Tag Archives: Tokyo

Capital of Japan

Looking for Yoyogi Park

Sad to leave Shinjuku

After leaving Shinjuku Park I headed straight away to the nearest station in Shinjuku. I knew that it was probably going to be the last time so see Shinjuku and its beauty. I was fascinated by that part of Tokyo, like it was already a part of me. It was in my heart since my first day and I still remember now, more than 3 years after that experience, every single moment that made me fall in love of that place, our romance during day time and during evening time.  Goodbye Shinjuku. I really want to meet you again in the near future.

I didn’t have time to think about the beautiful times that me and Shinjuku passed together. I was there in Tokyo because I wanted to see more. I wanted to fall in love with other parts of the city. I had to go. When I reached the station I was sad, but at the same time I was happy because a lot of new adventures were waiting for me somewhere else in that city, in that country. The adventure hadn’t finished, in fact, it had just started.

Lunch near Yoyogi Station

Not even half of the daylight hours had passed, I still have the most of the day in front of me. I was getting hungry because lunch time was coming. As soon as I got of from the train and headed to the exit, the first thing to do was to look for a place where to eat. I walked few minutes around the area and finally I found a place where to eat. It was cheap and the food was quick to eat. I had to make the most of my remaining time in Tokyo.

I can’t remember what I ate, but as all Japanese food, the food was deliscious. I ate quick to save time so I could visit more places. I left the restaurant and went to look for the park. Where is it? Let’s find out.

In search of the Park

The first thing to do was to go to the train station to look at the detailed maps that are there for anyone walking by. I looked at it and realised that the park was not near the station, I had to walk a bit for the entrance.

I really didn’t care walking for a bit to look for the park, at the end of the day I had to walk for most of my day anyway, so a few minutes of extra walk didn’t make much difference at all. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to see new things, things that belong only to that area, a part of Tokyo that is not found anywerelse in the rest of the world. The idea excited me a lot.

Anyway, it took me around 10 minutes to reach the entrance of the park. I enjoyed the walk to the station. One of the things that fascinated me was that the the way to the park was not even. The road at the beginning was going downhill and then I had to walk up a slope. But it was short because the entrance to the park was just there.

Yoyogi Park is different from Shinjuku Park

The first impression of the entrance of Yoyogi Park was that the entrance to the park is different from Shinjuku Park’s entrance, or at least from the entrance I took entering Shinjuku Park. While Shinjuku Park’s entrance was set along a very large and busy road, the entrance was just a normal gate. In contrast, Yoyogi park entrance was like a proper Japanese style entrance to the park.

In fact, as you see on the photo above, the entrance gate is totally made of wood, with three golden color objects, looking like coins, above each of the two long pillers and one in the middle, they might have been used either as nails or to cover the nails for decoration. By the look of the wood, the gate seems that has been there for a long period of time, probably from the Meiji period, however, it is still in very good conditions.

Entrance of Yoyogi Park From Yoyogi
Entrance of Yoyogi Park From Yoyogi

Hills Ahead

I could see from the entrance that the park was not flat, not even Shinjuku park was flat but at least it was flatter. I could see that there were more trees and it looked more like a forest. That park has its own ability to attract people that it is different from the way Shinjuku Park does and I think that probably Yoyogi park is more popular to tourists than Shinjuku Park does and I will tell you later why, but don’t get me wrong, I still love Shinjuku park because I am not a touris arant for tonight for me and Mari, and I still wanted to see more things in this exciting city, so I decided to have a look at the park in a quicker way than I did with Shinjuku Park. In one word, I had to hurry up.

Quick Tour of the Park

Because I have done a very quick tour and because I am writing this blog post 3 1/2 years later, I cannot remember much about the park itself apart that there were many trees, I was going uphill and downhill, I couldn’t see everything, just some of the things, and I probably missed the most important things, such as the Meiji Shrine 🙁

Anywhay, here below I posted the photos of the park that I took while visiting it.

The Other Side of the Park

Once I went on the top of Yoyogi Park, I started the long way down the hill to the other side of the park. Once I reached the exit, I saw a familiar gate, it was the same as the gate I took at the entrance, however, this was in the other side of the park. There were definately more people there, it looked like that the entrance was more popular.

