I’ve seen my fair share of temples so I wasn’t sure if there were going to be any on my Tokyo bucket list. After speaking to my friend over dinner I quickly learnt the Meiji Shrine was the place to go. A quick rummage through my Lonely Planet book further backed this opinion and I decided to give it a shot.
For the first time since I arrived in Tokyo the sun was shining and it was a beautiful clear day. I made my way to Harajuku to see the shrine everyone was talking about.
I’ll give them their due, it really is stunning. It’s set in a huge park that I can’t believe isn’t even the biggest and most beautiful in the city. The shrine itself is ornate, respectful and meditative. It’s a far cry from the crowded, tour-filled, urban-locked temples in Hong Kong. It was fascinating to watch rituals being performed and people pay their respects. I was particularly drawn to the cleansing areas where we were all invited to follow the washing routines.
I took a walk in the shrine’s gardens where a group of elderly men with huge camouflaged cameras caught my eye. I approached to discover they were covering a bench with food and fake toy birds to attract the local wildlife. To their delight a small bird flew in to sample the goods on offer. As the men quietly raised their cameras to take a shot, I managed to trip over a rock and scare away any fauna for miles. Needless to say I was met with several disappointed glares and snook away back to the bushes.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking my socks off through Harajuku. I really enjoyed choosing random side streets to explore and poking my head into hipster shops and spying Japanese fashion. I eventually ended up walking back down to Shibuya where I experienced the crossing again, not in the rain this time, and finally gave in to the stationery shops.
My trip to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without a visit to some sort of weird and wonderful cafe. Luckily my friend Kimmie was ready to lend me a hand as she took me to visit maidreamin’ where we drank beer and ate peanuts in a strange, dingy building where women dressed as maids asked us to blow kisses and cheer on their dancing. It was as surreal as it sounds.