26
May 16

Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street

Date: 29th March 2015

The final post in a series of four on this one day! My day began at the East Gardens of the Tokyo Imperial Palace followed by a visit to the impressive Shunjuku Gyoen for more cherry blossom sightings and then to Harajuku/Yoyogi Park to check out the Sunday scene there.

To end my day of sightseeing, I next walked to the shopping streets of Harajuku.

Jingumae road Tokyo panorama

This is Jingumae Road, a major shopping hub in Omotesando. A lot of high end brands and shopping centers down this road.

Harajuku station evening Tokyo

That’s the classic exterior of Harajuku station

I was here mostly to check out Takeshita-dori (or Takeshita street).

Takeshita street Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Takeshita street is the main attraction in Harajuku’s shopping scene

Takeshita is a pedestrian-only street which has a mix of independent fashion store, bigger brands and the odd “wow, an entire shop for just this stuff?” Like the stores around Shibuya crossing, Takeshita-dori is another spot where a lot of Japanese youth fashion trends emerge.

Takeshita street shops Tokyo Japan

It sure was colourful and bright

Kit Kat bags Tokyo Japan

This is the lowest price I found Kit Kat bags for. Most other shops sell them for 249 yen on average.

Takeshita street Harajuku at night

It was an eclectic mix of shops here

Disney store Aita Harajuku Tokyo

You have stores selling Disney merchandise…

Bpoint anime store Harajuku Tokyo

…to anime and manga…

Boyband idol shop Harajuku Tokyo

…to an entire shop selling nothing but photos of Japanese male idols and boybands

Idol postcard shop Harajuku Japan

Just one more of those “only in Japan” kind of stores

The World Connection shop Harajuku Tokyo

This shop was mostly filled with classic American pop-culture memorabilia

Coca Cola shop Harajuku Tokyo

Another one of those fascinating shops you don’t find a whole lot of

Takeshita street Harajuku at night-tokyo

There are a bunch of eateries as well

Crepe shop Harajuku Tokyo

This eatery specializes in only crepes

Harajuku street Omotesando Tokyo

At the end of Takeshita Street and across the road is Harajuku Street. I didn’t feel like checking it out for some reason.

Harajuku at night street Tokyo

I took a right to explore the shops on this street

Kicks Lab shop Harajuku Tokyo

An entire store for kicks — a slang word for sneakers

Barbie store Harajuku Tokyo Japan

An exclusive Barbie store. Eesh.

Ralph Lauren shop Jingumae road Harajuku

I was now on Jingumae road. This is the Ralph Lauren store.

Christian Dior Moma design store Tokyo Japan

The white building is the exclusive Christian Dior store

Oriental Bazaar Omotesando Harajuku Tokyo

This shop is the Oriental Bazaar, one of the oldest souvenir shops in Tokyo

Japanese dolls Oriental bazaar Tokyo

They sell a whole range of souvenirs popularly associated with Japan — like dolls…

Kimono shop Omotesando Tokyo

… kimonos and yukatas…

Sushi magnet souvenirs Japan

… to magnets of all kinds. They had some interesting magnet designs I didn’t really find elsewhere around Tokyo. So I ended up buying some.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

There aren’t many large shopping malls in Tokyo, mostly due to how expensive land is in the city. So most shopping centers are mid-sized, like this one.

Line store Omotesando Harajuku Tokyo

LINE is the most widely used messaging app in Japan. Its mascots and stickers are so popular that they have shops selling merchandise featuring them.

Takeshita street crowded Tokyo night

I walked back to Takeshita street and ended up buying a shark hat at another of those store selling quirky items

I then walked to the Daiso store, which I planned to visit last. The Daiso in Harajuku is the largest in Tokyo. It’s three floors of mostly 100 yen goodness. I bought a bunch of stuff, some useful and some not so much — but I couldn’t resist the prices.

Maiko dolls Daiso Harajuku Tokyo

I had seen these Maiko dolls without boxes on display at many souvenir stores across Tokyo and Kyoto. I had seen prices go as high up as 5000 yen! Daiso had a bunch of them (not in every colour) for a 1000 yen. I had to buy one.

I planned to pick up some of those Kit Kat bags (mostly the green tea and cheesecake flavours) and guess what — all sold out! It was only an hour before I saw it first and now, all gone. Ugh.

Ramen shop payment vending machine

Dinner was back at Asakusa. I ordered a beef bowl and paid using the vending machine.

