The next few days in Japan, we explored some different parts of Tokyo. Public transport was convenient and fast, but we opted to walk whenever we could to take in more of the sights, and get our bearings.
There was always something interesting to see on the street, and people didn’t seem to mind you taking their pictures too much, so long as you were polite and smiled. Looking foreign has its benefits at times.
We headed to the Meiji Shrine, which is in a beautiful park about a half hour walk from Shibuya.
We were lucky enough to catch not one, but two weddings while we were there, which was pretty amazing.
There were lots of kids walking about in their traditional dress, which was pretty cool.
This wee guy in particular got a lot of attention. There were a fair few tourists here with obnoxiously large lenses that were brazenly taking pictures of him, which I thought was a bit gauche – even if nobody seemed to mind that much. Luckily, the Leica is far more discreet.
As we found a lot in Japan, a little smile goes a long way.
There was a London cab being used for the wedding car, which seemed pretty surreal in amongst all of the traditional Japanese surroundings.
Just across from the temple is the main Harajuku area, which is known as a colourful area with quirky shops where lots of unique fashion trends are born. When we arrived, it was definitely busy, but it felt like a lot of the young folk who might have hung out there before and given it its reputation had moved on elsewhere
There were still some interesting scenes though.
As I was walking along I had a pretty cool encounter with another guy who had a Leica camera. They aren’t too common to see kicking about, so it’s always interesting to see what people are shooting with. We both spotted each other, and stopped to grab a mutual picture from across the street. It was a nice shared moment that crossed cultures and didn’t even need a word to be spoken.
We hadn’t really eaten all day, and I was starving, so we stopped to get some takoyaki, which is essentially fried octopus balls.
I liked their logo.
Grace had been going on about trying these balls for a while, but as it turned out, I was the only one that got them. I don’t even like octopus, but hey… when in Tokyo.
After wandering about for a bit, we stopped to take advantage of the city lights that define Tokyo in the eyes of so many.
We headed back up towards Shibuya, and stopped at ‘drunkard’s alley’ – an area with rows of tiny bars and restaurants that literally only have enough room for about 4 people to sit.
After wandering about for a bit, we found one place to settle in and have a few plum wines.
We rounded things off at a craft beer bar that turned out to be one of the most touristy places we’d visit. I’m not really sure who this guy was. Our collective memories was pretty fuzzy by this point.
The day after, we got up fairly late, and decided to check out Shimokitazawa, an area known to be ‘hipster’, whatever that means. The route to get there via train was a bit convoluted, so we opted to walk off our hangovers – and were glad that we did. The path took us through a rather beautiful ‘rural’ area that didn’t seem like it got too many foreign visitors.
We spent a fair bit of time kicking about here taking pictures of things (a fair few on film), and just checking things out.
Grace and I ended up getting food at a place that turned out to be a kind of BBQ style restaurant where you cook your own meat at the table. It wasn’t exactly what we were after, and it did pose some serious linguistic challenges, as you had to pick what meats you wanted, there weren’t any pictures… and Google translate was suggesting that such delicacies included ‘pig intestine’, and ‘duck face’. Eventually though, we ended up with some incredibly tasty beef, and we didn’t even get thrown out when Grace nearly set the entire restaurant on fire. The Japanese were very polite and ignored the whole thing, with the exception of one waiter who ran over with ice, waving his arms about. What was really cool was that they spray you with some stuff when you leave so you don’t smell of smoke. There was an amusing moment at the start where the guy sprayed some on his hand for us to smell, and Grace stroked it, misunderstanding. Lost in translation indeed haha.
This post is part of a series looking back at my trip to Japan in 2016 along with Grace and Al. For a shared perspective from all three of us that was written at the time, take a look at japanatrois.wordpress.com.