Tokyo in Half a Day

So yesterday we did what I really thought was impossible – see all (well, most) of the sights in Tokyo for half a day. Disclaimer: I do not recommend doing this at all, especially in the scorching summer heat. For me to visit a site is to experience it, which would entail spending some time to drink everything in; if I would stay in one place for a mere five minutes to take frenzied snapshots then I would just go look at pictures in the internet. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I was supposed to take Arlene around Tokyo for two days. But thank goodness for her Japanese friend (an about-to-be-Jesuit priest who shall remain nameless) because we would never have been able to visit all the places she wanted to visit on our own. I don’t think I have to tell you I have no sense of direction; plus I don’t really frequent tourist spots. In fact we wasted the entire morning looking for Yoyogi park only to find that it’s nearer Harajuku station than Yoyogi station. Hmpf. Anyway, we met with her aforementioned friend around lunchtime, and here begins the tour of Tokyo as frenetic as the city itself.

First stop: Shibuya
I met up with Arlene here on Friday night, so it wasn’t really new. But this time she was able to take a picture of Hachiko (it was pouring on Friday).

Next stop: Yoyogi Park

From Shibuya we walked, yes walked to Yoyogi Park. This was around noon time, so you can imagine the heat. The park was, well, clean. According to guidebooks artists often perform here (as is the case in most other places), but who would want to play under the glaring heat of the sun? All we saw were people sunbathing or taking a nap under the trees. I’m guessing the artists would come here later when the temperature is a bit more bearable.

Next Stop: Meiji Shrine

So after Yoyogi Park we walked, yes walked, to Meiji Shrine. And what can I say; a shrine is a shrine is a shrine. We chanced upon a wedding procession, and here weddings are very similar to funerals – everyone is solemn and sad and wearing black.

Me: Why are traditional weddings here so sad?
Guide: Why wouldn’t they be sad? It’s the end of their single happy life!

Good point.

Next stop: Harajuku
So we walked again to Harajuku station, and this is where we had lunch. Now Harajuku is Tokyo’s fashion district, and it was almost sacrilegious that we did not do even the teensiest bit of shopping. Which is why I returned the following day, but I’ll reserve that for another blog post.

This is the only photo I managed to take (all photos are from my iPhone because I forgot my cam). It’s Takeshita Dori, which is a street chockfull of fashion boutiques and what-have-you.

Next stop: Tokyo Dome

 This time we used the train, thank God. We weren’t able to go in because there was a baseball game. There was, however, a multitude of cosplayers with really really amazing costumes. Winner for me is this one here.

When he started moving towards me I kinda got scared; the way you probably feel when a robot charges towards you.

Next Stop: Akihabara
Everyone knows I hate going to Akihabara because, well, I don’t have a Y-chromosome. But Arlene is a crazy crazy person and we ended up in a Maid Cafe. It was scary and awkward and strange and I didn’t get it at all. And to top it off, even with the expensive entrance fee (one thousand yen just for an hour!!!), we can’t even take pictures of the “maids” (that’s an extra 500 yen). Anyway I’d understand how it’d appeal to an otaku; when we got our drinks the maid did this whole chant ritual whatever it was to make the drinks taste better. Right.

Arlene ordered a latte and the girl drew a cat and a heart using chocolate syrup.

Next stop: Tokyo Station and Imperial Castle
Tokyo station is pretty but it’s under construction.

We went to this building called Marubiru which has some sort of viewing deck in the 35th floor.

And here’s a picture of our unofficial tour guide.

 The Imperial Castle is only open to the public on New Year and the emperor’s birthday, but you can always check out the grounds. It’s quite interesting; like a last bastion of traditional Japan right smack in the middle of a busy busy city littered with skyscrapers.

 And it’s quite relaxing to see just open space in the middle of Tokyo. Oh, and we chanced upon swans.

Next stop: Shinjuku
What can I say, it’s where the love is.

We also went up TMG which also has an observation deck. From there we were able to catch a glimpse of the fireworks from the Sumida Fireworks Festival (which attracts around 1 million viewers).
We had dinner here, and afterwards we went to Kabukicho because Arlene wants to see a “hosto”. No pictures because I was so scared.

And that’s that. Now my feet are sore, my shoulders ache, and I have a T-shirt tan line. Anj, please tell me we’re not doing this when you get here.

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