Even after so many days in Tokyo there was still a whole slew of neighbourhoods to check out.
Today we started out in Shibuya to check out one of the busiest cross walks and acclimate myself to some Japanese fashion. Once we got to Shibuya we were pretty much right at the mega intersection. We spent a bit of time taking photos of criss-cross walking and trying to insert ourselves in there as well. After the photo-shoot we walked around to some of the more famous shopping areas including 109 for Men and Women. I found that although some of the fashion was pretty strange and very hipster/emo, there was still some that was wearable by North American standards. Despite this, everything was too expensive to buy. A regular buttoned shirt was costing upwards to 70 or 80 CAD so I came out of Shibuya with nothing. Of course nothing is complete without a visit to a nearby department store and more specifically their food basement. This was probably the most exciting part, picking up some sashimi, gyoza, sticky rice and cake.
Harajuku and Meiji Shrine
From there it was a quick JR stop back down to Harajuku to visit Meiji Shrine. Before heading in, we went to the outdoor refreshment area to rehydrate and eat all of our goods. Of all the shrines/temples I saw in Tokyo, I have to pin this one as my favorite. Despite this one being one of the most well-known and pretty central in the city, I didn’t feel like they place was overloaded with tourists. A part of that is because the area isn’t just composed of the shrine but also a mini-forest almost that surrounds the area.
Since we were in Harajuku, we went back to Takeshita Street to do some proper shopping. Last time we really only got to check out Daiso so this time Chantelle checked out some of the other stores while I tired to snap photos of the lolita girls. I wasn’t too successful though because they never seemed to be around when I was pointing one particular direction. I did spot a lot of them though since it was the weekend and I must say it’s something that you just don’t really get used to. It’s just so…why…?
Shinjuku and the Free Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
After Harajuku, we went around the JR again to Shinjuku to go up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Not sure if too many people know about this one but it’s actually completely free to go up this building and since we had gone up Tokyo Tower in the day I thought it’d be a good idea to check out the night scenery from here. It took us around an hour before we were finally able to get on the elevator up. At the top I soon realized why it was free. The best views of the city are taken by a restaurant. Other than that there are really only three sides of the building that you can take photos from. I tried my best to take some long exposure shots with my camera sitting on the ledge and lens pushed all the way up on the glass. But like what I said about Tokyo Tower, there’s no distinct skyline in Tokyo so you end up with a view of a random collection of buildings sprawling beyond the eye can see. Overall, although it’s free I can’t say I recommend the building if you’re tight on time.
Rapoongi Hills and Gonpachi
Our next destination was Roppongi Hills for dinner but before we even got close we were completely lost in the Shinjuku station trying to find the entrance to the subway we needed to take. It was one of those things where the arrows on the signs above seemed to point one way but when you went that way you’d stop seeing any indication that it was the right way so you turn back. Anyways we must’ve looked completely lost because this Japanese gentleman came up to us and literally asked if we needed help in English. We told him we wanted to go to Roppongi Hills and what subway line we needed to take. At first I thought he’d just tell us which direction to go but he said he had some time so he’d walk us all the way. Along the way he asked us where we were from and he told us that it is actually his hobby to help tourists and that he’s met people from all over the world. Once at the subway entrance we thanked him and we hopped on the next train. People sure are unusually friendly here!
The restaurant in Roppongi Hills was Gonpachi – another recommendation of Ema’s friend. It was quite a walk from the subway station to get there but we made it just in time for our reservation. I had no idea what kind of restaurant this was going to be other than the comment that Akiko made that “a restaurant where president bush visited while he was here. many tourist”. After walking in, seeing pictures of famous personalities and Stephen Harper surprisingly and an article referencing Quentin Tarantino I immediately knew that this must’ve been where they filmed the Japanese restaurant scene in Kill Bill. We later found out that the restaurant was in fact more of an inspiration than the actual set. Minor detail. Anyways the food here was probably second only to the fish market breakfast sushi. It was a mix of izakaya and yakitori but everything was very savoury and full of flavour. We ended up making two extra orders of food just because we wanted it to keep coming.
Our legs were ready to give in so we took the hit and just cabbed back to the Conrad. Back at the hotel Chantelle got busy trying to figure out what the flight loads looked like for various airlines to bring her back to North America on standby. Sparing you from the details, it turned out that the Obon festival going throughout the upcoming week was wreaking havoc on flight loads because everyone was travelling to and from Japan. Everything was oversold and with that no chance for Chantelle to go home tomorrow or even the days after which was the original plan. We looked at every single possible combination out of Narita but nothing. We then changed gears and started looking at fixed fare flights but it was ridiculously expensive. Air Canada was posting $3000+ for a one way fare to Toronto. Chantelle was about to drop the gloves but I kept looking on Kayak and we eventually found a $1500 fare with Korea Air to Toronto. With no real other option we snatched that up. The upside to all of this that she was flying out on the same day I was leaving Japan instead of the next day. I just feel completely at fault for making a flight attendant actually pay for fixed fare ticket. Apparently she’s never had to do this until meeting me. Whoops. Sorry Chantelle!!!
- If you want to go up a free building, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the one you want to go to. I wouldn’t highly recommend it because of limited views and it being an older building but free is free right?
- If there’s one shrine you want to go to in Tokyo, I would recommend Meiji Shrine. My #2 would probably be the one in Asakusa.
- Gonpachi is a must-do restaurant in Tokyo. Make reservations!
- If you want to see Lolita girls in Harajuku make sure you go on the weekend.
- Breakfast at the Conrad Lounge
- JR to Shibuya
- Photos and shopping around Shibuya
- JR to Harajuku
- Meiji Shrine
- Walk around Takeshita Street in Harajuku
- JR to Shinjuku
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Subway to Roppongi Hills
- Dinner at Gonpachi
- Cab back to Conrad Tokyo
If you’re looking to do any travelling around Japan, I highly recommend picking up a JRailPass. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase it before your trip and ship it to your home.
Check out the Next Day
Want to read more? The next day is right here: Day 84 – Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market Attempt #2.
Curious what else I did on my trip to Asia? See the full itinerary and all 89 days.