This is a detailed post of my 2 weeks long solo backpacking trip to Japan. Please see preview and itinerary/index of my complete trip on this post.
Day 10 – Tokyo
Train system in Tokyo
Tokyo has one of the most dense network of trains and subway. Almost all popular city centers are covered by trains and subways. Japan has private train operators along with government owned Japan Rail. There is no one suitable pass to traverse in Tokyo so i decided to buy tickets on adhoc basis. Thankfully all stations have a big map which provides detail about different routes and connectivity through different operators. We can buy one single ticket which allows traveling over different operators along the route. Initially it was a bit difficult to make sense of maps and stations but it got better with time. All trains had a small screen inside each coach which indicate current and next platforms. In-fact i found train system fascinating in Japan. There are huge number of platforms on Shinjuku and Shibuya stations and I ended up loosing my way multiple times in my entire stay in Tokyo.
Catch up with a BCMtian
I have known Naveen from couple of years. His amazing blogs from Japan are a real treat to watch. I was constantly in touch with him regarding planning my trip. He patiently helped in answering all my queries. So meeting him was imperative. I dropped by his office before beginning my day exploring Western Tokyo. He is a fellow BCMTian and very warm hearted person. We had a coffee and discussed about life in Japan and Singapore against that in India. Well after a couple of hours of discussion I bid good bye to Naveen and proceeded to my next destination.
Meiji Shrine or Meiji Jingu is located near JR Yamanote Line’s Harajuku Station. Since I was pretty near to Shunjuku Station, I opted to walk. Shrine has a huge Park adjacent to it. I could see a few blooming cherry trees in the park. Main shrine is actually ten minutes walk from entry to the park. There are tori gates on all entrances to the shrine. Main complex of Meiji Shrine has large open space. Visitors to the shrine can make offerings at the main hall. I could see a few visitors writing out wishes on an wooden plank. These wooden planks can be bought from nearby stores. People generally wish for good health and happy families. These wooden planks called “Ema” can be found in all Shinto Shrines. Presence of “Ema” and “Torii gates” are an indicator that Shrine follows Shinto faith. Meiji Shrine is the busiest Shrine of Tokyo.
Harajuku, fashion hub of younger generation
Harajuku area lies between Shinjuku station and Shibuya Station. It is a hub of fashion for young college goer. I would rather say Harajuku seems altogether different world. From suit wearing people in Shinjuku Station to tattoo wearing young people in Harajuku was a big transition. I went to Takeshita Dori (Street). Takeshita is beaming with young people and small shops filled with fashionable clothes. I found Takeshita to be a good place to buy some T Shirts or souvenirs. I bought a few T Shirts myself. Whole environment in Harajuku is lively and all business seems to cater to young generation only. It was good to peak into life of younger citizens of Japan. I would let pictures do the talking about some interesting aspects of Takeshita Dori.
Shibuya, busiest crossing in the world
After some street photography, I made my way to Shibuya. I had seen some pictures from the crossing that are symbolic to corporate culture in Tokyo. It is said, 3000 people cross the road at once in peak office hours here. And man, it is so true. I have never seen so many people crossing the road at once. It looked like flash flood of people. I wanted to have a view of the crossing from a higher point. I read in a blog about nice views from 25th floor of the Shibuya Excel Hotel. Though I was not staying there I decided to give it a shot. As i reached 25th story a couple of security asked me about I am staying in hotel or just passing by. Looks like they anticipated my intentions. I asked them if they could allow me to click few picture through the window, to which they gracefully denied and I had to come down dejected.
Another suggested place to watch the crossing is a Starbucks cafe but finding a seat next to window is nearly impossible. So i finally decided to go a nearby over head bridge which had a “not so nice” view but definitely better than no view at all. Over head bridge had a glass fencing all along and clicking through a glass is really a pain. So i made a quick timelapse and few images, before heading down.
I met another photographer from Italy who was busy clicking a timelapse from road divider. We talked about our journeys across Japan and this was the first I felt I could associate myself to serious visitors unlike times when i used to visit place only for three or four days. My two weeks travel plan made people took my trip seriously nonetheless.
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