With Day Zero behind me (it technically does not count since I spent most of my time in transit), it was time to hit the train tracks and do the Tokyo shop crawl. Whenever I find myself in Japan, I always make it a point to visit Harajuku at least twice — at the beginning, and near the end of the trip.
It’s not just for the shopping — it’s mostly to visit Meiji Shrine, and give thanks for another fun and fulfilling adventure in ye olde Nihon. This trip was no exception, as I helped friends and travel companions navigate their way down Takeshita Doori, up Cat Street, and back around for Meiji Bridge and the Shrine.
The walk to the shrine was serene and pleasantly crunchy — you’ll understand what I meant when you walk on the wide gravel-strewn, tree-lined path from the main torii to the inner recesses of the shrine. You will literally hear the city peel away as you walk further in, giving you the illusion that the madness of the national holiday crowds (Shunbun no Hi, or Vernal Equinox) did not exist.
Yes, those are empty sake (Nihonshu) barrels called kazaridaru. Many of Japan’s finest breweries usually send some booze over to the shrine for blessing, and recently the trend has spilled over to French wine producers, whose barrels are lined opposite the kazaridaru. It goes without saying that the offerings are quaffed in various religious ceremonies. Who said Shinto priests didn’t know how to have a good time?
After poking around the shrine stalls selling amulets (o-mamori) and fortunes (o-mikuji) — where the pretty priestesses divested us of several hundred yen, prettily — we came across another wedding. Like my previous visit, I felt uneasy about taking photos of the wedding party, even if my fellow tourists were brazenly snapping away. It just didn’t feel right — it was like a personal affront to the bride, but maybe that’s just me.
After posting a thanksgiving tablet (e-ma) and a few more pictures, it was off to Shibuya for one last push before the shops closed for the day.
Continued in Day 1: Evangelion Store Tokyo 01 and Shibuya.