That entrance, however, was flat, and then on the other side of the gate it was a little bit more wide open with about 100 yards of footpath. Then I saw something that was even more familiar: I arrived at Harajuku!!!

Yoyogi National Gymnasium

Still curious of Harajuku (I will never get enought of that area), I saw a sign pointing the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

What is it? Let’s go to have a look.

Walking throug a short foot path I saw a pillar stating that next I could find Yoyogi National Stadium.

Another photo of the Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Another photo of the Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku

I looked behind and I see a very beautiful building with a wonderful design. It was the famous Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

Yoyogi National Stadium
Yoyogi National Gymnasium

As you can see, it has been beautifully built  with marvellous architecture. It was soooo beautiful and I fell in love with it (like the rest of what I had seen so far in Tokyo).

Because the time was ticking, I didn’t have much time to go there to visit it, I went to Harajuku train station and left for the next adventure, and to tell you the truth, Tokyo never disappoint me and it looks like there are 1,000,000+ things to do and see in that great city. I just wish I had more time to visit that amazing city.

Shinjuku Park

Beautiful Days

The sun rays started coming through my window in the morning early at around 7am. I look outside of the window and started admiring the beautiful sky above Tokyo. It seemed like that the sunny days in Tokyo were never ending. I always loved the sun, I always loved the heat coming from the sun rays and Tokyo when is covered by the sun light looks wonderful. I didn’t want to go back to bed, even though it was still early, I didn’t want to spoil the day, so I decided to get ready. I shaved my face and had a beautiful shower.

  • What can I do today? – I asked to myself.

I was thinking that when I walked to Shinjuku on my first day I saw a park on my left. The park seemed big and I looked at the map and saw that another park was marked not too far away with an entrance near Yoyogi station.

  • Yes! Let’s make this a park day! – At least in the morning

I also thought what Mari told me few days earlier. She said that I had to look for a restaurant for tonight before leaving Tokyo. She was working today so I couldn’t meet her during day light hours. I had to think about something. I was thinking to start enjoying my day first and I will probably find somewhere nice along the way.

After I finished to get ready and think about what I was going to do for the rest of the day, I left the room, went downstairs to have breakfast, asked the lady of the ryokan if she could keep my suitcases until later and then left the ryokan.

Different Countries Park

The first thing I did after leaving the ryokan was stop at the local Starbucks and grab a coffee. I can’t stay the all day without a coffee.

The sunrays were leading my way. It took me about 20-25 minutes to get there (excluding the coffee break). As soon as I entered the park I realised that the park was going to be big. Soon after I saw some signs pointing at different directions: English park on the left, straigth to the French park and right to the Japanese park. ‘Wow! This park is multicultural’ I said to myself.

Even though I couldn’t resist to the temptation to visit the Japanese park, I decided to visit the park clockwise. I don’t know why but I love the wait and the first part that I visited was the English one first, the French after and finally the Japanese.

Both, the English and the French parks were very beautiful, but I visited them quickly because I was not really too much interested in them. The area where the first 2 park were, was fairly big. Then, after I finished to visit the first 2 parks, I entered the Japanese park. The only thing I did was to follow the path and admire its contents.

Harmony

Walking along the trail in the park I could notice straight away that everything was placed consciously and in harmony with the nature. Harmony, in fact, is one of the elements that shape the every day life of the Japanese people, I will go more into detail about ‘harmony’ in Japan in another post.

Many trees had a haircut

One of the things that impressed me most were the trees. In fact, many of them looked like grown up bonsai, this is because they were perfectly trimmed, like they have been to the hair dresser or to the barber shop, giving them a shape that differs from the normal trees. The people that look after the trees in the park seem to use the same technology they use to shape the bonsai trees.

I ‘killed’ the time

The park never finished to surprise me, it was so beautiful and it gave the impression that the time stopped for many centuries and the beauty of every single element would stay there forever for the millennia ahead of us.

The only thing that made me realise that I was living in the 3rd millennium were the buildings in Shinjuku that I could see from far away behind the wonderfully positioned trees.

Trees, rivers, lakes, stones, traditional buildings. Everything was put together precisely. Nothing was out of order. It was done with the precision of a Swiss watch up to the minimum detail. It was just amazing. I had never seen before a park as perfect and beautiful as that. Totally different from western parks. I was lucky to be able to admire the beauty of the scenery. I just didn’t want to leave Japan anymore.

