Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tokyo: Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, Hachiko, Ichiran

On our first full day in Japan, we prepared for a long day filled with adventures! The itinerary? Visit the Meiji Shrine, hunt down sakuras at Yoyogi Park, shop at Don Quijote, eat like a local at Pablo Cafe, try out legit takoyaki at Gindaco, and have ramen at Japan's #1 ramen joint, Ichiran!



First order of business -  take photos at the train station! Since our AirBnb is located at Sasazuka, we always had to switch trains to get to Shinjuku or Shibuya and take connecting trains from there.
Tokyo, Japan
I like riding the trains and just people-watch. The Japanese are so disciplined compared to us Filipinos.
Tokyo, Japan
They are always rushing, sure, but they rush in an orderly fashion. I've never had a rude encounter with the Japanese - they are always willing to give way and are very patient too!
Tokyo, Japan
Our adventure led us to Harajuku station on the JR Yamanote Line, near where the Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park is located.
Tokyo, Japan
I think it's pretty cool how on one side of the street there are tall buildings and on the other, a huge park with so much greenery!
Tokyo, Japan
We can't see places like this in Manila, that's for sure!
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The park's IG wall! Haha!
Tokyo, Japan
I was pretty lucky to have been able to take a people-free photo of this.
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'Cause after a few seconds.... this happened!
Tokyo, Japan
We then headed to the torii gate.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, "All shrines have a torii gate, even if they do not have a main sanctuary housing the spirit of a deity. A torii gate is the boundary line between holy ground and the secular world. Passing through the torii gate signifies that you have stepped into the domain of the deity. Though awareness of torii etiquette has dwindled recently, bowing once in front of the torii gate is the correct procedure. Also, the center of the pathway entering into the shrine is set aside as the area where the deity passes. Avoiding this center space and walking to the side area of the pathway is one key to a polite visit." 
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The "temizuya" water pavilion consisting of a water basin and ladles is not a place to drink water. It is there to perform "misogi," a ritual to purify the body and mind with water before proceeding to stand in front of the deity. Originally this ritual was performed in the nude at special misogi locations like the ocean or a river, but today the ritual has been simplified to rinsing your hands and mouth at the temizuya. Wash yourself with the idea of washing away impurities in your heart as well as from your physical self.
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I honestly didn't know these things then. But I'm glad I researched it now, so at least I'll know better next time!
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You can also make a wish and tie them onto the prayer wall, or purchase these small prayer plaques to hang near the shrines.
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We then headed to Yoyogi Park to find ourselves some cherry blossoms!
Tokyo, Japan
It was almost impossible since we arrived a few weeks early of sakura season, but we crossed our fingers and kept walking deeper into the park until we eventually stumbled upon two sakura trees!
Tokyo, Japan
Such pretty trees! Tim and I had to get our souvenir shots! Haha!
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Here is how the cherry blossom looks from a distance:
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Up close, it has a light pink hue and kind of looks like a gumamela!
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I thought it was really lucky that we found the trees just when we were about to give up!
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They were the only reason we went to Yoyogi Park, so I'm so glad we didn't go home disappointed.
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In fact, we decided to celebrate this small win by getting ourselves some real Japanese food..
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
... in the form of takoyaki!
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Tim lined up to get us our takoyaki at The Gindaco, while everyone else sat on the side to watch the staff in action!
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Tim ordered the Cheese and Mentaiko and it was really good. The ones we have here are nothing compared to Gindaco's! There's nothing like the real thing talaga!
Tokyo, Japan
We actually went back a few days later and got two orders of the original takoyaki. Yummmyyyy!!
Tokyo, Japan
Right after, we walked a narrow path filled with cafes and ended up at Pablo!
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The girls looked for a table while the guys did the ordering. They got us coffee and an assortment of mini cheese tarts, and March's limited edition cheese tart - the Strawberry and Pistachio Cheese Tart!
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We also dropped by Lush. We didn't buy anything, I just thought the display looked nice hence this photo. Haha
Tokyo, Japan
Next stop: Hachiko! Our friend Joy really wanted to take a photo with him, so we definitely had to make this stop. As I mentioned in my previous Japan post, the Japanese are very patient people. Would you believe there's actually a line just to have a photo with this statue?
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Just got annoyed with the other foreigners (Europeans, I think) who didn't bother lining up and took so long taking photos. Plus, they even blocked other people's photos by standing behind Hachiko.
Tokyo, Japan
We also crossed the famous Shibuya crossing. It's definitely the busiest crossing we've been to. There are even more people at night! Too bad we weren't able to take a photo from higher up, that would've been cool to see.
Tokyo, Japan
We explored Shibuya a bit more, just walked around and enjoyed the sights. When we got tired, we finally decided it was time to look for dinner. When in Japan? Eat ramen!
Tokyo, Japan
We looked for the nearest Ichiran (thank goodness for Google Maps) and soon found ourselves in a basement of a building with a long line of people waiting to have their ramen fix.
Tokyo, Japan
As with most ramen joints in Japan, you place your orders through a vendo machine and wait for your turn to sit down. Ichiran is quite small, so take what you can get. If you come with a big group, expect that you'll be seated separately, whenever one becomes available.
Tokyo, Japan
At Ichiran, you can choose how you want your ramen - richness, flavor strength, with garlic/green onion, etc.

Tim and I got in first, Denison and Joy followed after when another group left.
Tokyo, Japan
Everyone gets their own cubicle/booth for privacy, but you can always open the side walls for you and your partner. Food is served via the small window in front of you.
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Tim finished his bowl really fast. The guy definitely loves his ramen.
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I took my time, enjoyed the quiet and the privacy (and got a quick photo op in there as well haha)
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Yaay! Second ramen date in Japan!
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On our way home, we stumbled upon a Disney store where I purchased keychains for my mom, my sister, and me. I also saw really cute plushies and character masks there, so make sure to drop by at least one Disney store during your trip!
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That ends our second day in Japan! Watch out for day 3 ;)
P.S. Check out Tokyo Day 1 (Narita Express, Arashi Ramen, 100 Yen Shop) here.
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2 comments:

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  1. What an adventure! And as usual, your photos are all beautiful and the food pics oh so enticing! You got to see the cherry blossoms and eat legit takoyakis! I envy you! Anyway, can I just ask if you've tried the Pablo cheesecakes here? Do they taste the same as the original ones there in Japan? I've been meaning to try those (while I still can't travel to Japan haha) but heard from people who've tried the cheesecakes here that they're just overrated.

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    1. Hi Mariel! Aww, you're too nice! I'm glad you liked the photos! :)

      I actually haven't tried Pablo here, but yeah, a lot of people have said that it's overrated. Still worth trying, but we have BAKE na! That one I really like :)

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