Do you want to take a trip to two of the most popular places in Tokyo? They have different names and they are very distinctive of each other. Yet, you can visit both by getting out of a single station. Stuck between the Omotesando Station, Harajuku Station, and Meiji-Jingumae Station, Harajuku and Omotesando are a must for tourists. In fact, you might find it more adventurous if you walk to Takeshita Dori from Shibuya.
Takeshita Dori (dori
is the Japanese word for street) is the center of Harajuku district. It is a major shopping alley. I have lived in Tokyo for almost six years now. I have been to this street way too many times. Yet, it never fails to entertain me. Yes, it is nothing but shops, restaurants, and cafes lined up against one another. The trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets are nothing different from what you can see at Shibuya. However, once you are there, you will notice a completely different feeling to this street that is unlike anything you can experience in Shibuya.
No matter what time of the year you are visiting, you will always notice cosplays here. Teenagers dress up to shop here with their friends and families. A lot of crepe shops, ice creams parlors, traditional Japanese snack shops, clothing stores, and jewelry and accessory shops stacked up on this street. There is a shop that sells cotton candies the size of a giant hat. There is a fashion store just for pets. Among other popular stores, Daiso, Kiddy Land, and a Disney store are prominent. All together, the 400 meters street is intended towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.
Even if you are there for people watching, it will be a completely different experience than let’s say sitting at the Starbucks at Shibuya crossing. The push and shove will surprisingly make you as eager and excited as the hundreds of natives gathered there. I guarantee that it does not happen anywhere else.The great thing about this street is that it is so close to Yoyogi Park and the shrine known as Meiji Jingu. Together they make up a large area excellent for a variety of reasons. Yoyogi Park is a great picnic spot during spring. Although it has relatively small number of sakura trees, it is still a nice walk during spring. During Autumn, a significant part of the park turn golden as the leaves on ginko trees start to fall. It is also a popular place for all sorts of street performances. From horn players to hip-hop dancers to rockabilly gangs, these artists usually gather by the park's east entrance during weekends.
Next to the park is the Shinto shrine known as the Meiji Jingu. It is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It is also an extremely popular destination for all kinds of traditional ceremonies. For example, it attracts almost 3 million people for Hatsumode
– the first shrine visit of the year. Its treasure house and museum all together make it great destination for anyone who wants to dive into the traditional culture of Japan. Finally, the forest surrounding the shrine has almost 100,000 different trees brought from all over japan and overseas. Peaceful, spiritual, and relaxing are the three words to describe the whole area.
A 10-minute walk from the Harajuku Station area will lead you to our second destination – Omotesando. It is just like Takeshita Dori in the sense that it another major shopping destination. Yet, it is packed with a very different experience and crowd. But more of that in the second part of this article.by Khalid Saifullah