Finally, it was the 31st of December 2014 and we had to decide what to do for the new year’s celebration and in a city as large as Tokyo there are a lot of possibilities.
It is a custom in Japan, we learned, to go to temples in the new year, hatsumōde, the first shrine visit of the year. We decided to follow the local tradition and we stayed with hundreds of people in Meiji jingu.
Shibuya Crossing during the day on the 31st of December 2013
But before the night we decided to wander around. We went to Shibuya where we stayed most of the morning shopping and relaxing.
Near sunset we went to Ueno park to enjoy the view. It seems kind of pointless, to see the city during the day and then trees at night. We had different priorities at that time and I think mom had not seen the shibuya crossing yet.
Ueno park at the end of the day
Some cool anime goods in Yodobashi Ueno.
When we were ready to go, we took the Yamanote line to Harajuku, we walked Takeshita dori and Omotesando Hills. There were so many people there at that time but we still were able to enjoy the nice lights and the street food stalls that had been set up on the way to Meiji jinju.
Okonomiyaki stalls on the way to Meiji jingu
Once there, we waited our last hours of the year queuing with other people. Everything was very well organized. There were signs everywhere, police to guide people and a very very calm mob of people. Just this was already incredible.
At some point, it was midnight, people were moving towards the main hall of the temple and very politely making their new year wishes and resolutions.
We had bought a champagne bottle, very European of us, and afterwards we sat down at some tables and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Making prayers at Meiji Jingu
In the end, we took the Yamanote line back to Shinagawa and walked all the way to our home because there was no Monorail at that time. We were tired, happy, fulfilled and excited for the new year coming.
I was very very grateful and very humble in my requests at this time. This was such a happy moment in my life.
Harajuku Station on the 1st of January 2014
I don’t have much to add about Shibuya at this point, I can leave the maps here for references on places to see and walk. Starbucks I forgot to mark but its right there next to the crossing. It’s a great place from where to see it, if you manage to get a place to sit.
Ueno park is a very good destinations during the day. There are a lot of museums and you can even walk around the lake. It’s very nice in October when leaves start to change color and fall but also during Spring time when it is considered one of the best places on Tokyo for hanami, the cherry blossom viewing.
Always crowded, Harajuku and Omotesando are great for shopping, with many brand shops. I did not venture far beyond the average shops and streets. I can add that the festival food stalls were lining up from omotesando, up the street to the entrance to Meiji jingu.
Basically this is the path along which people were lined. We were walking slowly towards the main Hall and then came out through the Hall of Shinto music and dance. In the end we had our drinks sitting down somewhere halfway towards the station.
View of Tokyo map for this trip
Green for the Yamanote line, Blue for the monorail and Red for our path, a mix of walking, monorail and train.
What would I do differently
Obviously I would go back to the Ueno park and make sure I see it with the time and daylight it deserves. But on that day we were meeting a friend and we ended up relaxing in starbucks a little bit more.
I know I am revisiting a lot of places with these posts… Before starting the Tokyo section I wonderer what would be the best strategy for this… should I have organised it differently?! Perhaps. I revisited my old posts and I wish I could reedit all of them.
There are only 3 more days in Japan and the next one was Asakusa and Odaiba. for once, a day well planned!
Thank you for keeping up, I’m glad to be back! Hope everyone is doing well.
See you next time! じゃねー!