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.
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:
- Rinse your left hand, rinse your right hand,
- Pour water into your left hand and rinse your mouth,
- 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.
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.
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.
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!).