Day Four: Shibuya, Takeshita Dori, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, Yakitori Alley

Day Four: Shibuya, Takeshita Dori, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, Yakitori Alley

Day Four in Japan promised to be both exciting and challenging for us because we decided to venture out on our own (prior to this, we were relying heavily on our friends to guide us around). Being as directionally-challenged as we are, I knew that we might have bitten off more than we could chew.

That being said, we did start off the day on a good note by finding this little bakery near our hotel called St. Marc Café – a popular chain bakery in Japan. You’ll probably be more familiar with the name of their signature chocolate croissant known as a “chococro”. Their light and flaky pastries are actually quite good and served the perfect launching point for our adventure.

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Our first goal of the day was to find the Disney Store in Shibuya to get some Starlight passes to Disneysea. Finding Shibuya Station was the easy part… this is one of the busiest train stations in the world and we had previously passed through the area on our first night in Japan. Located right outside the station is a small statue of Hachikō, the faithful Akita who inspired the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

Getting to the Disney Store meant passing through Shibuya Crossing and their famous scramble crosswalk. Fortunately, during the morning, the crossing isn’t as busy as it is at nighttime.

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But if you’re looking to experience the atmosphere of Shibuya Crossing, make sure to check it out at night with all the lights and throngs of people.

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We successfully managed to locate the cute Disney Store and get our tickets (which we’ll talk about on Day 6) and then decided to stop off for an early lunch before doing some shopping in the 34-storey Hikarie department store.

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Before we talk about the department store, let me just gush over the food that we had when we stopped by the Curry House Coco Ichibanya in Shibuya. They had one of the best Japanese curry that I’ve had and is a popular chain in Tokyo. This is one of the dishes that I still dream about when I think about our trip to Japan.

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Okay, back to the Hikarie department store… like many of the department stores in Japan, the basement floors house a collection of food and grocery stalls. We noticed that the fruit on display here was quite expensive (although it was also very large and blemish-free). I think you can find cheaper, less-perfect fruit in some places (usually hidden in the back).

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They had a lot of confections, rice crackers, candies, etc… here.

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There was also a whole floor of various prepared foods that you could easily pick up a quick and easy meal. If I wasn’t so full from our curry lunch, I definitely would have wanted to try more food here (they even had a Blue Star Donuts!)

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Next up was a jaunt to Takeshita Dori in nearby Harajuku. The 20-30 min walk turned out to feel much longer because the sun was blazing (despite being mid-November). This crowded and busy street is home to a lot of souvenir shops and countless crepe stalls.

While the rest of Tokyo seemed quite safe and crime-free, Takeshita seemed to be one of those areas where you should pay more attention to your surroundings. There were a number of non-Japanese “working” the area and trying to get tourists to buy their knock-off products. They seemed to work in pairs and some were quite aggressive.

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This being Harajuku, they had shops here where you could buy your favourite costume to dress up in.

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20161118_140249 We didn’t really find much at Takeshita Dori so we walked to the nearby Omotesandō area which is known for their large zelkova trees that line the street. During fall, the leaves turn to a beautiful golden colour but it’s difficult to get a good picture of the fall leaves from ground-level as the trees are so tall.

Omotesandō is also known for the large number of flagship fashion stores but we’re not really into that. Instead, we headed to another popular store… Kiddy Land.

If you have kids or just like to collect toys, this is definitely a place you have to check out.

They actually have a whole section devoted to Snoppy and Peanuts called Snoopy Town. For those of you that don’t know, we actually have quite an extensive collection of Snoopy items that we’ve accumulated over the years.

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They’ve got (almost) as much Snoopy-themed items as we have at home, lol!

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By the time we finished shopping, it was about 3pm so we walked back towards the park to take a look at the Meiji Shrine. The Shinto shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of former Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, is actually located deep within a forested park.

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The large torii gate at the entrance is quite impressive and begins your roughly ten minute walk to the shrine along a wide pathway. Although the pathway is wide, however, it’s a bit uneven in the large middle section so most people walk along the paved borders of the pathway.

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Along the way to the shrine, we came across the large display of decorative sake barrels that were donated from various sake brewers across Japan.

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As I mentioned during Day Two, the Kiku (Chrysanthemum) Festival was well into bloom and there was a large display of different chrysanthemums along the path to the shrine.

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The inner golden-hued torii gate is smaller but still impressive.

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The densely canopied pathway makes for a peaceful sojourn. We actually wound up exiting the park just as the security guards were closing up the gate entrance.

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Apparently, hair pins are a thing in Japan. After Googling around, we found this shop called Wargo near the Shinjuku-sanchōme Station.

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In addition to these colourful glass pins, they had some special Sailor Moon hair pins (we wound up getting the Sailor Mercury one I think).

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For dinner, we decided on trying something uniquely Japanese and headed back to the Yakitori Alley that we passed through on our first night in Tokyo.

This particular yakitori alley, Omoide Yokocho, is located just west of the Shinjuku Station and is known as Yakitori Alley Memory Lane or, more colourfully, as Piss Alley… I’ll let you guess why.

The alleyway is quite narrow and, at night, the atmosphere makes you forget that you’re only steps away from the shiny new high-rises and bustling train station. Walking past all of the busy yakitori restaurants will make you hungry as the aroma of grilled meats wafts through the air.

Although there’s quite a few restaurants in this crowded alleyway, it can be difficult to find a place to eat because the restaurants (if you can call them that) are so tiny. We literally had to squeeze into the restaurant that we wound up choosing, Fukuhachi Yakitori.

The menu is quite simple but the food is super tasty… nothing better than freshly grilled meats to please the tummy.

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We wound up getting lost quite frequently during this day but everything worked out in the end and we wound up with some seriously good eats.


Back to Main Page

Day One: Shinjuku at Night

Day Two: Tokyo Dome, Imperial Palace, and Asakusa

Day Three: Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza, Winter Illuminations at Shidome

Day Five: Snoopy Museum, Odaiba

Day Six: Akihabara, Ueno, Disney Sea

Day Seven: Yokohama, Shinjuku

Day Eight: Skytree

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