My itinerary within Japan can be found here.
Due to the bad weather forecast I had moved all day trips from Tokyo directly to the beginning of my Japan tour. A very wise decision – I was able to walk through the beautiful landscapes of Enoshima, Hakone and Kamakura in broad daylight and could enjoy the view, the animals and the buildings in all their beauty. Back in Tokyo the weather got much worse, as predicted, but at least a city of this size has enough buildings to hide in…
Since Tokyo and its 38 million inhabitants don’t fit in just one post, and by day it looks and feels completely different than at night, I’ve decided to split the pictures into these two categories: Day and Night.
Officially the area around the Harajuku Station (原宿駅) is not a district, but belongs to the district of Jingumae (神宮前) of the Shibuya ward (渋谷区). To the west lies Yoyogi Park (代々木公園), and to the east a couple of streets form one of the most important fashion centers in all of Japan. Especially teenagers and young adults feel comfortable here, on the weekend the streets are as crowded as few other places in the city.
In addition to the many fashion shops there are also endless rows of cafes, restaurants and food stalls. This stall alone for example offered a total of 75 Crêpe variations, from the basic “strawberries-and-cream” version to the fully equipped “tuna pizza”…
Harajuku is known for the many cosplayers walking on the streets on weekends. Especially the bridge between the train station and the Yoyogi Park entrance was one the biggest regular meeting places in Japan on Sunday afternoons. Allegedly at some occasions there were more photographers than cosplayers on the bridge.
The enthusiasm for cosplay seems to have waned a lot. I was there on Sunday afternoon, but I only ran into few cosplayers. And not just that: fewer teenagers in fancy costumes, but more middle aged women dancing Rockabilly… 😯
These two “robot boys” were a special eye catcher. A sweaty job, but at least well paid 😉
Meiji Shrine (明治神宮)
This shrine is dedicated to the souls of Meiji-Tennō and his wife, but they were actually buried in Kyoto. It belongs to the Chokusaisha (勅使 参向の神社), the fifteen shrines which send a special envoy to special celebrations of the imperial family. Some of them may however only claim this privilege every six or even only every ten years.
Once again I was especially lucky, a Shintō wedding took place during my visit. Not just the bride and groom, but also the children of the guests wore traditional kimonos for this occasion. A beautiful sight!
As in Kamakura there were once again several shelves with Kazaridaru (飾り樽), barrels for the sake (酒, rice wine) served during religious ceremonies on display.
Ueno Park (上野公園)
This gigantic park is located in the middle of Tokyo in the Taitō ward (台東区), after which a well-known Japanese manufacturer of computer games was named. Space Invaders or Bubble Bobble, anyone?
Another parallel to Kamakura: rent a kimono and feel like you’re in the 13th century for a day.I don’t know for sure whether plastic cups with hard liquor were all the rage in the past too, but if there is a place in Tokyo where one can really feel like back then, it is Ueno Park. From here on just sit back and let the colors and the mood do their work 🙂
Even nature could easily keep up with the colors of the man-made buildings. Although it was already mid-October, there was still buzzing, chriping and fluttering everywhere. No wonder – Tokyo is so far south that the average daily temperature in October is still an incredible 22 degrees Celsius! 😯
Smaller than squirrel, but equally cheeky and greedy: sparrows. Incidentally, the worldwide population is an estimated 500 million birds, which roughly corresponds to the population of the United States plus that of Bangladesh.
However, those who (like me) think that sparrows are everywhere in masses are mistaken: in Western Europe their numbers have declined so much that the sparrow is a threatened species in some regions. These companions here didn’t seem to be interested in these statistics, though. Free rice is a serious matter!
And with this sunset I say goodbye until “in a few hours”, when we will see Tokyo by Night! 😉