After relaxing the whole day yesterday I went out to meet the friend who picked me up from the airport again. Me and my host set off to Harajuku’s Meiji Jingu to pick her up there.
Meiji Jingu is yet another shrine and one of those islands of tranquility in the loud city of Tokyo. In front of the train station there were so many people that it was hard to walk straight, because you always had someone blocking your way. Interestingly enough no one runs into each other. It seems as if everybody has sensors which keep them from hitting other people while walking. So we met the friend there, turned around a corner and suddenly everything became green, quite and looked like the country side. Of course there were a lot of tourists, but because the noise was suddenly turned down by the second you crossed the threshold of the gate to the shrine area, it felt like a completely different world. This shrine had the same feling as the Yasukuni shrine, very imperial and solid. You could really fel that both places were built by the same person and that that person was trying to convey a message with it which was the greatness of the japanese nation. We used the time for a little prayer (which I used to get rid off all my 1 yen coins) set off to wander around Harajuku, but we didn’t came far. My guides wanted to show me some famous street but that particular street was so crowded we refrained from setting a foot on it and instead chose to wander freely around somehere else. We ended up in Aoyama, which looked a bit more expensive and high class and had dinner in a western style restaurant. Although the place looked really expensive from the outside, the food itself was rather cheap. I only payed around 10 euros for a good meal.
After this we headed for Shibuya again to meet some other people there who were supposed to accompany us to an izakaya. On our way my guides stopped at several shops for some “window shopping” while I was just tagging along. We also came across a television studio where they were shooting some variety show, maybe a comedy program. You were able to take a small peak from the outside, but you didn’t hear what they were saying.
At 6 pm we reached the infamous Hachiko-mae crossing and were somehow able to meet up with everybody safely. A friend of mine had especially come from Saitama for the evening of which I was very grateful. We all went to a store called “wa zatami” which is some sort of chain for izakaya restaurants. There I got yet another experience of the izakaya culture. While the one I went to earlier was a local place this one was packed with customers. The hallways are very small and everything is really narrow, but somehow when you take a seat everything starts to open up again. There’s bells at each table with which yu can call the waiter in case you want to order something. It’s not really a western style restaurant but instead you order a lot of different food which everybody shares at the end of the evening and that aso includes the drinks. We had a lot of fun sitting there and talking about all sorts of things and after around 3 hours we departed from the restaurant and headed home. By the time we reached the house we were really tired, but there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me. My host’s sister and her husband bought a small present for me and wrote me a letter saying they invite me over to their place at Mt. Fuji the next time I’llbe in Japan.
So now I’m all set for my trip around the south and I plan to make Kyoto my first stop. I really hope I won’t get lost there, but I’ve been told that it’s a lot smaller than Tokyo, so I should be okay.