Ocha Douzo (Tea Please)

Walking along the way I saw a sign directing to a traditional Japanese tea room. I was curious how they looked like. I was in Japan and I wanted to feel the Japanese culture inside me. I wanted to experience as many things as I could in order to satisfy my hunger of Japanese culture.

I didn’t know if they were doing the tea ceremony there or it was in another room, more private. The building was open with few sits on the inside and customers sipping tea.

It took me a while to reach the tea room. I was excited. I wondered if I could experience there the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. I didn’t know if they were doing the tea ceremony there or it was in another room, more private. When I arrived at the building I saw a man serving, the building was open with few seats on the inside and a few customers sipping tea.

As soon as I approached the man that was serving, he told me that on that day they didn’t do any tea ceremony. In that occasion I was not lucky. However, I was not upset about that. I thought that I had to stay for 11 months in Japan and I will have another occasion to experience the beauty of the Japanese Tea Ceremony Culture. After taking a few pictures, I left the tea room and carried on with my park experience until the exit.

My next adventure was waiting for me.

Long Walk into the Unknown

Exploring Idea

After having the coffee in Harajuku, I decided to explore the area. After coming out from Starbucks, I saw in the opposite side few department stores. I decided not to go inside them, instead I decided to walk a little bit and look at that ‘hidden’ area of Tokyo.

After coming out from Starbucks, instead than going back from the same way that I came from, the left and turn the corner, I decided to go right and follow my instinct. I crossed the road ignoring the department stores and kept going right. At the first big traffic light I turned left and walked along a long road.

Ginza Number 2

I could see straight away that the road I took was going to be a long one, but not that long. At first there was nothing really interesting that is worth writing in this blog. After about 10 minutes walk, on the left side of the road (my side) started appearing high end shops, the same sort of shops that I found earlier in the day at Ginza: Luis Vuitton, Armani and so on. And because I am not really into those kinds of ‘posh’ shops, I ignored them, I didn’t even take a single photo to them because I was not interested, even though I should have taken a couple just to put on this post (or page, whichever you are reading right now).

I Love the Adventure

Around half way of that road (I didn’t know at that point that I was half way through that road) I found a sign mentioning that by following that road I was going to reach Shibuya. I didn’t know about Shibuya, and looking at my train map that I had in my pocket, Shibuya was marked in bold and in bigger characters compared to those of most stations, indicating that it was one of the major areas in Tokyo.

Nearby I found a station, I really cannot remember right now the name, but it was going towards a different direction from the line that link all the major areas of Tokyo like a circle, it is similar as the Circle Line in London. Anyway,

“I was by myself in the middle of Tokyo and I couldn’t care less where I was going, the most important thing is that in which way I was going I would still find my way round and probably find places where tourists don’t go. I love the adventure.”

2nd Stop

I kept walking into the same direction, that road was actually long. After I completed 100% of that road (it took me more than 30 minutes), another sign was directing Shibuya on the right. It was another long big road, probably bigger than the other one that I just completed.

I crossed the road and went to Shibuya direction. After few minutes I had a very short break, guess what? I stopped for another cappuccino at a nearby Starbucks that was on the same side of the road where I was walking. After grabbing the coffee and leaving the coffee shop, I carried on walking.

UN Uni

I could see a large selection of restaurants on both sides of the road, the most of them were Japanese and a handful were American large chains such as Pizza Hut and so on. By that time, the sky was already getting dark and after about 30 minutes walk on the other side of the road I saw a the ‘University of the United Nations’!!! I didn’t know that the UN had universities. I learnt something new that day that is nothing to do with Japanese culture, but about the world security or safety or whatever you want to call it.

Reaching the Destination

Not far from the University of the United Nations the road started to divide in 2. Following my sense of orientation I kept walking on my side of the road rather than crossing the road and following the other path. The road soon after crossed with another one that if I was going left the road was going up-hill, however, I decided to go down-hill and few minutes later I reached the final destination: Shibuya Station. Yeahhhh!!!!!!!

