DAY 8 - MEIJI JINGU, HARAJUKU & SHIBUYA SUNSET
Barrels of sake (nihonshu) donated to the Meiji Shrine.
Meiji Shrine is located in a forest that covers an area of 700,000 square-meters (about 175 acres). This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. The forest is visited by many as a recreation and relaxation area in the center of Tokyo.
Below: Water-filled basins, called chōzubachi, used by worshipers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine.
Visitors leave their prayers written onto wooden plaques (ema) hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) receive them.
There was a wedding going on when we arrived at the inner shrine, with the bridal party leaving in a black cab.
Halfway down the street are two crepe stalls. Marion Crepes is Japan's longest-running crêpe shop and has been on Harajuku's Takeshita-dori since 1977. For many shoppers, a Marion crêpe is still the quintessential Harajuku street food - and I confirm they are incredible.
Heading further into Harajuku/Ometosando we did some exploring of the small winding streets. With plenty of trendy looking cafes, bars and shops its a nice part of the city where I could easily spend plenty of time . After some wandering we found a restaurant near the Ometosando shopping centre with an amazing panoramic view of Tokyo, and a particulary flamboyant waiter.
Spectacular angled mirror entrance of the Tokyu Plaza shopping centre and equally spectacular glass facades on the Audi Forum down the road.
Walking back from Ometosando and Harajuku took us through the famous Shibuya Crossing. Stopping for a rest in the Starbucks above the crossing provides a great view of the flow of traffic and people going about their business.
After walking back to Shibuya from Harajuku we decided to rewards ourselves (and celebrate the small matter of Kate's birthday) with some cocktails in the hotel bar at the Cerulean Tower Hotel. We got there just in time to see the most amazing sunset behind Mount Fuji, as well as the incredible views of the Shibuya Crossing, towards Shinjuku and Harajuku, as well as Roppongi and the Tokyo Tower in the other direction. The drinks are pricey, but well worth it if you time it right.