Trip of a Lifetime: Day 13 – Harajuku/Shinjuku Wanderings

Good morning Tokyo! Today was going to be a big walking day – so much to see and so little time!

We decide to head straight for Harajuku. The transport system is a bit challenging, but once you figure out all those amounts on the train map next to each station are prices from the station you are located, you start to get the hang of it.

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The sun is shining (a lot!) and we head through the heaving Takeshita street and head downa  quieter road to get some breakfast.

Lo and behold, we come across a ramen shop!

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The place is called Jingu, and we know this place will be good when we notice that a line has started to form – luckily we are first in line!

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A preview of what is to come – yum!

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Most restaurants open at 11:30am.  The doors open and we are shown to a machine where we press the buttons for what we want, and pay straight away.  Nice and efficient!  The price for both was about £4-5 per bowl

Eagerly waiting my ramen!

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I got the Tsukumen ramen broth

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They bring you two bowls, so you can add your broth when you want.

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This was also the day I discovered green tea beer – amazingly refreshing!

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As is tradition here, you should sign the walls – they give you pens

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After a wonderful lunch (and that fabulous green tea alcoholic drink) we decide to walk towards the Meiji Jingu and walk through the crazy busy streets of Harajuku, spying geishas and harajuku girls (and boys) brushing past one another..

20170528_153742It being the weekend, everyone is out in force and the mood is happy and frenetic, as is usually the case in Tokyo!

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Candy pink suits me well!

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I also bought some coloured contact lenses, as you need a prescription to get them in England, and the quality of lenses you get here is far superior in my opinion.

We stopped into a few stores to have a look around, including a 100 Y store – I am regretful that I only had hand luggage – there is so much cool shit in there, way better than a dollar store or 99p store for sure – great place to get souvenirs for cheap.

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We passed by a combination Owl/Cat café – excellent! I was hoping to go to one or both  and here they are in one establishment.  We pay about £12 for a combination ticket, which includes entry to each café and a hot drink.

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We start with the Owl café.

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The environment is decked out like some magical woodland forest.

 

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The lighting is dim and we have to follow the way of a path that circulates around the room, taking us past different types of owls.

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This one let me pet him

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This one was intense

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It was interesting to be that close to owls

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– we were also told we could touch them but only on their back and with the back of the hand – also approach them from the back – their beaks are sharp!  I tried it with a couple but they weren’t really having it, managed to get a couple of strokes in though!

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Overall it was slightly depressing, as all the owls were chained to their branches, which were just pieces of plastic painted to look like branches.  You can tell that the staff there do care for the animals, but still, what kind of life do they have compared to being free to roam the outdoors.

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The cat café was marginally better, but you can tell that these cats are so used to having patrons try and beckon them they are wholly uninterested.

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They ran around so much it was hard to get a good shot of them.

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There was a mama cat with her kitten babies in a cage, and one of them kept getting out!

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Kittens were soooo cute!

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This is the drink you get with your entry ticket

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There was also this dog store (maybe it was a pet store?)

You can book appointments to pet a dog – all for £8! (bit steep for an hour as you have to buy drinks too)

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Information for foreigners who want to pet a puppy

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After we left not as uplifted as we thought we would be after going to the animal café

After all those busy streets, we wanted a bit of respite.

Luckily the Meiji Jingu (shrine) was close by the station.

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Located in Yoyogi Park, the Shrine has different parts, like the Inner Garden, the actual shrine and a lot of lovely walks through the shaded forest.

 

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The beginning of the park is overshadowed by a very large imposing gate.  We walked along the wide path and ended up walking right into the shrine

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The main shrine area in the Inner Garden

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They make wine here too!

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Wonder how much a glass of red from there costs?

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It’s so lovely to have green space like this in the middle of the city. From inside the park you could barely hear the traffic and city noises outside.  The Japanese are very much into nature, there is even a  term for walking through forests, called shinrin-yoku (森林浴) literally meaning “forest bathing”

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We then took a turn into the Inner Garden, where we enjoyed a walk through numerous flower gardens,

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Lovely Koi fish – there were so many!

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Lilly pads that went on forever!

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and went to see a 16th century Edo Period well in the ground

IMG_20170528_130043(LPT not really worth the 5-10 minute wait, it’s basically a hole in the ground)

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So we bathed ourselves in the forest and surrounding nature, said a prayer at the shrine and after a bit of nature and people watching, felt ready and recharged to enter the fast paced world that lay outside.

And from plants to plastic, we walked until we spied the Kawaii Monster Café, a place that was on our lists of places to definitely try.

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The café is located up some escalators near the busy Shibuya crossing, and there was a few people waiting when we got up there. The entrance fee is around £5 per person and you are expected to order one drink and one food per person.

 

 

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The food here is pricey, but is to be expected for an establishment like this, you really are paying for all the pictures you get to take there.

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Crazy bathroom!  I am non showing you the toilet as I accidentally sprayed water all over the cubicle (I cleaned up after)

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Halfway through our meal all the lights went down and we were treated to a show of sorts featuring all the waiters and waitresses who are dressed very Harajuku and bring up members of the audience to dance on the crazy colourful kawaii carousel that is in the middle of the room. Cue crazy Japanese dancing!

The carousel where the dancing happened

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It was like being in Willy Wonka or something

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The cat food bowl I ordered for my “starter” was basically a big bowl of sugar

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I also tried a mad scientist drink, which entailed pouring sprinkles into a test tube, which overflows then you have to drink – again it sounded more fun than it was.

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I will say though that the food was not bad at all – considering how crazy it looked I was expecting something mediocre, but my spaghetti which look Technicolor and more out of a child’s painting than a food item, was a surprisingly good carbonara, with well cooked pasta.

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Obligatory selfies

 

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Bae thought it was like being in a surreal painting, or that “Dali on acid” designed the interior

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There are different sections you can sit in – you get cool tables if you are in a big group. like the red and blue cake booths below

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Usually because the restaurant is so busy you just get seated wherever comes up first – but you can walk around as much as you want.

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A creepy unicorn

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saying farewell to the Monster Café (for now)

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After the craziness of that café, we headed to a department store for a quieter browse.

Weird plush display for clothing line

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After some browsing around the clothes sections (boring!) We started down towards the basement – the real gem of the department store.

Every type of food you can imagine, and some you can’t imagine, is down here, all artfully and beautifully displayed, with very reasonable prices.

A Beautiful, organised chaos of smells

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The selection and quality of the prepared meals here are amazing!

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There are always quite a few lovely presentation displays, offering local specialities

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That’s a lot of sausage!

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The cake of my dreams!  They have a social KitKat counter

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The prettiest Key Lime I have ever seen!

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We got some of their fried chicken which was really good!

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Once we exited the store, we noticed a number of people dressed in white waiting.  After about 15 minutes a considerable crowd had formed, and the shrine was lifted onto many shoulders and they started marching down the street in a shuffling type dance.

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There was lots of shouty singing.  We tried to ask a few of the people what the whole thing was about but no one spoke English – and our Japanese is practically non-existent

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Another typical Tokyo street

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We noticed so many restaurants that had some mouth-watering plastic food displays.

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Tokyo’s plastic food game is strong!

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Most of these are actually made from wax (saw a docu on it)

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Even desserts!

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We walked off our food (again!) and walked around the city, stopping in a games place

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(where Bae won me a cute cat toy!

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And basically taking the long way back to our apartment – we also happened across a local beer and food truck festival so sampled some of the food there.

By the time we got back to Shin Okubo we were ready for sleep

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Tune in Tomorrow!

 

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