Noodle dinner miso soup Tokyo

It wasn’t the best meal I had. I should have had ramen instead.

And that’s the end of this rather long and hectic day. It was a lot but I saw and went around quite a bit. Just two more days to write about. For now, I had to give my feet some rest!

Previous posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen

Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River

Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple

Japan 2015: Shopping in Shinjuku, and exploring Kabukicho

Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku — views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more

Japan 2015: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom

Japan 2015: Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, leaving Himeji for Tokyo — and my last bullet train ride

Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show

Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza

Japan 2015: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time

 


12
May 16

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Date: 29th March 2015

My morning was spent sighting cherry blossoms aplenty — first at the East Gardens of the Tokyo Imperial Palace followed by a visit to the impressive Shunjuku Gyoen. From Shinjuku Gyoemmae station, I had to get to Harajuku station now.

Harajuku station Takeshita street

I could see the famous Takeshita street from the Harajuku station platform

Omotesando train station crowd Japan

I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday or not, but it took a while to get out of the station. There was a whole swarm of people going in either direction.

Meiji shrine entrance Japan

First up, a quick visit to Meiji Shrine

Wine barrels Meiji shrine Japan

Along the way were these displays of wine barrels on one side

Sake barrels Meiji shrine Japan

… and barrels of sake on the other side. These barrels of sake and wine (from France) were all gifts to the emperor of the Meiji era

Old sake barrels Meiji shrine Tokyo

I’m sure they’re empty now, but they do make for an impressive display

Meiji shrine torii Japan

It’s nearly a kilometer before you get to Meiji Shrine

Continue reading “Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park” »


27
Apr 16

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom sightings at Shinjuku Gyoen

Date: 29th March 2015

After a quick visit to the Tokyo Imperial Palace east garden, I was now going to visit Shinjuku Gyoen (gyoen = garden), which is one of the best venues in Tokyo to view cherry blossoms. I took the train to Shinjuku-gyoemmae station, took exit 2 and made my way to the Okido entrance — of many entrances to the garden.

Shinjuku Gyoen neighbourhood Tokyo Japan

The neighbourhood I was in was quite nice

Shinjuku Gyoen entrance Tokyo Japan

There was an entry fee of ¥200 (₹119/$1.8/€1.5)

Shinjuku gyoen glasshouse Tokyo Japan

There’s a glasshouse here. I would check it out later.

Shinjuku Gyoen hanami season Tokyo Japan

Shinjuku Gyoen is the largest public garden in Tokyo city

Large pink sakura tree Tokyo Japan

The reason why Shinjuku Gyoen is very popular for cherry blossoms is quite evident early on

Pink sakura tree Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

The selfie sticks were out in full force today

Shinjuku Gyoen in hanami Tokyo Japan

It was beautiful just walking around here

Child picking cherry blossom petals Japan

Kids all over the place were seen picking up petals

Pink sakura flower Hanami season Tokyo

Shades of pink were a more common sight

Picnic at Shinjuku Gyoen panorama

A panorama of the large ground here where many had set up picnic mats and were enjoying drinks and snacks

Large sakura tree Shinjuku Gyoen

It’s a beautiful setting to have a picnic anyway

Varieties of sakura cherry blossoms

Apparently there were more varieties of cherry blossoms besides my knowledge of “pink sakura” and “white sakura”

Glasshouse Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo Japan

I decided to quickly check out the glasshouse

Inside glasshouse Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

There is no separate entry fee for the glasshouse

Flowers glasshouse Tokyo Japan

The glasshouse was filled with a few exotic flowers

Echinocactus Shinjuku Gyoen glasshouse

And some plants which otherwise would not grow in Japan’s climate

Glasshouse interiors Shinjuku Japan

The glasshouse isn’t very big

Walkway glasshouse Shinjuku Tokyo

So I made my way back out

Greenhouses Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

There were more greenhouses outside but off-limits to visitors

Portable toilets Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

Colour-coordinated portable toilets. Or ‘sexist’ toilets according to some.