Shibuya: The Busiest Crossing In The World

Light inside the tunnel
After the long walk I almost felt exhausted, however, my feelings were still exiting because I had reached another destination, another place where I could visit for the first time, a new adventure where I could tell the other people about. I managed to get there without asking anybody for any direction, just my common sense, sense of direction (if I have got any, but I think I have some) and the train map that has got nothing to do with the road map.
I knew that I had arrived at the destination because there was a sign that was pointing at the entrance of Shibuya station. I entered a stair case inside a building, went up the stairs and the first thing that I noticed was that there was the entrance of a shopping centre. There were different shops and an escalator that was going to the floors below.
Picture 1: Down the escalator
Picture 1: Down the escalator
Outside was already dark by at least 1 hour, however, the lights inside the shopping centre and those that were coming from the shops were illuminating the inside of the building in the same way that the lights illuminate the inside of the buildings when closer to Christmas, but without any of the Christmas decoration.
Shibuya Station
 
I kept walking tirelessly until I saw that the number of people were growing. I was entering a tunnel. That tunnel was narrow and had windows. I could see that this tunnel was actually a walking bridge and from the windows there was a beautiful view of tall buildings, the roads underneath and I could also see that the tunnel was going to have a left turn. After walking a few minutes, the tunnel started to get larger and the number of people increased by a large margin.
Businessmen, schoolgirls, schoolboys and people with shopping bags were filling the tunnel and I realised soon afterwards that I was inside the train station. This larger tunnel was leading to the train platforms. People were entering the platforms from left and right. I think the time was between 6-7. Tokyo Shibuya rush hours and there was a lot still to come.
Better than Piccadilly Circus
 
After I had passed all the platforms from the tunnel, the building took me to a staircase leading on the street level. Step by step I managed to reach the exit and another staircase that led me to Shibuya Hachiko Square. The square was crowded and I noticed that in the middle of the square there was a statue of a dog. A lot of people seemed very interested about that statue and were taking photos and selfies with the dog.
hachiko_square1
Picture 2: Dog in Hachiko Square (from http://www.yayanoctopus.com)
Dog's Statue in Hachiko Square (From http://youinjapan.net)
Picture 3: Dog’s Statue in Hachiko Square (From http://youinjapan.net)
In front of me I noticed a pedestrian crossing and I could see on the corners on the other side of the crossing some very interesting buildings, some of them with a very interesting shape. I took some photos of the buildings in front of me and then I walked closer to the pedestrian crossing and took more photos.
Picture 3: QFRONT building
Picture 4: QFRONT building

Pictures 5,6,7,8: different buildings and different designs

Pictures 5 and 6: Beauty of the buildings
Pictures 5 and 6: Beauty of the buildings

SAMSUNG

Pictures 7 and 8: More from Shibuya
Pictures 7 and 8: More from Shibuya
The buildings were magnificent, especially at that time, when the sky was dark and the lights were standing out beautifully.
One of the corners of the crossing reminded me of Piccadilly Circus in London, a better version of Piccadilly. It had a screen with a video showing an advert and other LED adverts on the building. Almost everything was in Japanese characters.
Picture 4: Sibuya's Piccadilly Circus style
Picture 9: Sibuya’s Piccadilly Circus style
Another of the building had a Starbucks on the first floor (or second floor if you live in an Asian country). The tallest of the building was the most unique of the buildings. The bottom part was looking like that it had cubes with glass windows one on top of the other. The cubes were not parallel to each other, one was moved towards this direction and others moved towards other directions.
Picture 5: Cube Building
Picture 10: Cube Building
Wow!!!
 
After taking a number of pictures, I moved to the edge of the pedestrian crossing.
  • Wow!
I thought to myself.
  • Wow! Wow!! Wow!!!
What has fascinated me was to see all the pedestrian traffic lights going green all at the same time and hundreds/thousands of people crossing the road all at the same time. In pictures it looks beautiful, but for real, watching the reaction of that large number of people crossing the road live it really gave me a wonderful impression of the place. Something that I have never seen before – ever. It was just fantastic.
Picture 6: Shibuya's famous pedestrian crossing
Picture 11: Shibuya’s famous pedestrian crossing
My experience in Tokyo was just getting better and better. The only thing I felt sorry was for not crossing the road alongside all those people. Everyone is an individual, however, at that crossing everyone looks the same. I wondered what was the proportion of people crossing the road just because they needed to cross it and the people that were crossing the road just to try the feeling, maybe once in a lifetime.
Next adventures
I wasn’t feeling hungry yet, so I decided to go back to Shibuya train station. Jump on a train and then go back to Harajuku because I felt that I had to take some photos (which I had posted in ‘Cosplay Hunting in Harajuku‘). After that I felt hungry and decided to go to eat in Shinjuku.

