The beauty of traveling to another land is having an opportunity to experience different sense of freedom. A moment, although deemed as temporary allows you to be free from your obligations or problems. The perfect time to find inner peace and solitude. Maybe just to close your eyes, feel the wind and reflect your life. Sounds cliché?
No, nothing feels better than to let go for a while and just be at ease. Do not be trap in a bubble where society dictates what you should think, do or feel; or let problems, concerns, and challenges overwhelmed your reality. Well, that freedom can be refreshing.
This trip to Japan was more than the conference or the sight-seeing, it gave me the chance to be lost, be at awe and just be myself for a while.
Tokyo is a big city with plenty of things you could experience and see each day. Although I had five days to explore, my time was still limited as I devoted most of the time attending the conference. Nevertheless, one should always make most of the time available. I literally spent all my free time exploring Tokyo! I do not know how I survived for that week with only three hours of sleep per night (or morning) but the vibrancy of the city was all I needed for energy.
Aside from all the trappings you would normally find in cities, Tokyo has its own quirks with multiple personas that abound in different sides of the place. One moment, it is subdued then the next is eccentric, especially when it comes to people or happenings that you encounter.
For instance, I was intrigued with the stark contrast of men in corporate attire walking in the same streets alongside young people geared in the latest Lolita fashion. In midst of tourists scrambling to get photos, it was nice to see how the day unfolds for the locals.
The subway is also an interesting place to be in as you come across interesting people. In early mornings, drunk people sprawled in different kinds of fashion while, well-heeled ladies would walked past, like this small concrete space was their runway.
Five days went on so fast.
Shibuya is one of the shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo. It is also regarded as one of the busiest areas of Tokyo wherein thousands of locals and tourists alike visit the night clubs, shopping centers, karaoke bars and restaurants located in the area. Shibuya is also considered as the center of pop and youth culture, as one can marvel at the abundance of trendy fashion boutiques and entertainment clubs.
As I’m not an avid shopper, I skipped going to all the department stores. For the benefit of the people who loves shopping, Shibuya is a maven for all the types of shoppers. Department stores such as Shibuya Hikarie, Seibu, Tokyu and Shibuya 109 are filled with merchandise for all shoppers to choose from.
While in Shibuya, it is impossible to miss the Hachiko statue. The statue was put up in honor of Hachiko, an Akita Inu remembered for his undying loyalty to his owner. Hachiko would go to Shibuya station every day to await the return of his owner, Professor Hidesaburo Ueno.
Professor Ueno suffered cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the station. For nine years, Hachi continued to arrive at the station at the precise spot and time he always meet Ueno. When Hachiko died, his monument was erected beside the grave of his beloved master. His remains can be found in National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.
Another famous landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection adjacent to Shibuya station’s Hachiko Exit. As you join the throngs of people that cross the intersection, you will be dazzled with the abundance of neon billboards, giant video screens and just the busy frenzy of Shibuya Crossing.
Just a short walk from Shibuya, it is also a must to visit Harajuku. Harajuku is center for Japan’s eccentric teenage culture and fashion styles. It is the home of Takeshita Dori, a street lined by many fashion boutiques, specialty shops and crepe stands which are famous among the trendy youth in Tokyo. Despite being a non-shopper, I had a good time browsing shops which displayed kawaii (cute), Lolita fashions to detailed Goth costumes.
If you go there on weekends, you will see plenty of teenagers dressed in eccentric costumes or their cosplay outfits which resemble punk musicians and anime characters. Not only that, this is also one of the perfect spots to see the sartorial street style of Japan where young adults can be seen wearing attires that adhere to various subcultures such as Lolita, Gyaru and Ganguro.
OMOTESANDO & MEIJI SHRINE
If you prefer upmarket shops, Omotesando is just a short walk away from Takeshita. The tree lined avenue is home to Omotesando Hills, a shopping establishments which houses upmarket shops, cafes and restaurants. Popular designer boutiques can also be found in Omotesando.
After a quick visit to Omotesando, I made my way to Meiji-Jingu. Who would have thought that a lovely shrine was located between busy shopping districts?
The entrance to the shrine is marked by a torii gate. Then, you would have to walk through a tranquil forest before you get to the shrine grounds. The spacious, forested walking trail offers a relaxing stroll amidst the busy city.
Meiji-Jingu is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Hundreds come to the shrine daily to make offerings at the main hall, buy charms and amulets or write wishes through ema or omikuji.
What’s the perfect way to cap off the day?
Japan actually has buildings which are entirely dedicated for karaoke. Imagine a seven-floor building with only karaoke rooms inside.
Cheers to an amazing day!
The following train lines can be accessed in Shibuya station.
Saikyō Line / Shōnan-Shinjuku Line
Keio Inokashira Line
Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line
Tokyu Toyoko Line
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line
Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line
HARAJUKU & MEIJI
Harajuku Station is a station on the JR Yamanote Line, is just one station north of Shibuya. Not far is the Meijijingu-mae Station, which is served by the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines. At the eastern end of Omotesando is Omotesando Station, which is served by the Chiyoda, Ginza and Hanzomon Subway Lines. (Directions are provided by Japan Guide)