#11: Go up the Tokyo Tower & #72: Visit the Meiji Shrine
It’s now my sixth day in Tokyo, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. The sheer amount of people is still overwhelming for me at times, but at least I can catch a train now and not get lost! I hunger for some things like New Zealand dairy products (you can buy ‘fake’ camembert here, but it’s a joke) and yogurt… but unfortunately, it’s going to be some time before I see a Mainland or Waimate cheese again! I’ve been steadily chipping away at my bucket list, though, in the company of some awesome backpackers from the hostel I’m staying in.
The whole affair has gone fairly smoothly so far, and I have very few disasters to report– apart from getting lost at 10pm on my way home from Shibuya, which involved a fairly tearful and disjointed explanation to a policeman in a kouban (policebox). In the end I managed to get back by following the train, so if you get lost in Tokyo- retrace your steps, or go back to the train station and start again! I have asked so many Tokyoites for directions since I’ve come here and they’re insanely kind/helpful. You will never be left wanting. (:
I wasn’t particularly excited for Tokyo Tower, simply because I’m from NZ and we have our own Skytower in Auckland, which I reckon is higher– there are glass floors that almost made me pee myself they’re so high up. Tokyo Tower was a nice experience and it was good getting to see the Tokyo skyline, so I do recommend it if you have time!
It cost ¥810 to go the first observation deck which is 150m above ground, and then it costs another ¥500-600 to go to the second deck, which is 250m up. I didn’t go that far because 1.) it didn’t seem that much further and 2.) the wait was 7o minutes to go up there! I think it was so busy for us because we went at the best time (sunset!) but we weren’t prepared to spend that much more for so little value. And waiting.
The best time to go was definitely around 5-6pm (winter is just ending here in Japan), so you get to see beautiful views of the sunset of Mt. Fuji, as in the above photo! To get there, it’s an easy walk from Akanebashi Station, which is one of the Metro stops, and there is a delicious crepe shop at the foot of the tower which I highly recommend! Personally, I got a chocolate/banana/cream/icecream crepe, which was kinda the best thing I’d eaten all day!
We were lucky enough to see the tower in daylight and at night-time, which was awesome! Lit up, the tower looks insanely beautiful. After stopping by a jidouhanbaiki (vending-machine) and buying a hot bottle of tea, we headed back.
It was a little unintentional that I ended up at the Meiji Shrine in Harajuku, but I’m glad that I went! Originally I went to Harajuku on the Sunday to take photos of cosplayers/visual kei fashion aficionados on the Jingu bridge, but there didn’t seem to be anyone there but these awesome guys:
Intrigued, myself and Mayumi (a backpacker I’m sightseeing with!) went over and hugged them– well, I got a hug from the lady second from the right, but Mayumi insisted on hugging every one of them. When I asked the lady who hugged me なんでこれをしていますか？ (why are you doing this?), she replied that they wanted to put smiles on people’s faces– gorgeous! I wish there were more people that kind-hearted in the world. Anyway, there were no cosplayers there, so searching for something to do, we looked to the end of Jingu bridge– and there sat Meiji shrine! So, off we went.
Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his Empress, and the architecture is simply gorgeous. We went on a very fine day, so it definitely helped! To get to Meiji Shrine, you can catch the Yamanote Line to Harajuku, then turn right as you leave the station. Keep going straight and eventually you’ll see the Jingu bridge, and the shrine is at the end of that!
Phew! The Meiji Shrine is free to enter, though if you want to go into the garden there, it costs ¥500. We didn’t because it was only a garden (sorry!) and there’s still a lot I have to do in Tokyo, but it looked beautiful from the outside!