Harajuku, Meiji Jingu & The Last Bench in Tokyo

One of the "must see" areas of Tokyo, Meiji Jingu sports massive gates at every entrance, and a forest built specifically as a  sacred ground for the Meiji Emperor and Empress’s spirits to roam in after their deaths.

As today is Nicky’s last real day in Tokyo, we kind of turned it into a last, mad rush to see what was left to see in Tokyo. Therefore, we explored Harajuku, went to Meiji Jingu and found the Hachiko statue in Shibuya. 

I got to Harajuku a bit earlier than Nicky, so walked down the main drag for a bit. It was really hot (apparently we’ve been experiencing the greatest heat wave in Japan since they started recording the temperatures! 118 people in Tokyo alone have died from heat stroke...) so I escaped into a large Daiso store for a drink and to look around. In the upstairs portion, I found a whole bunch of craft supplies for a dollar each, so bought a bunch of felt to make Nicky a surprise to keep with her in Kyoto while we’re apart. I already know what I want to make her, and will get started on it directly after I finish this post, kekeke!

Harajuku itself is a pretty cool place, but there’s simply too many people. I would have liked to look around longer, but when you get pushed and shoved from every angle, its really hard to enjoy yourself or take pictures... such a shame!

When Nicky arrived, we headed over to Meiji Jingu, where the first order of business was the gift shop. I bought a small white raccoon keychain, a magnet and a spoon for Nicky’s collection~ I’m slowly amassing a small hoard of Japanese memorabilia items, and am very proud of myself for spending so little money on unnecessary things in Tokyo.

One of the cool things you have to pass on your way into the park is a wall of old sake barrels~ There was also a billboard that sported some of the poetry Emperor Meiji had written in his lifetime, and maybe when I’m feeling more inclined, I’ll translate it.

The shrine itself is really pretty; calm and quiet, and one of the things I love about shinto shrines is that they’re unpainted. You get the wood’s natural colors, and the iron’s age shows beautifully. Compared to the colorful temple in Yokohama’s Chinatown, this place is a different world, not just a different culture.

We stayed long enough to write down a prayer and post it to the tree, before making an offering in the temple. I almost bought a little scholarship shrine for my desk, but refrained as I’ll probably be able to get one in Kyoto. We made our way out of the park after that, and since Nicky has a lot of packing to do, we decided to call it a day. On the way back to the station though, we decided to walk to Shibuya, instead of taking the train, as you -can- walk from one area of the city to the next relatively easily. The train system makes the distance feel pretty deceptive. We walked from Yoyogi to Shibuya, and on the way, we found a bench! These are exceptionally rare in Tokyo, unless you pay a price of admission into a train station or park first, so we had a small break there before continuing on our way.

In Shibuya, I remembered that we hadn’t yet seen the Hachiko statue. Hachiko is a Akita dog who is known throughout Japan for his faithfulness to his master. Every day, the dog and his master would meet at the train station after the man got off work, but one day the old master did not return. Hachiko continued to return to the station every day for nine years until his own death in 1935. The story is more impressive than his statue, unfortunately, as the place is littered with too many smokers and punks to be enjoyed. The wall mural about 100 feet away is far better, in my own opinion.