Cosplay Hunting in Harajuku

Harajuku Destination

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was really willing to go Cosplay hunting and the best place to go was Harajuku. I got on the train from Akihabara in order to reach my next destination. When I arrived in Harajuku and left from the main exit, I looked around and I saw a foot bridge on my right. At the time I didn’t across that bridge, I just acrossed the road at the traffic light. I looked around a little and then saw a street where a large number of people were walking into. I decided to go there and see what that street was all about.

Shops….shops…..shops…..

That street was packed of people and at the entrance of that street there was a sign telling the name of that street: Takeshita Street (or it can be called in Japanese ‘Takeshita-Dori’). Takeshita-Dori seemed very exciting, even though there were many ‘gaijin’ (foreiners), however, the most of the people were still Japanese.

Picture 1 - Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)
Picture 1 – Entrance of Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dori)

Walking down that street I saw a moltitude of clothes shops. I didn’t enter in any of the shops there but I could see that some shops were more specialised in cosplay costumes, but only a handful of them. The most of them were just normal shops selling just normal clothes and shoes, and of course there was also a McDonald’s.

This picture shows how crowded is Harajuku and Takeshita-Dori.
Picture 2 – McDonalds and crowd inside Takeshita-Dori

I did not manage to see a single cosplayer in costume. I was a little disappointed by that but I was still pleased to be in Tokyo, and I soon forgot about looking for cosplay.

Nice Atmosphere

Even though I didn’t see any cosplay, the street itself was crowded with people and made me feel good. It had a nice atmosphere. This is probably because I wasn’t used to quiet places and I always loved been in busy places.

The street was not even. As soon as the ‘Takeshit Street’ sign is passed, the street goes down hill for a little while and then goes flat again. Some of the shops were owned (I think) by foreigners (even though I’m not Japanese myself), however, the street still have that Japanese atmosphere.

Pamyu Kore is written in pink with Japanese characters
Picture 3 – Japanese Feeling
Picture 4 - Feeling in Japan
Picture 4 – Feeling in Japan

I walked up and down the street few times because I liked it and there was a shop that attracted me from the outside because of the clothes they sold, some kind of 17th/18th century costumes. I didn’t go inside that shop, I don’t know why, maybe because I was a bit shy to go inside.

Picture 5 - Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes
Picture 5 – Body Line, the shop selling 17th/18th century clothes

Cross Over

At the end of the street there was a large road and I could see across the road some big high street apparel brands. The shops seemed quite new. On the right, without acrossing the road I noticed a Starbucks and then I decided to stop for a few minutes, bought and drunk a cappuccino and then left for my next adventure.

*Photos 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been taken on the same day but later in the evening when I went back to Takeshita-Dori from Shibuya for taking more photos.

Akihabara ‘Super Mario’ Building

Not yet, Harajuku has to wait!!!…

After Ginza and before going to Harajuku, I decided to go to Akihabara by myself to have a look around and have lunch there. I wanted to take some photos at maid girls that were handing out leaflets for the maid cafes, but they told me that I was not allowed to do that. So I decided not to take photos in case they think that I am a stalker. After a short walk I decided to move away from the ‘maid area’.

Electric Building

Leaving the ‘maid area’ didn’t mean leaving Akihabara, but going to discover something different. As I mention in the ‘Akihabara: The Electric Town‘ post, I entered the building that has stairs that, from outside they look like Super Mario Bros’ pipes, but this time I decided to discover what was hidden on the other floors.

It didn’t take long to reach that building from where I was, to tell you the truth, I was there within 5 minutes.

Funny Looking Laptops

Once entered into that building, I took the ‘ pipe escalator’ to the other floors to see if they were going to sell items different from those found in UK. The most of the things are the same or very similar, however, what impressed me a lot was the thickness of the Japanese laptops. The screen part was about the same, however, the block of the laptop that holds the keyboard was much thicker.

