Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya... and more food!
So I had planned on this blog being a "post once a week" type of thing, but there is just too much to share. Each and every moment in this beautiful country has me in awe. From the people, to the technology, to the religion, culture, and nature, I am just speechless. I feel like I'm in another world that is so far from home and I'm loving every moment of it. There was that moment of being uncomfortable when I first got here because I was unfamiliar, but once I got past that, figured out where I was, I am starting to feel so at home. The culture here is just so contagious and I am trying to just soak it all in.
On Saturday, I decided to go to Harajuku, which is known for its shopping! To get there, I had to take the train, and let me tell y'all, I was nervous. But it was so easy to figure out. I swear, if you can navigate the NYC subway system, you can get anywhere in the world! I mean the train here is in a different language and I still can get it! and NYC is in English and I still.... okay sorry for my rant. Back to my life changing experiences!
Upon arriving in Harajuku, I walked down the famous Takeshita Street, which reminds me kind of Canal Street, but much nicer in my opinion. There was so much stuff there! Accessories, clothes, shoes, trinkets... The clothing here is AMAZING. It is so my style that it’s scary. Everything is tailored and sleek but with a little flare, so that will definitely be my guilty pleasure while I'm on this trip. Once I walked through Takeshita street, I ended up in the main part of Harajuku that has all of their high end shops like Fendi, Prada, Chanel, etc... There were also some other shops that you know I went in. That area is just booming with energy and so many people. Everyone is so fashion forward here and so individual. I absolutely love it.
One of the best parts of going to Harajuku was going to my first Ramen House called Ichiran!!! And let me tell y'all, it was one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. I will never ever ever eat the dried, processed Top Ramen ever again because my taste buds are forever changed for the better. Unfortunately, I am THAT AMERICAN who doesn't understand the language and needs help translating the menu, but everyone is just so sweet and so patient (It makes me want to be that way when foreigners come up to me in NY). You order your food at this machine and pay to receive your ticket. You are then escorted into this small but long room with your own little cubicle, and they bring your ramen right to you! I ATE EVERY SINGLE DROP. It was the perfect closing to a day.
On Sunday, I decided to actually go back to the Harajuku subway stop, but instead of going to the shops, I turned the opposite direction and went towards the direction of the Meiji Shrine. Tokyo is so diverse. On one end of the town you are greeted with high end shops, and then on the other end, you are completely transported back in time and welcomed by years and years of ancient Japanese history and culture. The walk to the Meiji Shrine LEFT ME SPEECHLESS. You have to understand that yes these shrines are absolutely beautiful, but for me, it was all that lead up to the shrine that left me in awe. These emperors were treated with nothing but the best and you can tell by the intricate detail and layout of the pathway up to the shrine.
You initially walk through this massive arch and the magic begins. The trees, which are some of the tallest trees I've seen, make this beautiful arch and make you feel as if you're in this fantasy cocoon. I was walking at the paste of a turtle just mesmerized by God's earth. I mean, WOW. The pictures don't even do it justice.
Then I turned off the path because I was curious and stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places I'd ever been, the Meiji Jingu Inner Garden. I walked through the path, and just sat. I sat and just stared because I couldn't believe that I was looking at something so naturally beautiful. Not man made, but God made. It was like you couldn't tell where earth stopped and heaven began. It was quiet and so peaceful. The pond with the lily pads and trees looked like a painting. I sat there for about an hour. Then, I ended up finding the Kiyomasa- Ido well which flows pure water year round. It was a gift many years ago, and it’s still there. You are allowed to go up to the well and wash your hands with the water. I had chills. There are moments when you just feel so connected to history, and that was one of those moments. The idea of cleanliness is so evident in Japanese culture. The water at the well was meant to cleanse you, and before you officially enter the Meiji Shrine, there is a section where you are supposed to wash your mouth and hands before you pray. I am in love with the duality within Japanese culture. They are so forward thinking in technology, architecture, fashion, but they still are so rooted in their traditional beliefs and culture. It’s beautiful to witness.
SIDE NOTE: The gaucho denim pants and hat I'm wearing are from Harajuku and they just may be some my favorite purchases ever!
And if this day couldn’t get any better, it did! I decided to stroll through Yoyogi Park, and I met a wonderful girl named Skyler, and she happens to be from New York City on the Upper East Side! She moved to Japan for school and loved it so much that she never left. She speaks the language and works in IT. She also happens to have gone to highschool around the school from Fordham University ( my alma mater) and currently lives about 10 minutes away from my hotel in Shinjuku! What are the odds? I can’t wait to meet up with her and have her show me around. I also met this other lovely girl named Sabrina who is from Tunisia. She is 22 and traveling by herself and asked if she could tag along with me on my my next adventure to another area of Tokyo, Shibuya. (Shibuya and Harajuku are only one stop away from each other on the train) I love spontaneous moments like this! Two 22 year olds, from different walks of life, both in the same city, at the same time, and in the same park, sharing stories. I love it!
We then went to Shibuya, and braved the famous Shibuya Crossing which is the busiest intersection in the world! And let me say, that is so true. Cars are flying from all four directions, and then all of a sudden the pedestrian lights turn green, and it feels like a thousand people are crossing the street in a span of 30 seconds. It was crazy but so organized! It was soo cool.
I finished the day with another delicious bowl of Ramen… I couldn’t help myself! I got back on the train and headed back to my studio apartment, which is oddly really starting to feel like a new home, to find the most beautiful sunset from my window. Almost as if God decided to put a cherry on top of the beautiful day he had already blessed me with. I stared out of the window (with a glass of wine obviously) just with thanks. Thankful for a safe day and beautiful day filled with history, nature, and beautiful interactions.
This was a jam packed weekend and I have no intentions of stopping. My time here is going to fly by and there is so much to see and do. Tokyo is breathtaking and it’s only day 3. Tomorrow, I start my first day of teaching and I know that I will be even more transformed when I get in the studio with my students.
But until then,
Bahama Ballerina, Out