After our brief sojourn into the mountains, we were ready for another action packed day of sightseeing in Tokyo. We had three planned attractions to visit for the day: the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Meiji Jingu, and Yoyogi Park. These were back in the Shinjuku/Shibuya area where we were wandering around on our first day, but this time the weather was much nicer so we were looking forward to doing a bit of walking.
Our day began, as usual, with breakfast at 7-Eleven on the way to the subway station. The train ride back to Shinjuku was crowded, and the thick press of people mixed with the cacophony of city sounds soon had us pining for the peace and isolation of Takao-san.
Stop 1: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
We arrived at Shinjuku station and took a nice stroll over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The main attraction here is the observatory on the 45th floor which is free to access. When we arrived there was a line stretching outside the building with a sign informing us that there was a half hour wait to get to the elevator. The time passed pretty quickly and before we knew it we were on our way up.
The views from the top were very nice and we were glad we had waited until a sunny day for this. The room was filled with expensive souvenir shops, as well as an exhibit for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which will be held in Tokyo. After getting our necessary Tokyo skyline (if you can really call it that) pics, we took the elevator back down and set off to our next stop. On the way we stopped for a really tasty, veggie friendly lunch at Nagi Shokudo. There were a few set lunch options to choose from. Alana had the curry and I had the fried (not) chicken.
Stop 2: Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park
The Meiji Jingu, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Tokyo, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji. The area has the feeling of big park. In fact, from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building it is a plainly visible swath of green in the midst of all the congestion of Tokyo. The view from above reminded me of the appearance of Central Park in the middle of New York.
The buildings in the area are sparsely located and austere in their design. The shrine closes at sunset, and it was already a little later in the day when we were there, so the crowds weren’t really bad. Even so, the walkways were very broad and the tall trees blocked out the bustle and clutter from the surrounding city. This made for a very relaxing and pleasant afternoon stroll.
Yoyogi Park is located right next to Meiji Jingu (its the same big patch of green as seen from in the picture above). Before becoming a park it was the site of the Olympic Village for the 1964 Olympics. We had the impression that this would be a really nice place for a picnic. There were a lot of large open spaces with people playing frisbee, tag, making human pyramids, and a host of other outdoor activities. It didn’t feel like as much of a sightseeing destination, but like it would be a fun place to hang out with friends on the weekend.
Stop 3: Harajuku
This wasn’t one of our planned destinations for the day, but we found ourselves in the area after leaving Yoyogi Park and Alana insisted on taking some time to explore. Depending on who you ask, this section of Tokyo was either a cool shopping destination or a complete nightmare (you can guess who thought what). We made our way into the massive throng of people teeming inside the alley that is Takeshita Dori, Alana flitting from store to store, her eyes glowing as they do only when the fire that hungers for discount clothing has been ignited in her soul, while I trudged along in the background, somehow always managing to be cut off by or fall behind a pack of wayward shoppers.
Eventually something more tempting than all the trendy clothing on display caught Alana’s eye. There was a little shop selling massive spools of cotton candy on the second floor of a building. We went inside and joined the line that wrapped around the entire perimeter of the shop. We didn’t get far before we saw the price tag and quickly changed our minds. It was a whopping $9 for this paper cone topped with sugar and air. As big of a cotton candy fan as Alana may be, we just couldn’t condone such a big splurge.
For dinner we stopped by Zen for some okonomiyaki, which is kind of like a big omelette or pancake. There are a whole host of ingredients that are mixed together, battered, and then fried on a large griddle. It is served and eaten with a little spatula that you can use to chop it up and toss the pieces into your mouth. It was also served with a side of potato salad, which I enjoyed and Alana didn’t, so I enjoyed hers as well. We were both pretty tired by the time we were finished up with dinner, so we hopped on the subway back to our AirBnb. We had done a lot of walking and we had an early start planned for our next exciting adventure the following day.
Be sure to check out the rest of the pics on our instagram!