Sakura trees Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

Back to all the beautiful sakura all around

Picnic around sakura tree Shinjuku Gyoen

This sakura tree was very popular for photos, because it was quite low

Mithun white sakura tree Tokyo

I only had a brief few seconds to get a photo taken without anybody else in the frame

Sakura tree Shinjuku Gyoen crowds

You’d think I would have taken enough photos of the sakura by now

Kid bridge sakura tree Japan

But wherever I walked, there was some frame or sight that just had to be captured on camera

Shinjuku Gyoen lake Tokyo Japan

Photographers Shinjuku Gyoen hanami season

Amateur and professional photographers were out in full force

Shinjuku Gyoen cherry blossom lake Japan

Man painting shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

It’s not just photographers who were making the most of the beauty all around

Shinjuku Gyoen lake bridge panorama

Vistors bench Shinjuku Gyoen hanami season

Shinjuku garden lake Tokyo Japan

I could just sit here all day and take in the views… if only it wasn’t cold and all grey

Sakura flower trees Hanami Shinjuku

A little sunlight would have made the colours pop a bit more

Large cherry blossom tree Shinjuku garden

I walked around a bit more

Cherry blossoms in hanami season Japan

I imagined what it would be like, to be a bird or a butterfly, and see the cherry blossoms in a different light

Small bird cherry blossom tree Japan

Enjoy sights of spring little birdie!

Cherry blossom tree Shinjuku garden Tokyo

Many of these trees are decades old

Big sakura Shinjuku garden during Hanami

You don’t get much time, the full sakura bloom only lasts about a week or two

Kimono girl posing sakura Japan

So everybody makes the most of it and get their special photos taken

Couples Shinjuku Gyoen in spring

Mirror lake reflection Shinjuku garden

It was time to head back out to the concrete jungle

Dead trees Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

What are these trees?

Line of trees Shinjuku garden Tokyo

There was an entire row of them

Lawn Shinjuku garden Tokyo Japan

I headed back

Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo garden lake

Even on the way out I couldn’t help but take some more photos

Reflection in water Shinjuku Gyoen Japan

Pink sakura reflection Shinjuku Gyoen bridge

Seriously — sakura sighting in Japan is like no other

Shinjuku Gyoen is undoubtedly one of the best places to come and soak in a rich cheer blossom sighting. I’m glad I got to experience it at full bloom, even if the sun was shy today. Paying 200 yen is well worth the price of admission. Ueno Park, where I returned to the next day, is also amazing so look forward to that post.

Okido gate Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo

I went out the same gate

Shinjuku Gyoemmae road Tokyo

Fairly residential area

Comodo kitchen Shinjuku street Tokyo

It was well past lunchtime and I wondered where to eat

Curry naan restaurant Tokyo

There was this corner store called Curry-Naan. I didn’t plan on having Indian food but the thought of having hot, familiar taste in this cold weather tempted me to go inside.

Inside curry naan restaurant Shinjuku

The place was really small. Three tables and the rest were counter seats, where I sat down. One of the tables was occupied by a group of Malayalis. What are the odds!

Curry naan plate Shinjuku eatery

A single naan with a little chicken kheema curry and lassi for dessert cost ¥730 (₹435/$6.5/€5.8)

All said and done, my tummy felt satisfied and I waited for the drizzle to subside before I walked to the subway station. Next stop: Harajuku. Part two of four posts on this one day is complete!

Next post(s) in this series:

Japan 2015: Harajuku on a Sunday – Meiji shrine and Yoyogi Park

Japan 2015: Harajuku at night — Takeshita Street

Previous posts in this series:

Japan 2015: Cherry blossoms at Tokyo Imperial Palace east garden

Japan 2015: Boat ride to Odaiba; giant Gundam statue at DiverCity Mall

Japan 2015: Cherry blossom celebrations by Sumida River

Japan 2015: Denboin garden, near Sensoji Temple

Japan 2015: Shopping in Shinjuku, and exploring Kabukicho

Japan 2015: Nishi-Shinjuku — views from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building sky deck

Japan 2015: Shibuya – the busiest crossing in the world, and home to a loyal dog

Japan 2015: Ueno Zoo – pandas, a lonely polar bear, and more

Japan 2015: Nakamise street, Senso-ji temple, and Ueno Park sakura at half-bloom

Japan 2015: Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, leaving Himeji for Tokyo — and my last bullet train ride

Japan 2015: Himeji Castle, and the unexpected air show

Japan 2015: Kyoto Station, and arriving at Himeji by shinkansen

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Monkey Park in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Gion Corner Cultural Show

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Dera temple

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and climbing to the mountain top

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Japan 2015: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Japan 2015: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Japan 2015: Walking around Akihabara and Ginza

Japan 2015: Going to Akihabara, and spending way too much time in Yodobashi Akiba

Japan 2015: Landing in Tokyo… and using a communal bath for the first time

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