September 13, 2010

Japan : Sightseeing around Tokyo

I'm planning a trip to Japan again next year (no work related this time!) with my bestfriends, so I went to Tokyo Tourist Information Center in Shinjuku to get all the information that we needed. I already had a bag full of brochures at home collected from previous trips, but I just wanna get my hands on the latest information (ok by next year this information might be invalid too.. haha).

This information center is located at Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. While you're there, don't forget to go up to the observation deck.

There are 2 observatories at the building, the North Tower and the South Tower. Best of all, both of them are free of charge!

This building used to be the tallest building in Tokyo and Japan. Thus, it offers fantastic view of the city. Day and night. Another alternative to Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills. Jimat duit! Hehehe... 

On a clear day, they say you can even get a glimpse of Mount Fuji! But I've been there a few times already, and never get to see it. :(

If you're wondering what's that building around the city, the electronic guide can be rented for free.

The device will automatically sense the area you're standing, and the list of nearby buildings will appear. It will then give a brief description of your chosen building. Cool!

Seeing a greenery in the midst of the crowded city amazed me.

The greenery is actually the Yoyogi Park, one of the largest park in Tokyo. I had no particular plan after that, and tired of exploring the concrete jungle, I reckoned spending time in a park sounded like a great idea.

So, I walked back to Shinjuku JR station and took the Yamanote line to Harajuku. The park is only a few minutes walk from the station. And coincidentally, there was another summer festival in the area, the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi. This is a modern rendition of the Awa Odori, the traditional summer dance.

But my camera suddenly decided to throw a tantrum and didn't wanna cooperate with me. It seemed like there was something wrong with the slider or something my camera kept on shaking, and produced blur images. I felt like screaming right there and then. Damn you camera! In a time like this you decided to die on me? So... no pictures from the festival. T_T

I watched the dance for a while before walking around the park. Yoyogi Park is adjacent to the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo, the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

It was when I approached the shrine that I realized something. Hey I could use my handphone to snap photos why didn't I use it just now! OMG! How could I be so stupid! I totally forgot that I had a camera phone with me. *slapped forehead*

There's something so touching about this shrine. This shrine is built in commemoration of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. They were the grandparents of the current Emperor and the ones who led Japan to emerge as one of the great powers on the world stage.

The original building was burnt down during the World War 2. The reconstruction of the present shrine building was supported by the sincere heart of the citizens. The current shrine's area is covered by an evergreen forest with more than 100000 trees, donated by people from all over Japan when the shrine was established. Just an example how the people love their great ruler.

I just wandered around the shrine's compound, admiring the buildings and watching people pay respect. Throw some coins into the Offering Box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, make a wish and bow once again.

On my way back to the JR station, I passed by the Super Yosakoi event again, but it was almost finished by then so I didn't get to snap any pictures.

Broken hearted, I vented my frustration by going on a retail therapy in the nearby GAP flagship store. The sales were mad. Tell me, where can you get a GAP shirt for 900 yen and a short for 1900 yen??? They were definitely my best steal!

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