Despite the fact I was absolutely exhausted from travelling I couldn’t sleep on our first night in Japan so when the others awoke I was already sitting dressed at the dining room, having had my breakfast and now doing some colouring in. We’d made sure to pick up some breakfast bits from our local Family Mart and I had happily made my way through some Mochi, which I love.
Around 9am we left the apartment and made our way to the Meji shrine. This was a shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meji, the first emperor of modern Japan, and his consort. The shrine sits right next to a metro station so was very easy to find. As soon as I saw the giant tori gate at the entrance my breath was taken, something about it seemed so beautiful. At the time I thought the amazing first impression was due to it being the first shrine I visited however now I can say that the Meji shrine is just wonderful.
There was a large forest that we walked through. Approximately 100,000 trees surround the shrine, dedicated from regions across the country. It was a lovely sunny day and the walk through seemed so peaceful, despite the area being quite busy. We saw the sake barrel offerings, which I thought looked really cool, and we spent a while looking at some of the designs. Before we entered the shrine there was a fountain area where we could purify our hands and mouths, you’ll find these at most shrines.
Another feature to feature at every shrine we visited afterwards were little wooden plaques upon which you can write well wishes or prayers. They changed with each temple and are a great little souvenir to pick up.
We were also very lucky to come across a wedding happening in the courtyard of the shrine. I was interested in the traditional dress. The ceremony seemed very formal, the bride and groom arm in arm slowly walking through the crowd. The wedding guests were also very traditionally dressed and all looked amazing.
After we left the shrine we walked over to Harajuku, to the Takeshita Dori street. We’ve already said that upon our return to Japan we will spend a whole day in Harajuku but we could only spend 90 minutes there this time but it was amazing. The street was packed with so much energy, colour and so many people. We spent a lot of time (and money) in Daiso, which was a 100 yen shop. Of all the shops we visited afterwards I still think Daiso was the best place for souvenirs and gifts. It was about 5 stories and had everything imaginable. We also got a lot of food from here too.
I love the Harajuku girl style and bought myself 4 dresses and a skirt whilst I was there. The clothes were absolutely gorgeous and unlike anything I’d be able to buy here in England. Plus at 2000-4000 yen (£12-£24) they were an absolutely bargain! I wasn’t sure about the sizing because Japanese girls are so petite. I’m a size 8 and I got medium and they fit perfectly.
Harajuku is known for crepes and there were a number of crepe outlets however the queues were quite long. We ended up purchasing our food from a vendor that sold eclair fingers and oh my holy moses they were beautiful! I could have eaten them again and again.
Our next stop on the itinerary was Shibuya. We dropped our shopping off at a coin locker inside the station and ventured out. Right outside the station sits Hachiko, the famously loyal Akita dog, who waited outside the station everyday for 9 years and 9 months after his owner died.
We also spent some time observing the famous Shibuya crossing. We watched it a couple of times, it was pretty amazing as it almost seemed choreographed. We then decided where we wanted to head and joined it ourselves.
Shibuya is full of big stores and we visited both Don Quijote and Shibuya 109 which were pretty impressive. Shibuya had so much life, there were lights and advertisements and people everywhere. However once again, in typical Tokyo style, it also seemed calm and relaxed.
After a while shopping (I managed to restrain myself after my Harajuku spree) we went over to Shinjuku, a short metro ride away. Shinjuku is Tokyo’s skyscraper district however as it was a Sunday we found it very quiet. We walked around and sat in a few pretty courtyards and rested our aching feet. Our first full day in Japan had certainly opened our eyes to their ways. Everywhere we went the streets were so clean. Even when we came across building work they seemed to work hard to make it not look ugly such as cover the scaffolding in flowers or use themed building equipment!
We reached our destination of the Government buildings. They have some great observation decks and what’s even better is they’re free. They really did offer some amazing views and we had a good birdseye view of the Meji forest, which we had visited earlier on in the day. A nice surprise was the ‘Local tastes food fair’ that was going on at the observation deck which we hadn’t known about. There were stalls set up representing delicacies from the various prefectures of Japan. It was a lovely place to get gifts.
After we left the government buildings we made the short walk to the Park Hyatt Hotel as I wanted to visit the New York bar, famous for being the location of much of the ‘Lost in Translation’ film. I love the film and we had rewatched it before our visit so I was excited to be visiting it. It opened at 5 so when we originally turned up at 4.30pm we had to turn back and grab some food from a convenience store whilst we waited.
Once we were up there we were glad we had come early as it filled up fast. The drinks weren’t cheap but then it was one of the few times on the holiday we actually had alcohol and it was a lovely atmosphere. The bar itself offers some great views over Tokyo.
Afterwards it was time to head back to Shibuya as we had a dinner reservation at the Alcatraz ER restaurant, which had a prison hospital there. I was eager to try one of the famous themed restaurants whilst we were in Japan and this one sounded fun. We ended up being late to our reservation as we struggled to find the place. We found the building fine but then went up the stairs and couldn’t figure out how to get to the floor we needed. After walking in and out the place several time, looking and checking we had the right floor, we were told by another English person we needed to take the lift to reach the floor haha. Oops!
Anyway we were seated straight away when we went in. It was certainly an experience. We were led to our cell by a nurse and asked to remove our shoes. We sat on the floor within the cell and there was various prison/ hospital paraphrenalia around. The menu featured some crazy items such as ‘Roast Pussy’ and ‘Brain salad’ but we opted for the safer sounding ‘Chicken and boob rice’.
The cocktail menu also seemed quite crazy. There were a number of ways you could have your cocktails served, ranging from babies bottles to alongside a vibrator. I chose a tequila cocktail that came served within a mannequins head. Dudley opted for a cocktail that came served with a side of sperm. He also had to cut a condom into his drink on request of the nurse. Adam ordered a menstual blood themed drink and once again the nurse subjected him to some humiliation, asking him to drink the cocktail from a tampon. I was crying with laughter.
The food came and was good, then just as we were tucking in the lights went out. This was at 8pm and for the next 10 minutes knife wielding maniacs ran amok in the corridors, jumping into various cells to scare the occupants. Once again it was very funny, although when the lights came on I was covered in food after making a few attempts to eat in the dark.
Our evening was super fun and a good example of the craziness you can find everywhere you look in Tokyo.