nippon Sharyo C11 292 model steam train from 1945
Here you can find an old Steam Locomotive placed in the middle of a plaza, that is decorated throughout the seasons and a popular meeting spot in Shinbashi.
Shinbashi back streets
Custom here is the Japanese salary man eating and drinking, in this entertainment area more focused on men. You can find tight back streets with countless of restaurants. A really interesting place to go out if you are looking for those small restaurants with fatty food that goes really well with alcohol.
Ginza at night
This area has been connected to expensive goods even since the 17th century when the activity of silver coin minting was established here, during the Edo period. Since that time it has grown as an example of Japan’s modernization and has become a luxurious place for those with exquisite taste.
Evidence of expensive shop!
Streets here are filled with boutiques, galleries and expensive restaurants. A place where we definitely just wandered around and imagined what it would be like to have such a big amount of money.
Once more, all of the four places we visited can be found along the Yamanote line and again the best thing here is to get that one day JR travel ticket or the Japan Rail Pass.
In Yoyogi park, located just behind the Harajuku station, you can also visit the inner Garden, and experience a traditional Japanese garden as well as the General Kyomasa’s well, one of those places that is thought to bring good fortune.
I’ve seen some webpages saying that you can visit this place in an hour. You sure can, but why would you? Why would you leave this green luscious place in a hurry? Just come here and stay here for a while, it deserves your attention more than concrete buildings, at least in my opinion.
Edo castle, or better, the imperial grounds, are accessible just 5/10 minute walking from Tokyo station. Be sure to take the exit away from Marunouchi and Nihonbashi and also do check for those guided tours inside. It really depends on how much time you have and how much you want to visit, just bear in mind that there are days of the year the tours do not run and they may need advanced booking.
I cannot say much more than this, because we just walked slowly along the area outside and took a lot of pictures.
I first heard about Shinbashi in a program on NHK, it mentioned it’s history with men entertainment, but it also seems a lively place with simple places unlike Ginza or Roppongi. To me this would be a better place to have a dinner out. However, I cannot blindly vouch for it to solo girl travellers.
Do any of you have some input in this? Leave a comment maybe you can correct me and help others on this.
There is a small museum in the area of the Old Shinbashi Station where you can learn more about this area, maybe it can be a nice place to visit.
Ginza, much like Roppongi does not draw my attention because it is a place that has nothing to do with me. However it can still be really cool to walk around, I can recomend at least the UNIQLO shop, for budget clothes, and the Itoya stationary shop, supposedly a paradise for stationary addicts ( like me ). I saw images of this shop and automatically though that I was glad I did not know about it, otherwise I would have become a person with much less money! Sorry, now you know…
What would I do differently
Well, honestly this was all planned wrong!
Meiji Jingu should be visited in a whole morning with a bento box prepared for lunch. Then you should go belly full and shop ’till you drop in Harajuku. For snacks, you should go to Sweets Paradise and then walk those calories off up Omotesando and then walk for a night out in Shibuya.
Sorry guys, only girl advice there (cakes and shopping)… But oh well, there is a lot of male fashion in Japan, a lot more than in Portugal at least.
Edo Castle should be visited on another morning and maybe after Nihonbashi. Ginza is better for late night, those expensive shops have some very impressive light decorations, however you can also do it in the afternoon and then have dinner at Shinbashi.
This is definitely the plan I should have followed!
Oh well, I am afraid that this is becoming little bit too predictable, but the next post will still be about Tokyo. This next time, we visited Ikebukuro, a temple in Shinjuku featured in the “Lost in Translation” movie and ended our day in the Tokyo skytree.
Hope that this can still motivate you to read more next week. Thanks for reading! じゃねー!