Things to Do on a Summer Trip to Tokyo: Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Shibuya

Day 2 was kind of Tokyo-drifting day 1 proper, that being our first full day to roam the city. Our hosts said we arrived in Tokyo at a very opportune time, just after the heat wave had come and gone (32+ degrees! Boiling heat just days before). It was cloudy and a bit dry that day, and we left the cool comfort of our air-conditioned apartment for the great outdoors.

Searching for enlightenment at the Meiji Shrine. The Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine right smack in the middle of the city, only a few steps away from Yoyogi Station. It was not only a sanctuary for believers searching for enlightenment, but to pedestrians seeking refuge from the angry sun as well, thanks to the canopy of trees that protected the grounds. Stepping through the gate, we already felt as if we’ve been transported elsewhere. Must be the nature, and the respectful silence, and the rhythmic sound of feet plodding gently on the earth, but corny as it may seem, it really was a space of peace. We could have stayed there all day. And given how massive the place was, we could have been lost there all day too. But since we had a few more places we wanted to see, Hazel and I studied our map (got it free from the shrine entrance), and stuck to the route that led to the Main Shrine.


One of the many torii gates in the shrine. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.


A wall of sake, all donated to the shrine. Not for drinking, sadly. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.


Trying to maneuver the wide expanse of the shrine (trying not to get lost). Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.

When we finally arrived at the Main Shrine, we were greeted firstly by the large, main torii that led to the yard. To our left was the Temizuya, where you pay respects to the shrine by following the cleansing ritual:

  1. Rinse your left hand, rinse your right hand,
  2. Pour water into your left hand and rinse your mouth,
  3. Rinse your left hand and rinse the dipper.

To the right of the yard, we found a wooden railing of sorts surrounding a huge tree, where they hung wood blocks that contained prayers of visitors. I didn’t want my fervent wishes displayed there for the world to see, so I made do with giving an offering to write my prayer in a small slip of paper, deposited to a closed box. Further on was the main shrine, and closer to the gate was a small shop for blessed charms and other souvenirs.


The free leaflet gave instructions on how to do this cleansing ritual, but we wanted to observe locals do it instead. Didn’t want to accidentally disrespect the place. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.


Approaching the main shrine. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.

Searching for kawaii and crepes in Harajuku, Takeshita Street. After that short trek (which was kind of a pain in the feet, because soil and small pebbles!) we headed back to the chaos of the city. Hazel’s only wish was to find kawaii stuff, so of course there was only one place to be for that.


You know you’re in Japan when you see manga on the streets. On the way to Takeshita-dori. Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.

It was a short walk down the street, and we read from street signs and our handy map to lead us there, until we finally arrived at Takeshita-dori in Harajuku. It was basically a small network of narrow streets selling the cutest things on earth, from socks and skin care, to Sailor Moon contact lenses (!!!), to clothes and shoes, to frilly, overly padded bras and even toys and stationery (a Sanrio store!). My first thought coming in was, “I may be too old for a lot of these stuff.” But that didn’t mean I can’t appreciate the cuteness anymore. So I appreciated away, gawking at all the adorable finds.


Even the restaurant was cute! Lunch break at Smile Junky resto-cafe. Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.


Just had lunch when we found this place. Huhu. They were serving fresh potato chips. Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo by Jay Tria.




Matcha and chocolate brownie in crepe form. Yum. Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo by Jay Tria.

Eyeball and shopping at Shibuya. So that day, my newfound friend (haha) Caryn and I decided to meet up in Shibuya Station, and she so kindly said yes to showing us around. She forgot to lead us to Hachiko though (boo), but she did very well in leading us to places where credit cards go to die. We went to Don Quixote (or Dongki) where Hazel was able to buy kigurimi for her and her boyfriend, to Tokyu Hands which was singularly the best stationery place in the universe, and then to Gengki Sushi, where we had fun ordering from tablets (who needs waiter people?) and waiting for our sushi to arrive via a conveyor belt that was shaped like a bullet train. Caryn had to leave us because of mommy duties though, so Hazel and I continued our adventure on our own, spending the rest of the day exploring more of Tokyu Hands (that place is a frigging blackhole!), looking at books in Books Kinokuniya (tiny, tiny books with gorgeous covers!), and hoarding stuff in Muji (sale! prices like you’ve never seen in Manila!).


Dear Caryn, I’m so glad you didn’t turn out to be a psycho serial killer. Don’t you feel the same way? Hihi. Sushi snack at Gengki Sushi. Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by Hazel Caasi.



Found this teasing us in Shibuya! Summer Sonic poster, Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by CP Santi.

In case you were wondering what a kigurumi is, here is Hazel, the cow and Chukoy, the Pokemon, for reference. Photo care of Hazel Caasi.

In case you were wondering what a kigurumi is, here is Hazel the cow, and Chukoy the Pokemon, for reference. Photo care of Hazel Caasi.

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