After touring around Japan, we returned to Tokyo for the rest of our vacation. While we were gone there was a snow storm in Tokyo causing a traffic mess, and they felt an earthquake located near by Fukushima. But when we returned, everything looked exactly the same as before our tour. We decided to visit a ward called Shibuya and see the sights over there.
Shibuya crossing is known from many different movies, and easily found since it is located right in front of the Shibuya Station. It is a scramble crossing where the traffic lights stop vehicles in order to let pedestrian walk across the walkways coming from many different directions. Thousands of tourist come to experience this cross road so it is always full of people.
YOYOGI PARK AND THE ROCKABILLY DANCERS
Yoyogi Park is one the most beautiful parks in Tokyo. It is easy to find if you just take a train to Harajuku Station and then follow the crowds to the park. The most famous sight in the park is Meiji Shrine. This park feels very peacefull since it is full of huge trees which were brought from different parts of Japan. During the spring it is also a popular place to experience cherry blossoms. Close to Meiji Shrine you will see colourful Sake barrels. Japanese Sake producers donate these barrels every year in honor of the emperor Meiji and the shrine.
Every Sunday the rockabilly dancers gather together at Yoyogi Park. They look like they are straight from the 1950's and they dance in the park for hours. It is fun to watch them, and they don't mind if you take some pictures or videos of them. You might also see some girls dressed in 1950's clothes cheering on the side. You can find the rockabilly dancers when you arrive from Harajuku Station if you just keep walking along the park fence. They are in a little square behind a corner.
Meiji Shrine is actually inside Yoyogi Park, but it deserves to be mentioned separately. This shrine is dedicated to emperor Meiji and it was first built in 1920. The shrine was destroyed in World War II and the current buildings are from 1958.
If you want to follow shinto tradition, you can wash your hands and your mouth at the purification trough located behind the torii gate. To get the water you will use the little wooden ladle provided. By the shrine you can either write your prayer on a wooden plate (Ema) and then leave them at the shrine, or get a paper Omikuji (a fortune telling paper) and tie it to a tree. This way your fortune should follow you. You can also make a prayer by throwing a coin in the offering box at the shrine. After that you ring the bell a couple times, take a step back, bow twice and clap twice when the coin falls into the box. Many big shrines have detailed guides on what to do there.
On Sundays it is common to see a shinto wedding ceremony at Meiji Shrine. We saw two wedding couples on our short visit.
Shibuya is known for it's big department stores and shopping opportunities. Right from exiting the Shibuya Station you will see all the neon lights of the stores. If you are not interested in shopping, at least you should visit Yoyogi Park in Shibuya.
We ate our lunch at Monster Cafe in Harajuku. It was such a unique experience! I wrote more about it on Crazy Cafés of Japan -post. I wouldn't recommend it because of it's food but if you want to see something totally different and strange, you should try it out. Our 4 year old especially was fascinated about this colourful cafe.