I was really surprised about that and I was wondering why they were as thick. However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the design of the laptops. The design was far from futuristic, surprisingly, the design was very static, more similar to the old laptops that used to sell in the early 2000’s. For a country like Japan, where everyone think is ahead of the times, this has surprised me a lot.

Raw Egg

After a thorough investigation of the store, I decided to go nearby for a lunch. I found somewhere cheap where to eat, one of those places that can be found anywhere throughout Tokyo.

After choosing something from the vending machine, I went to look for a seat and waited for the waitress to come with the food to my table. The food I order was below the 600 yen mark and it included a bowl of rice, some sliced pork on top and an egg still inside the shell, I thought it was a boild egg.

I started eating the sliced pork and the rice first, then when the waitress came along, I asked how to eat the egg. The waitress she said to open it on top of the rice and so I did. When I broke the egg, I realised that it was still raw. I have never eaten in all my life a row egg. I thought if I was going to mix it with the hot rice, the egg was going to cook by itself. I was wrong but I decided to eat it anyway. Half a year later I found out that eating raw egg was part of the Japanese culture, in fact, Japanese eggs would not harm the health due to its freshness. ‘Tamago gohan’ is the raw egg served on top of a bowl of rice and then eaten, usually with a bit of Japanese soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Really Hentai
After finished eating, I went to walk around the area to see what other things the place was offering. I turned into a narrow street and to my surprise I saw a 6 storie building ) that was selling exclusively only school girl uniforms. The six floors include the ground floor (in Japan the ground floor is considered as first floor unlike western countries) and in addition had the basement. Either that depato (department store in Japanese romanised) was selling uniforms for schools, or more probably it was selling uniforms mainly for cosplaying, or for the maids that were working in Akihabara, or maybe for certain men in order to satisfy their hentai fantasies, or maybe for all of those reasons. I could see on the windows some of the school uniforms displayed and on the ground floor there were some kids’ size anime stickers of school girls and magazine pages.
I was really surprised that a department store so big was selling just schoolgirl uniforms. I was really tempted to have a look inside but I decided to go against my temptation just in case people thought I was a hentai. Even though I was in the country famous for hentai (perverts, at least Japan is seen this way by westerners), I still didn’t know much about Japanese culture to consider to enter that store.
Hentai Building?
Hentai Building?

Tokyo never stopped fascinating me. Tokyo is a really marvellous city, even though many people think that Japan is a very strange country. At the end of the day I respect their culture and I would never change is because is so different from the west and I was sure that Japan was hiding more fascinating things and my staying in Japan had just started. (Next).

Hot in Ginza

Quick look at Ginza

After visiting Mitsukoshi and the sorrounding area I decided to go to Ginza. I went there because the train map highlighted Ginza as one of the main areas in Tokyo.

Once I got out from Ginza station, I realised straight away that the area was posh. In fact, as soon as I went on the pavement from the station, I saw a massive department store called Matsuya Ginza

Picture 1: Matsuya Ginza Department Store
Picture 1: Matsuya Ginza Department Store

By the look of it, it looked like it would contain very expensive products, similar to those seen at Mitsukoshi department store. I decided not to enter that building on that occasion.

Other main shops

As I walked along the pavement, I could only see big expensive department stores and designer stores ranging from Tiffany to Gucci to Luis Vuitton and so on. I had to save money because I had to stay in Japan for 1 year without a job, so I decided not to buy anything. That was not the only reason why I didn’t buy anything. The other reason was because I could buy the same exact items back in London and there is no point to buy them there on my first day in Japan. I wanted to fully dive into the Japanese culture, that was one of the reasons why I choose Japan as my destination for my year abroad.

Tiffany Shop in Ginza
Picture 2: Tiffany Shop in Ginza
Picture 3: A little bit of Ginza
Picture 3: A little bit of Ginza
Picture 4: Japanese Style too
Picture 4: Japanese Style too
Picture 5: Better view to the Japanese style
Picture 5: Better view to the Japanese style

33 Degrees!!!!!!!!!!

The temperature on that day just before the middle of September was very high and I felt very hot even thought I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

I just had a quick look at the area. And while I was approaching the train station to go to my next adventure, I saw almost on the top of a tall building a display indicating the temperature at that moment, the time was around 12 o’clock and the temperature was 33 degrees celsius. Surprised, I said: wow!!! I remembered that when I left London for Japan a few days earlier the temperature was about 10-11 degrees celsius. That was a massive difference in temperature dividing 2 of the greatest cities in the world set apart by thousands of miles.

