Tokyo through the Looking Glass – Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku

 “Alice:How long is forever? White Rabbit:Sometimes, just one second.” 

This line from Alice in Wonderland greatly defines how I saw Tokyo for the first time. I don’t think there is any other place that has captured me in one second, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it either.
My first trip to Tokyo was in Summer of 2014 with my mom and Kyla. We were in Tokyo for 7 days and stayed at Sheraton Miyako Hotel in Minato area. Our room was upgraded from a Superior to a Deluxe Room and it was quite big as compared to the sizes of rooms in Tokyo. We took a limousine bus from Narita International airport as it stops directly in Sheraton. The fare was 3000 Yen per person. The hotel also has a shuttle bus which drops you to train stations near the hotel. We were always on the go, leaving the hotel between 9-10am and coming back at around 10-11pm. I recommend staying in Tokyo for a minimum of 4 days and it all depends what you would like to see and do. There is a lot more to see during Spring and Autumn.

I was a solo traveller when I went back to Tokyo and it was autumn so the vibe was completely different. I felt like I was Alice again, curiouser and curiouser (one of her famous lines…the word curiouser is technically not a real word). It was like I fell into the rabbit hole again not knowing what to expect.

I will introduce to you 3 of the most visited places in Tokyo – Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinkuku. These 3 are one station away from each other.

The most accessible way to see Tokyo is through Trains. You can purchase an all day pass at the train station counter or online. If you have the JR Pass, you can also use it. Taxi is expensive in Japan. Maybe 10x more than Seoul. You can take a taxi if you are travelling with a group so you can share the taxi the fare but you will miss a lot of happenings as there are so many characters to see in a train station. Remember that the best view that you will see in Japan are the PEOPLE! 

What a strange world we live in…said Alice to the Queen of hearts” 

In Tokyo, You will see people you only see in books!

 ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad and you’re mad and that speaks to me very strongly – Mad Hatter

Let’s discover everything that’s mad about Tokyo 

  1. Probably the first place you would like to see in Tokyo is the famous Shibuya Crossing. Perhaps no one else says ‘Welcome to Tokyo’ better than this. You can catch a full view of the crossing from  Starbucks in Tsutaya.

How I wish our Girl Scout uniform looks like this! Japanese schools have the best uniform!

I was looking for her companion as I would like to take a photo with her but I realized she was alone. I followed her and to my surprise, she headed to the train station and rode the train alone! That’s how safe Japan is. Japan practices group reliance,  any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others. I have seen groups of 3-5 students taking public transportation by themselves but this is the first time I saw someone taking the train by herself.

The calm before the storm. Thousands of people pass here everyday.

On the right is 109 Shopping Mall where you can find the latest Japan fashion for women.

Which one is the mannequin?

109 Men’s

When I travelled with my mom and Kyla, we went to Parco to have coffee in My Melody Cafe. We waited in line for 2 hours! A long line outside a restaurant is common in Japan.

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My Melody is still alive even after I finished my latte

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A lot of cute things can be found in Parco like this Yukata

More of Shibuya

You can order your Ramen in a vendo machine! You can find lots of these all around Tokyo!

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This is the way to the Shibuya Train Station. On the right is where you can find Hachiko! I was in Starbucks when I took this shot.

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Hachiko

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One train stop away is the Harajuku Station where you can find Meiji Jingu, one of Tokyo’s major shrines, Yoyogi Park and Takeshita Street

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If you are standing below the clock, the Meiji Jingu Shrine is in your right.

Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) is a Shinto Shrine  dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji was a popular emperor who reigned from 1867 to 1912.

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“Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage,” Exactly what I was thinking while walking alone here. This is so majestic to my eyes. Make sure you are not wearing heels as it will be a long walk to the shrine.

Believe me, I have more than 10 photos of Japanese kids doing this… in different locations!

So lucky I went the same time parents were bringing their kids to their coming-of-age ceremony. The kid was looking at me the whole time.

 

a Japanese Traditional wedding

and another wedding…I took a quick photo of them organizing themselves for a formal family portrait.

