Japan – Day 2 (Part 1)

Day 2 was our first full day in Japan and I awoke after the best night’s sleep I have had during the entire trip.  Seriously, the futon was really comfortable!

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We made our way back to the Shibuya scramble crossing in the dry daylight via the overpass walkways.  It’s a nice way to cross some really busy intersections and the bus terminal!

The scramble crossing isn’t quite as bright in the daytime but it is still quite vibrant with so many people and activities going on.

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We found the statue of Hachiko, too.  As a dog lover, I had to take a photo.

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Right after I took this, a film crew came up to us.  They filmed us as they asked if we had tried Japanese massage chairs (we thought they said “muscle chairs” at first – that would have been interesting!).  We had seen several places around Shibuya and in the airport where one could sit down and get a massage (legitimate – keep it clean, people) but we hadn’t tried any ourselves and that was the end of that interview.  God help the Japanese people if any of that footage is actually aired.

We decided that since it was such a nice day we would head for Harajuku via Yoyogi Park on foot to get a lay of the land and see what there is to see. Here is a shot of the street we took from the scramble crossing.

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So, yeah, there’s a Hooters here, too, but that wasn’t why I took the photo.  I hadn’t noticed it but fortunately I was with companions who were more observant and were happy to draw my attention to that particular establishment. 😉

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We wound our way through side streets until we came to the entrance of Yoyogi Park and the NHK building.  Apparently, one can apply for a tour of the NHK facilities to see how television shows are made.

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We happened to time this vacation such that we are in Japan for the fall colors (very lucky!).  We did something similar last year when we all went to Yosemite together – we booked months in advance but we happened to time it for the fall colors.  We’ll see if we can keep this up next year.

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If I had to describe Yoyogi Park in one word it would be difficult but I would probably use “immaculate.”  It is clear that each tree and shrub is cared for and the park itself is very clean.

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It was easy to meander through the trees and paths as we leisurely strolled through the park.  It’s a place I will be visiting again for sure.

We eventually emerged from the park at Harajuku, a young and cutting edge / quirky fashion district.

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Yes, the gentleman in in the center of the photo has some sort of ties attached to both legs of his pants.  Remember how I said, “When in doubt, call it art”?  Well, today I’m modifying that slightly to, “When in doubt, call if fashion.”  Clearly I’m just getting old *sigh*.

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This is the gateway to a lane of fashionable shops.

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All kinds of clothing and accessories are available here from Lolita to goth to punk to cosplay and everything in between.

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We didn’t see too many people dressed up as it was a weekday morning but we plan to go back during the weekend to see the parade of fashionistas. 🙂

We decided to stop for lunch (ramen!) and once again we got to use a vending machine to make our choices!

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I had no idea what I chose – I just hit the big red button and that was that.  It turns out, that got me a rice bowl as well as Ramen.

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Please pardon the chopsticks left so casually in the rice.  The food was good and fortifying.  I know this is basic food here in Japan and nothing particularly special but it was still leaps and bounds ahead of any ramen I’ve had in San Francisco.  Since SF has such great food in general, that’s really saying something!

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Here’s a picture of the bar where the patrons sit and are served their food.  Everyone in the shop, including the chefs, shouts out when a customer enters.  I have no idea what they’re saying but it’s fun. 🙂

Fortified to continue our adventures, we decided to head for the Meiji Shrine.  We deliberately took a detour off the main road and through various neighborhoods to see what they were like.

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I’ve heard all about how clean Japan is so I knew to expect it but it’s still surprising to me to see even side streets and alleys with no trash lying about – everything is so neat and tidy.

More on the Meiji Shrine in part 2 of the Day 2 Japan post coming up.

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