While in Tokyo, I walked through Yoyogi koen (Yoyogi Park) on my way to the Meiji Shrine. It is one of the largest parks in the city, an oasis of green space with a million paths for running and biking. I arrived at the dog walking hour, so I got a chance to practice my baby Japanese with the middle-aged lades walking their long-haired daschunds. (So far, I’ve seen more daschunds than any other type of dog. Maybe it’s too hot for the shiba inus to be out?)
me: “Kawaii, desune?” (Cute, aren’t they?)
them: “Mmm, arigatou goziamasu.” (Mmm, thanks.)
Meiji Jingu is dedicated to the emporer who opened Japan to the west. (If the shrine name sounds familiar, Hillary Clinton went there during her 2009 Sec of State visit as a way to honor the history and culture of Japan). It features 175 acres of evergreen forest plant species donated by people all over Japan. Huge wooden gates (torii) mark the entrance. I was there just as the apprentice Shinto priests were walking through the grounds. The space is clean and peaceful–it’s easy to forget you’re actually in the heart of the city. One cool thing is the wall of nihonshu–straw wrapped barrels of sake.
Today, I made my way from mountainous, quiet, country-life Fujino to, um, pretty much the opposite of that. Tokyo!
My destination was the Japanese Folk Craft Museum, to look at the textiles, pottery and other works on display. For such a plain entrance, the inside is pretty amazing.
Next up: Shibuya. I stopped at the statue of the loyal akita Hachiko, who kept returning to the station to meet his master long after his master had died. (I seem to remember a Richard Gere movie, but don’t quote me on that.)
Then up to look over Shibuya Crossing, where 100,000 people move through every hour. I was there on a Tuesday afternoon, so I suspect this is a picture of a slow time.
I made my way to 8 stories of crafting goodness. Don’t worry everyone, I didn’t buy everything I wanted (such as washi tape in every color!). Check out the washi tape stairs in Tokyu Hands.
Finally, to East Shinjuku, for neon lights and active streets. If you’d ever like to confuse your brain, may I suggest moving from a quiet mountain house through one of the busiest train stations in the world and end the day in an area known for its nightlife? Sorry, mind. I’ll get back to meditative work in a day or so. But let’s enjoy the energy of the city for one more day!