We checked out of our hotel in Nagoya at around 9AM and made it to Nagoya Station in fifteen minutes, only to find out that the JR Pass office doesn’t open until 10:30AM — which is a major bummer. The good thing though is that you can still get your pass exchanged at a regular Midori no Madoguchi — just make sure you check with the Pass Office on which regular ticketing window you should head for as ordinary windows cannot do the exchange.
We were soon speeding our way to Tokyo, and made excellent time thanks to the Hikari Shinkansen high speed rail system. We were already in Ikebukuro in just a little over two and a half hours, and we managed to check into our favorite hostel Kimi Ryokan in just fifteen minutes. There our pocket wifi device and our travel documents for Kyoto were waiting for us, so after just a quick once-over we were back out in the streets and headed for Harajuku.
In Harajuku, we made our usual stop at Meiji Shrine. We purchased a new set of omamori or shrine amulets — which is turning out to be one of our favorite omiyage or souvenirs, as folks back home swear to their effectiveness. We also offered up an ema or wooden tablet to give thanks for another visit to the beautiful country of Japan. It’s rituals like these that give additional meaning to every trip, and we hope to be able to do it again multiple times in the near future.
Girls will be girls, and one of the best things about Harajuku is the shopping! Takeshita Doori is one long alley filled with everything a girl can ever wish for: dresses, tops, bottoms, shoes, bags, wallets, accessories, plush toys, make-up, fragrance, crepes, and boyband photos. The fragrances in particular were a pleasant surprise: the Takeshita Doori branch of pharmacy chain Matsumoto Kiyoshi was offering authentic designer fragrances at bargain prices. Best of all, Matsumoto Kiyoshi offers tax rebates for foreign tourists with any purchase over JPY 5001.
Another fantastic score was at the Harajuku branch of H&M — we managed to get two tops for just JPY 300! JPY 300! I usually spend more than JPY 300 on vending machine drinks — uhmayzing ❤ we scored so many good deals, we were able to pop by Kiddyland to pick up a few more souvenirs. But despite checking out so many neat things like the fashion fundoshi (they put the fun in fundoshi!) and miniature papercraft scenes from Japan’s recent past, we walked out empty-handed. Maybe we’ll have better luck in Akihabara?