Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Japan 2013 - Day 11: Last Day in Tokyo... Sayonara, Japan

We still had the whole day to explore Tokyo for the last time as our flight back to Singapore was at 11:55pm. But since it was also check out day, we had to prepare our luggage after breakfast. The hotel has a left luggage facility which was very convenient for us.

By 10:30am we were on board the shuttle bus to Shinagawa Station, then took the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station (160 yen). It was a short walk going to the first gate to the Meiji Shrine.

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken. In commemoration of the virtues of Emperor (died in 1912) and his Empress (died in 1914), people donated 100,000 tress from all over Japan and from overseas, and worked voluntarily to create the forest that it is now. "The forest was carefully planned as an eternal forest that recreates itself." It was completed in 1920. Ninety-three years on, I wouldn't have guessed that these trees were intentionally planted in this area. 

Meiji Jingu
1-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 151-8557
Phone: +81-3-3379-5511 (Japanese)

at the main entrance, O-torii, the first torii gate to Meiji Shrine.
made of beautiful cypress wood more than 1,700 yrs old.

ready to explore the Meiji Shrine....
How small we were compared to the mighty torii gate.

lamp decorated as a house
it was a hot and sunny day. Good thing there were thousands of trees around.

a short stop for a photo with this lamp post

our second gate for the day
Otorii (The grand shrine gate)
the biggest wooden torii of the Myojin Style in Japan, rebuilt and dedicated in Dec 23,1975.
my little boy with the giant torii
This gate was modeled in form and size exactly as the original built in 1920
- wood used: Hinoki (Japanese cypress), 1500 years old from Mt Tandai-san, Taiwan
we were all thinking what this sign meant
first major attraction in this huge compound is the Gyoen (Meiji Jingu Gardens) - fees apply

display of barrels of sake which were donated every year by members of the 
Meiji Jingu Zenkoku Shozu Keishinkai (Nationawide Sake Brewers Association)

a collection of sake barrels accumulated through the years,
as a symbol of Japanese brewers' respect to the souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
"Emperor Meiji led the way in promoting the modernization by embracing many features of western culture in his personal life", by taking western food and wine. 
if the right side of the path to the Meiji Shrine was the display of sake barrels,
on the left side were a collection of barrels of wine
these barrels have been offered by the celebrated wineries of Bourgogne in France
for the spirit of world peace and amity, "with the earnest prayers that France and Japan
will enjoy more fruitful years of friendship".

another torii before our formal entry to the shrine

but before we could go in, we had to follow the rituals of paying respect at Meiji Jingu.
Here at the Temizuya (front) we had to rinse our left then right hand, poured water into our left hand and rinse our mouth. Finally, we had to rinse our left hand and rinse the dipper.
"These actions express respect and are independent of religious beliefs."
when we were done with paying respect, we walked into the final gate to the shrine

at the main entrance

this was a place wherein visitors from all over the world hung the planks of wood
where they have written their wishes and prayers (for a fee)
we opted for the other form of written wishes and prayers

we even found one which was probably from a teacher praying for his students
Ira dropping our envelop of wishes and prayers the designated prayer box.
A small donation (amount decided upon by visitors) may be included in the envelop.
after a glimpse of the Meiji Shrine and the religious practices and a ceremony which was currently being held then, we were ready to explore yet another aspect of Japan.
From historical / cultural  to modern / entertainment / shopping.
Takeshita Street was within walking distance from the Shrine, and although this place wasn't really in our itinerary, in search of a place to eat, we were brought by our feet, and our map, here. McDonalds it was :) Yeah, I know, not exactly a cultural experience but that was the first thing we could find that was agreeable to everyone. The stomach must be filled before the feet could wander around.
After a good American fastfood lunch, we were off to Kiddyland, six stories of wonderland for kids and kids at heart. Toys, stationeries, sweets, you name it, they have it.
the boys were discussing which floor to go to, and of course, we were headed to the floor which has cars, cars, cars
The place wasn't as big as I thought. It was a few stories high but the floor area wasn't too big at all. The Toys R Us at Times Square is way bigger. But the boys enjoyed their time here, trying the display toys and even brought home a couple of cars as souvenirs.

6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

bought train tickets to Shibuya Station
we met with Hachiko, the ever loyal dog who waited for his owner  for 10 years after his death.
The statue is just outside the Hachiko exit or the Shibuya JR statio. It is a famous meeting place for locals and visitors alike, so you could expect a huge crowd gathering at this place
Kelvin in the middle of the action at the famously busy Shibuya Crossing.
It was crazy as we saw people coming from almost all directions., and all traffic stood still.
one need not walk along pedestrian lane to cross
That was just it. We went there to see the crossing, we did, we crossed, not once but twice!
after that, we were on the ticket machines again to buy tickets for our train back to the hotel.
We still needed to finalize our packing, with the little things we bought along the way.
dinner before going to the airport, SUBWAY! 
Yeah, I know. It should have been Japanese food 
but this was the closest to our hotel  and the fastest to eat. 

Just like a blink of an eye, our Japan escapade was done. We took our last train ride in Tokyo on our way to Haneda Airport. We wanted to have ample time to walk around the airport and do some last-minute "pasalubong" (treats for friends back home) shopping. I almost brought home a new wallet, if only our gate wasn't calling out the final few passengers.

We will definitely go back to Japan. For the culture, the food, the sights, the people and the experience. For now, it's Sayonara Japan.

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