At the Edo-Tokyo Museum
On Friday, we saw so much! We ran around all day hopping on the metro from one stop to another to pack in a lot of sights and neighborhoods. We bought one day passes for the train and decided to start by visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum. This museum chronicles what it was like for people that lived here beginning with the finding of Edo in 1590 through 1964, when Tokyo hosted the Olympics. There were whole communities built to depict how people lived and passed their days here. There were many school children at the museum and several English-speaking tourists.
After spending a few hours at the museum, we took the train to Harajuku.
This is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Tokyo (which Gwen Stefani sings about in one of her songs). Larry and I planned on visiting one of the Shinto shrines in this neighborhood. We had also looked up a recommended sushi restaurant in our guide book and we found one in Harajuku. When we got off the train at Harajuku, we first walked through the forest park in Yoyogi to get to the Shinto Shrine. The Meiji Jingu Shrine is one of Tokyo’s most respected shrines. It was opened in 1920 in honor of Emperor and Empress Meiji. There are two large toriis, traditional entry gates to a shrine that lead the way to the shrine itself. The Shrine itself is large and looks very traditional made of Japanese cypress and topped with green-copper roofs. There was a guard in the shrine itself controlling people so they wouldn’t make noise or take pictures inside the actual shrine. Leading up to the shrine were also these beautiful lamp posts that were lit up.
Figures of traditional Japenese women (notice the white socks with sandals)
It was a gorgeous walk through the forest and into the shrine. Everyone was so quiet inside the shrine.
This was a lady's foot (Yes - I was taking pictures of people's feet at the musem)
After visiting the shrine, we walked through the streets in Harajuku. Wow! What a busy and energetic area. Harajuku was filled with Japanese people, teeny boppers and tourists who were all combing shops for the latest fashions. The area is filled with cafes, boutiques, accessory stalls and street vendors selling everything from clothing, to socks, to jewelry to French Crepes. There were just masses of people everywhere you looked. I don’t know if it was because it was a Friday night, or what, but what a busy place. There were people dressed in the most bizarre, and fashionable manner.
Larry and I are still amazed at the craze over the short skirts and shorts (when it’s freezing outside).
Here especially, you saw many of the women and even girls that looked too young, wearing shorts and mini-skirts over leggings with huge platform shoes or stiletto heels. I was shocked at the shoes some women were wearing. How do they walk in those things? We also saw people with all kinds of crazy hair styles, and hair colors. There were punk rockers in neon fuchsia, purple and blue colored hair. It was so neat seeing how crazy the fashions were here. I told Larry I could see my niece being here and thinking some of these fashions were cool, though I’m not sure her mother would let her wear some of this stuff. After walking around and taking it all in, Larry and I went to the Oriental Bazaar, which is a two-story souvenir shop. We then headed to the restaurant recommended in our tour guide book. It was AWESOME!
The light post near the shrine
We went to a fast-food sushi bar, Heirokuzushi, where plates of sushi are conducted along a conveyor belt on a counter.
The plates whizz by customers, and customers are welcomed to grab whatever plates they want to eat. Then the customers are charged by the number and type of plates they grab. So there are green plates, blue plates, red plates, black plates and multi-colored plates. Each type of plate is priced differently (for example, all the green plates were 130 Yen). You grab whatever you like and eat up. I ate mostly salmon and shrimp sushi plates, while Larry was a little more adventurous. He was my guinea pig. If I wanted to try something, I’d ask him to grab a plate and taste it for me first. Then he’d tell me if he thought I would like it. It was so awesome. We must have eaten a ton of sushi. I even ate it all with chopsticks! We were in sushi heaven!
In front of the shrine
After having enough sushi, we walked around some more in Harajuku and grabbed dessert at a crepe stand.
The entrance leading up to the shrine
After this we took the train to Shinjuku to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building where you can go to the top for a great view of the city. There were many tourists here waiting to take the elevator to the 45th floor. It is said on a clear day, people can even see Mount Fuji from the observatory here, though since it was late at night, we only saw the many lights to the skyscrapers and other buildings in Tokyo.
Once we were done taking in the lights of the city, we took the train to Roppongi. Roppongi is a neighborhood in Tokyo that is known for its night life.
Apparently this neighborhood attracts many tourists, English-language teachers, foreigners and the ritzy Japanese people. It’s supposed to be a popular nighttime hangout. Well, Larry and I walked around there for a little. It’s full of bars and nightclubs. There were men standing every few feet luring other single men into their clubs. Larry said he thought the men were luring customers in to be with women. At least this was his guess. I just thought there was too much going on and some of it looked sketchy to me. So Larry said, ok. We came, we saw, we conquered, let’s get out of here now. And off we went. It was late, we were tired from a busy day and there was just too much going on in Roppongi for us to handle. We planned our Saturday outings and called it a day!