Parliament, Shrines, Crossings, Beer and Hounds
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 7 of 15 › view all entries
The next day, after we finally staggered out of bed, we hit the town again for our last full day in Tokyo before we headed south. Our plan was to start at the Diet Building, maybe get a tour of the Japanese parliament before heading off to the Beer Museum in Ebisu for, well, some 'culture' of a different kind. Well, that was the plan; all the best laid and all that...
After a bit of getting lost in the sweltering heat of the Japanese summer we homed in on the Diet building; a very imposing, slightly boxy structure. As we managed to approach it from the back, we had to climb a reasonably steep hill that ran up the side.
Plan one down the tubes, we improvised. We headed to the Shinto Hie shrine, a very stunning complex of buildings on top of a hill. The path up is lined with hundreds of Torii gates and trees; increasing the slightly mystic almost surreal feeling of going to another world.
The thing I love about the shrines in Tokyo (and all of Japan), is that while their look positively ancient in places they're used almost continually.
Sitting under a tree, looking at the large lanterns and coloured Torii gates; chugging down as much liquid as my bladder would allow was very pleasant. Alas, deep meditation had to wait; there were sights to see and a bladder to empty...
From the peace of Hie, we moved on to Yasukuni Shrine.
The Torii leading in to the shrine is a sight to behold. It's twenty-five metres tall, and over thirty wide. It straddles the path making those entering the shrine feeling suitably small and insignificant. Once inside their is a long path leading to the Honden, where the kami or spirits of dead are housed. Along the tree lined path their are numerous little memorials - some of which are very touching.
The Honden itself is understated - which, depending on your view - seems suitable for a memorial and home to dead spirits.
We skirted the imposing walls of the imperial palace, surrounded by the green river of algae and multitude of colourful dragonflies and birds before jumping on the metro across town to Ebisu, home of the promised beer museum. The logic was such: if there is a museum to beer, there must be beer. Simple.
Energised by the air-con in the subway, and the promise of a tall foamy one we leapt into action in Ebisu. We headed across the long covered walkway with a purpose; striding forward and bowling unwary Japanese to one side.
To any passer-by we must have looked pretty desperate, slumped on the path looking mournfully at the door to the promised land cruelly slammed shut in our faces.
"I told you we should have come yesterday," someone remonstrated.
"It doesn't say it shuts on Monday in the book... wait, yes it does."
Two synchronised sighs.
However, we weren't to be defeated by the vagueries of the Japanese opening hours. After a whistle stop tour of the area (i.e. walking off in the hope of finding beer before getting lost and ending up back where we started) we found ourselves at the aptly named Beer Station.
Suitably pickled, we consulted the LP again for something to while away the evening with. We poured over pages, whilst simultaneously pouring more beer into our gullets. "Aha!" My companion cried, "here's something... shrine... to a dog! Of all things..." He'd said enough. Off we raced.
Our destination turned out to be Shibuya. We got off the subway in what seemed to be another underground city. Reasoning, correctly despite inebriation, that the shrine was likely to be outside, we headed up the nearest flight of stairs marked exit. Sadly, this led us into a very tall, but very thin mall. Not only that, but smack in the middle of the women's underwear section.
Outside, Shibuya crossing presented itself in all its neon glory. Huge signs lit up the night; hordes of people scurried too and fro, or stood patiently waiting for the lights to halt the streams of traffic. Music blared from a large TV on the corner of a building. It was mental.
"Right," my mate said, undaunted. "Dog - this way!" He strode off into the mass. I followed. we went round. And round. And round a bit more.
"I think this is where we started," I said timorously.
"Do you? Damn, I thought so too. Well, lets try again. This way!" We proceeded off in the same direction.
This process continued just long enough to be reminiscent of the film Groundhog Day, until, completely by accident we found the statue. The problem turned out to be we were looking for something huge, possibly neon and flashing. Hachiko, the dog in question was rather smaller. He was honoured for turning up to the station to wait for his master every day for ten years to wait for his master.
Suddenly we stumbled on an Irish pub. Japanese Guinness? Worth a try surely? Many beers later we stumbled back onto the subway to Ginza. It was Kyoto the next day.