Posts Tagged Meiji Shrine
Disclaimer: UPS is the nickname of one of my friends visiting Japan. This post has nothing to do with United Parcel Service.
After doing some sightseeing in Shinjuku with The Penpal and my friend UPS, we went back to Shinjuku station and took a quick ride on Yamanote line towards Meiji Shrine.
Walking towards the Shrine on a Sunday is always fun because of all of the cosplayers. UPS was surprised to see all of the elaborate costumes, even on a chilly day. We spent some time looking at the costumes, then proceeded to the shrine itself. Like most of the visitors, UPS got a picture taken with some of the cosplayers. He also took the time to get a picture with a nearby security guard who was directing traffic near the busy shrine.
Meiji Shrine should be on everyone’s must visit list if you are in Tokyo, even for a short time. The forest around the shrine is lush and spectacular, and features trees from all over Japan. The shrine itself is a series of sprawling wooden buildings, lovingly restored in the 50s after being completely destroyed during World War II. It was still close to New Year, so the shrine was busier than usual, although thankfully not as crazy as it would have been a week ago. UPS wanted to take in everything, and the Penpal was happy to explain the different parts of the shrine and their significance.
As we were preparing to leave the shrine, we noticed a female high school sports team, all in their warm up uniforms, entering the shrine together. UPS thought this was a great opportunity for a picture, and walked up and asked if they would mind getting a picture with him. In summer 2004 I had some other fraternity friends show up in Japan, and it was generally a struggle to get them to talk to Japanese people. UPS had no such issues, and managed to get a hilarious picture (which will not be included here).
Even though I had been to Meiji Shrine several times before, it was still a great experience to see a large space in one of the busiest, most modern cities in the world set aside to remember it’s past. UPS enjoyed the experience, and The Penpal enjoyed sharing her culture with one of my friends.
Next up: return to Yoyogi park.
Today was the last full day of my family’s visit to Japan. It was another scorching hot and humid day. Since we had no set agenda, we discussed possible plans for the day over breakfast. My dad and sister were both looking to go to Tokyo, and my mom was tired, hot, and just wanted a day off.
After breakfast I talked with my sister and my father to find out what they wanted to do. My dad wanted more sightseeing, and my sister wanted to see something fun and do some shopping. My dad was okay with a solo trip, so I decided that I would drop him off near Meiji Shrine and take my sister to Shibuya.
My dad drinks with a stranger
Armed with a guidebook and some basic directions, my dad left the train at Meiji Jingu-Mae station. He was able to find Meiji Shrine and spent some time looking around. After the shrine, he decided to wander around Yoyogi park. At some point he was approached by a Japanese man about the same age who wanted to practice English. They ended up sitting outside together drinking cold beer and talking about Canada and Japan. Remember kids – always talk to strangers!
When he was telling us about it later, my dad was very proud of making a new friend and finding his way back to Hello House successfully.
My sister and I go to Shibuya 109
My sister and I got off the Yamanote line in Shibuya. There are so many things to look at in Shibuya, but the one we focused on was Shibuya 109; the center of young women’s fashion. The 109 building is a famous Shibuya landmark. Since all the stores inside only sell women’s clothing, I had no reason to ever go inside. Not knowing what to expect, we entered the front door.
The building is tall and filled with small boutiques. Shoppers wind their way though the building from bottom to top. Shibuya 109 was the girliest place I have ever been in my entire life. The interior was an explosion of pink, cuteness, and impractical shoes. I think I may have been the only male in the entire building. It was awkward, but my sister had fun looking at all of the clothing and accessories.
After escaping 109, we did some other exploring in the area before returning back to Hello House to meet up for dinner. Shibuya 109 was not really my thing, but when you are in a foreign country you have to try new things!
On Sunday there is always something interesting going out near Meiji Shrine. Instead of our usual breakfast routine, we all grabbed convenience store breakfast and got on the train. From Noborito we took the Odakyu line to Shinjuku, then took Yamanote line to Harajuku. At Harajuku we walked out towards the entrance of Meiji shrine.
On the bridge towards Meiji shrine you can find a bunch of cosplayers hanging out. Most of the cosplayers were dressed as anime characters or members of visual kei bands. The costumes were all fantastically detailed. For some reason there were also two people dressed in Nazi uniforms. You simply could not do that in Canada (or the US, the UK, etc etc). There were a lot of cosplayers, but apparently if the weather was nicer there would have been many more.
After the bridge, we toured Meiji shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife. Meiji Shrine was under construction from 1915 to 1926, with the main building being destroyed in World War II and rebuilt thanks to a public fundraising effort in the late 50s. The shrine and grounds are impressive, giving you the feeling that you have escaped Tokyo. We were lucky enough to catch parts of a traditional Japanese wedding while we were there.
After the Shrine, we wandered around Yoyogi Park, which is always lively. I lost track of how many bands we saw playing. There were also some girls singing and dancing along with Japanese pop music. Hippie was the only person brave enough to attempt to talk to them afterwards. We stopped for a quick snack at a takoyaki stand. The guys heard “tako” and thought Mexican food (taco). They were a little surprised to see the fried dough balls filled with octopus and covered in sauce. Everyone tried one, but once again Hippie was the hero eating two octopus balls at once. Naturally we made several immature jokes about this.
On the way out of Yoyogi park, we saw the famous rockabilly dancers that show up every weekend. They have leather pants, sunglasses, and crazy pompadours, and dance to loud rockabilly music while drinking beer. If you are ever in Yoyogi park on the weekend, you can’t leave until you see these guys.
The first part of our day at the Shrine and park were pretty fun, but we were just getting started. More to come!
(2014 Update) Check out this post about Yoyogi Park with awesome pictures on a superior blog here: http://lifetoreset.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/rock-and-roll-at-yoyogi-park/