Sisters

Brothers

Before I took this photo, the Grandpa was fixing the shoes of the little boy. So sweet!

Cute Family Moments

Messages in different languages

My prayer

Feels like an anime movie and a samurai master will appear out of nowhere

I went out the same way I came in to go to Takeshita Street. It is located just across Harajuku Station.

The teenage culture is very evident in this street where you can find teenagers dressed in the most unique fashion. The street and the side streets are filled with trendy fashion stores, accessories, crepe stands and cafes.

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yes, that’s me

Spot the Difference

LOL

I am not sure who she is.

Across Takeshita Street is Harajuku street where you can find more fashion stores and restaurants.

In 2014, we ate in this tiny Ramen Restaurant called Jingu in the side street of Harajuku. Their ramen was the best!

Their Tsukamen Ramen is to die for!

Can someone please explain this haha

When I came back to Harajuku, I tried this seafood pasta with a Japanese twist in a restaurant called Goemon.

The pasta came with softdrinks and this yummy brownie with matcha ice cream

I stayed in Shinjuku Washington Hotel when I travelled alone to Tokyo. They gave me twin beds lol

Autumn trees view from my room

Shinjuku is a major business hub in Tokyo

Lumine 1 is one of the entrances to Shinjuku Station. People are on their way to work!

The JR Shinjuku Station serves as the main connecting hub for rail traffic between Tokyo’s special wards and Western Tokyo on inter-city railcommuter rail, and subway lines. Shinjuku Station is by far, the world’s busiest transport hub. Over 2 million people pass this station every single day. The station itself has 36 platforms, including an underground arcade, above ground arcade and numerous hallways. There are well over 200 exits. Another 17 platforms (51 total) can be accessed through hallways to 5 directly connected stations without surfacing outside. It took me more than an hour to find my exit so make sure you get a guide in the information counter. If you are going to Mt Fuji, you can ride a bus in this station.

Construction was going on

Just a short walk from Shinjuku West Exit is the Love sign. It is located outside I-land Tower. I am not sure what my mom is trying to project haha

Also just a short 10 minute walk from Shinjuku Station West Exit is theMetropolitan Government Building Observation Deck where you can see a full view of Tokyo. You can also take the subway to Tocho mae station. Admission is free.

You can try your luck and catch a view of Mt Fuji here during daytime

Train Stations are so much better with…Matsumoto Jun!! so handsome!!! He is the Jerry Yan and Lee Min Ho of Japan.

Do you know that the Meteor Garden and Boys Over Flowers Story is from Japan which is Hana Yori Dango. Matsumoto Jun played the role of Tsukasa Doumyouji, the leader of F4.

I fell in love with him in the movie, A Girl in a Sunny Place, a fantasy romance movie. He starred with my favorite Japanese actress Ueno Juri. Watch this!

When it comes to food, I wouldn’t want to recommend any as for me, everything is good! I love Japanese food so much. But then, we ate Korean food lol

Access:

Shibuya Station is one of Tokyo’s busiest stations. It is served by the JR Yamanote LineJR Saikyo LineJR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Hanzomon Subway Line, Ginza Subway Line, Fukutoshin Subway Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Den-Entoshi Line, Keio Inokashira Line and the Narita Express.

Harajuku Station is a station on the JR Yamanote Line, two stations south of Shinjuku and one station north of Shibuya (140 yen from either station). Only a short walk from Harajuku Station is the subway station Meijijingu-mae Station, which is served by the Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Subway Lines. At the eastern end of Omotesando is Omotesando Station, which is served by the Chiyoda, Ginza and Hanzomon Subway Lines.

Shinjuku Station is Japan’s busiest railway station, served by about a dozen railway lines, including the JR Yamanote Line.

From Tokyo Station

The frequently departing, orange trains on the JR Chuo Line (Rapid Service) take less than 15 minutes and cost 200 yen from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station.

From Ueno Station

By JR Yamanote Line it takes 25 minutes and costs 200 yen to get from Ueno to Shinjuku. A slightly faster alternative is to take the JR Yamanote or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line from Ueno to Kanda Station, and then the JR Chuo Line from Kanda to Shinjuku.

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