Japan and Korea 2017 (Day 5) Part 2: Ikegami, and Harajuku (the Meiji Shrine and Takashita Street)

IMG_1497I’m very very sorry about how late this post is! My life sort of exploded, and I really had to prioritize books, and book reviews for a while! Part 1 of this post went up on July 27th, and that is kind of ridiculous. Considering that I had to split Day 5 up into 2 parts, I am extremely sorry that I had to make all of you wait so long for Part 2! That being said, I think that this is one of the more exciting posts about my travels through Japan and Korea in May of this year. I mean, Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine are both pretty famous places! But I’ll let you be the judge.

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As you read in Part 1 of Day 5, my parents and I first visited Akihabara (the district that is all about technology, anime, and maid cafes), as well as Shin Okubo (which is the Korea Town of Tokyo)! After we finished the delicious Korean food we ordered at a neat little place in Shin Okubo, wen headed back to the train station, and made our way to Ikegami. Most people who have read up on Tokyo, and even those who have visited it, have likely never heard of Ikegami. It’s a district that isn’t too famous, but is special to me because I spent a month there with my friend, the first time that I visited Japan. Therefore, I have a very emotional attachment to that place, and it was an incredible feeling to be able to take my parents there, and show them the traditional Japanese house in which we stayed, as well as the Ikegami temple nearby.

I also really recommend visiting Ikegami if you want to get a feel for the quieter side of Tokyo! It is a bit further from what you would call downtown (if there is such a thing in Tokyo), and is therefore much calmer, cleaner, and the population is also older. Walking from the train station toward the traditional house which my friends had been renting (no longer using Google Maps because I knew the way by heart), we barely saw any people. I wanted my parents to get a taste of the quieter side of Tokyo as well, and this was therefore hitting two birds with one stone (as much as I dislike that saying…poor birds). The weather (as you can see) as also a little grey that day, which was fine, because it made the day less hot than other days, and made it easier to do a lot of walking.

We found the house I’d stayed in (a place which they’d only seen through Skype calls), and which we were sad to see had been turned into a massage parlour for the elderly? (This was very unexpected, since I’d just expected that a family, or students may have rented it after my friends moved out.) And then we made our way to the nearby Ikegami temple! I like this temple a lot, and recommend it to those who would like to visit a temple in Tokyo which is not crazy busy with other tourists! It was nearing the end of the day (well, sunset), so we were almost the only people there. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but temples are open from sunrise to sunset in Japan, and while we were there in May, the sun would set at 6 PM! Being used to the sun setting around 8 or 9 PM around that time of year in Canada, this was very eerie for us, but also quite an experience. We were able to see some of Tokyo at night, despite being out and about since the early morning!

But back to the temple, as you can see it was very empty, quiet, and soothing. I was happy to be able to show my parents this temple without having to yell over hundreds of people talking at the same time. My dad bought a charm from there too, which he shows me every now and again and asks if I remember where I got it from. We could have stayed there for hours! But as I mentioned, we were on a schedule due to our limited time in Japan, and we had to make it to the Meiji shrine before the sun set for good, and they would close the premises!

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We hopped back on the train, and got off at Harajuku station (since, for those of you who didn’t know, the Meiji shrine is located in Harajuku). Deciding that we would check out the famous street in Harajuku that almost everyone has seen in a music video, or some other blog posts (Takashita street) later, we went in the other direction toward the shrine. And I’m so happy that my parents wanted to visit this place, because it is one of my favourite spots in Tokyo (if you couldn’t tell, haha)! The first image is from 2014, and the second one is from this year.

It really is a beautiful place to visit, and even soothing despite all of the the other tourists milling about. We did get annoyed at some European lady sitting on the ground in the middle of the shrine area though, surrounded by shopping bags. It was strange, and a little rude. But many tourists can be inconsiderate of other cultures, and other countries in the world, so it was not surprising. It’s easy to get annoyed at people like that, but you can’t let that ruin your vacation. Life is short!

You can see why this is one of my favourite places! It’s just so beautiful! And even though the shrine is in the middle of the city, it is surrounded by trees that are hundreds of years old and that filter out the big city sounds, so it seems as if you’re completely outside of Tokyo!

The Meiji shrine is kind of magical, especially around sunset, and we would have loved to stay there longer as well, but again, they close at sunset and we had other places to see! So we left the shrine with heavy hearts and headed toward Takashita street!

The last time I was in Tokyo, I saw Takashita street and other parts of Harajuku mostly in the daytime, so it was interesting and neat to see everything in the night time! Last time my friends and I went for some very tasty okonomiyaki (a type of delicious pancake) for dinner, and were too full to get the famous Harajuku crepes…but I got one this time, and it was delicious! This place is very interesting regarding colour, culture, shopping, and food, and the next time that I visit Japan, I will definitely be visiting it again!

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5 thoughts on “Japan and Korea 2017 (Day 5) Part 2: Ikegami, and Harajuku (the Meiji Shrine and Takashita Street)

  1. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Your comment about the sun setting early stood out to me. That was one of the things that bugged me the most when I was in Japan. It would be dark shortly after I got off work. There were no streetlights where I lived so there wasn’t any point in going outside in the evening!

    Meiji Shrine is really impressive!! I should spend more time there and less time shopping, next time I make it to Tokyo πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flavia says:

      Ahhhh yeah I probably wouldn’t go out a lot either! It is one of the safest places I’ve ever been, but I’d still feel iffy about going out as a woman, by myself too!

      And yes I love the Meiji Shrine! Shopping in Tokyo is great too though ;P


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