Picture 6: Building recording the temperature
Picture 6: Building recording the temperature
Picture 7: Clear display of the temperature
Picture 7: Clear display of the temperature

Due to the high temperature in that place, I felt my body sweating and became hungry. By the look of the area I thought if I was going to buy something to eat there I was going to break the bank so I decided to change destination and to leave Ginza after a short walk. (Read my next adventure)

Walking Around Mitsukoshi

Other World

As soon as I left Mitsukoshi I decided to have a quick walk in the area surrounding. To my surprise, I managed to find traditional shops and restaurants (picture 2) along the way, and the shop that impressed me more that all the others was a traditional ‘calligraphy’ shop. That shop was small but was selling everything from brushes to calligraphy papers, in other words it was selling everything about calligraphy (picture 3 and 4).

Picture 2: Traditional Style Japanese Restaurant
(Picture 2: Traditional Style Japanese Restaurant)
(Picture 3: Calligraphy Shop)
(Picture 3: Calligraphy Shop)
(Picture 4: Man Walking Past the Calligraphy Shop)
(Picture 4: Man Walking Past the Calligraphy Shop)

Edo Lifestyle

It was nice to find Tokyo so diverse, everywhere you go there is something interesting to see and visit, so I decided to move on to the next adventure and went to get the subway (or underground for British-English speakers like me?).

Once inside the station, before going on the platform I noticed on the wall some traditional paintings, probably made during the Edo period. Tokyo used to be called Edo before becoming the capital of Japan. At that time Kyoto was the capital, and before Kyoto was Nara the capital (Nara is not too far from Kyoto, it is in Kansai area and I suggest the readers to visit it if you travel to Japan).

Edo Period Painting
(Picture 5: Edo Period Painting)
(Picture 6: Closer look at the Edo Period Painting)
(Picture 6: Closer look at the Edo Period Painting)

Those paintings probably represent the everyday life of the Japanese people during that period and are totally different from the western paintings during the same period or even during any period. It is very interesting to compare the Japanese and western style of paintings.

Difference between Japanese and Western style paintings

Usually the figures of the people in the western paintings are big, in Japanese paintings the figures are much smaller and this style makes it possible to show the whole community in those large paintings. Yes, those paintings were quite large and probably have been drown using a different tissue and a different method of drawing and painting.

After taking a few photos to keep as my memory of Japan and to use for this blog I went to the platform waiting for the train that led me somewhere else. (Next…)

Long Walk into the Unknown

Exploring Idea

After having the coffee in Harajuku, I decided to explore the area. After coming out from Starbucks, I saw in the opposite side few department stores. I decided not to go inside them, instead I decided to walk a little bit and look at that ‘hidden’ area of Tokyo.

After coming out from Starbucks, instead than going back from the same way that I came from, the left and turn the corner, I decided to go right and follow my instinct. I crossed the road ignoring the department stores and kept going right. At the first big traffic light I turned left and walked along a long road.

Ginza Number 2

I could see straight away that the road I took was going to be a long one, but not that long. At first there was nothing really interesting that is worth writing in this blog. After about 10 minutes walk, on the left side of the road (my side) started appearing high end shops, the same sort of shops that I found earlier in the day at Ginza: Luis Vuitton, Armani and so on. And because I am not really into those kinds of ‘posh’ shops, I ignored them, I didn’t even take a single photo to them because I was not interested, even though I should have taken a couple just to put on this post (or page, whichever you are reading right now).

I Love the Adventure

Around half way of that road (I didn’t know at that point that I was half way through that road) I found a sign mentioning that by following that road I was going to reach Shibuya. I didn’t know about Shibuya, and looking at my train map that I had in my pocket, Shibuya was marked in bold and in bigger characters compared to those of most stations, indicating that it was one of the major areas in Tokyo.

Nearby I found a station, I really cannot remember right now the name, but it was going towards a different direction from the line that link all the major areas of Tokyo like a circle, it is similar as the Circle Line in London. Anyway,

“I was by myself in the middle of Tokyo and I couldn’t care less where I was going, the most important thing is that in which way I was going I would still find my way round and probably find places where tourists don’t go. I love the adventure.”

2nd Stop

I kept walking into the same direction, that road was actually long. After I completed 100% of that road (it took me more than 30 minutes), another sign was directing Shibuya on the right. It was another long big road, probably bigger than the other one that I just completed.

I crossed the road and went to Shibuya direction. After few minutes I had a very short break, guess what? I stopped for another cappuccino at a nearby Starbucks that was on the same side of the road where I was walking. After grabbing the coffee and leaving the coffee shop, I carried on walking.

UN Uni

I could see a large selection of restaurants on both sides of the road, the most of them were Japanese and a handful were American large chains such as Pizza Hut and so on. By that time, the sky was already getting dark and after about 30 minutes walk on the other side of the road I saw a the ‘University of the United Nations’!!! I didn’t know that the UN had universities. I learnt something new that day that is nothing to do with Japanese culture, but about the world security or safety or whatever you want to call it.

Reaching the Destination

Not far from the University of the United Nations the road started to divide in 2. Following my sense of orientation I kept walking on my side of the road rather than crossing the road and following the other path. The road soon after crossed with another one that if I was going left the road was going up-hill, however, I decided to go down-hill and few minutes later I reached the final destination: Shibuya Station. Yeahhhh!!!!!!!

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi

Evening planning

When I went back to the Ryokan from the pub on my second day in Japan, I got internet connection in my room through ADSL phone line. This was because the Ryokan didn’t offer wi-fi. I did a bit of research on internet where I could go the day after because it was going to be Monday and Mari had to work. I had to pass 2 full days in Tokyo by myself and meet Mari for dinner on Tuesday evening before leaving Tokyo for Kyoto.

I was willing to see if I could manage to see some cosplays and my research told me that I should go to Harajuku and looking on internet I found some other places to go, such as Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi department store and Ginza. After the research, I switched on the TV and watch a little bit of anime before going to bed. I had the whole night to think where to go first and how to plan my day, even though I really don’t like to plan in advance my travelling experience because I know that I can still find amazing places even without doing any research.

Monday morning travel

Looking at the train map in the morning, I realised that the best thing to do that made me waste less time, it was to visit the places that I had in my mind through a specific order, this would also allow me to visit more areas of London.

I decided that the first destination on my third day would be visiting one of the most imposing department stores in the world: Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi. Therefore, my first train stop would be Mitsukoshi Mae (or Mitsukoshimae) in the Nihonbashi area (‘Mae’ means ‘in front of’, ‘Nihon’ means ‘Japan’ and to be honest, I don’t know what ‘bashi’ means).

The travel has been a pleasant journey and looking outside of the window that monday morning, where the high rising building ended, the green of the Imperial Palace Garden started to show. At that point I realised that Tokyo was not only a city made from bricks and steel, but nature was also present in that amazing city. To make the journey more pleasant, the train that took me to destination was not crowded because I had just missed the rush hour so I could seat and relax on the train.

Imposing Building

I came out from the train station as soon as I arrived at destination. The exit was next to a big junction and in front of me, on the other side of the junction, I could see an imposing building, it was:

  • Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi department store!!!!

From the outside it looked impressive and perfect in design with its rounded front (as seen in picture 1).

Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi
(Picture 1: Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi)

Due to the large volume of traffic and waiting for the green traffic pedestrian light to come out, it took me few minutes to across the road (including the minute used to take the photo above).

Posh and Perfection

Once acrossed the road, I entered the building from the front door. Irasshaimase (welcome to our store) was heard from the people working as receptionists at the entrance. At that moment I realised that the interior must have been very posh. The receptionists were wearing smart and professional clothes.

Passed the reception, I decided to have a quick look at all floors. I didn’t get the chance to visit everything due to time constraint, however, I still managed to reach the top floor.

Everything inside the store seemed to be in the right place, if I have to name 1 or 2 department stores that can be compared, I would say Harrods and Selfridges in London. I didn’t really feel very comfortable to be inside a place like that and therefore my visit to the store was very short and I left soon after.

Next: (Walking Around Mitsukoshi)