Day 3, an early rise again. I’m determined to either be out before 7 or after 9:30, outside the hours of sardine schools.
Then I got on the train and saw the empty carriages. It’s the Emperor’s Birthday, a public holiday. Doh!
Half a circuit on the Yamanote and I’m off at Harajuku. Though famous for the colorful fashion, it’s far too early and all is quiet.
I drop in to Doutor for breakfast, the coffee chain found outside JR stations without fail is fast becoming the default nice warm refuge where I can get a hot cup of coffee.
Sandwich breakfast, Doutor
The ginkgo trees here are a stunning gold
Behind the station is the renowned Meiji Shrine.
Meiji shrine entrance
Meiji shrine torii
A worker sweeps the grounds with an extra long broom
The place is large, but to be honest I kind of expected something more grandiose or more transcendental. It’s not sprawling with temple complexes nor are there much statues or lanterns. All in all, pretty plain.
It’s a popular site for hosting traditional marriage ceremonies, however I don’t see much activities today.
Entrance to the shrine complex
Cleanse your hands and mouth before stepping onto sacred grounds
The south gate
The ema stand
I made no offering nor bought any prayers as I intend to do that the next day at Washinomiya.
The exit on the north side is not too far from Shinjuku, or at least it seems on the map. I should have just taken the metro, even if it is a stop away. Once again the wind is cold and seems to be funneled in between the apartment blocks.
The situation did not improve as I nears the vicinity of Shinjuku. Shinjuku and its underground passages is probably the most complex station on earth, while on paper everything is linked, it’s not so simple finding the connecting passages. It’s either be lost down below or freeze above.
A cake shop in one of the underground malls
It took some walking around to finally get my bearings, after more walking and a coffee break, I find one of my goals at Shinjuku.
Sanrio gift gate
I rush in hoping to find shelves full of plushes of the curly tailed puppy…
…they only have 1 Cinnamoroll, and an ugly one at that 🙁 that Melody bunny, it’s taken over all the cuteness. It’s so hard to find Cinnamoroll these days.
The Animate at Shinjuku is pasted with K-On
"Ahahaha-ha, ready to hand over your wallets, Sempai!"... that's all I'm hearing, Azunyan
Tokyo City Hall building
A train of santa/santass? Doing promotions.
A poor reindeer hauling the sleigh (cart) of goods
Time to have lunch… ramen I am meant to have is closed for renovation *cries* so I’ll learn over the next few days, end of years is kinda when small Japanese restaurants have their annual holiday.
I enter the Shinjuku underground once more to avoid the cold while I look for a solution to my lunch.
Ehhh.. where am I?
Once again I’m lost… yaaaay. While I stumble through the endless maze of dimension-defying tunnels and shops, I run across a takoyaki stall.
A long line for takoyaki.. well, a line = tasty, right? right?
I join the line for a takoyaki. Taking the opportunity, I intently studies the guy deftly turn the takoyakis with a pair of sharp skewers.
Turns out they aren’t pre-rolled up into a ball then fried, but made similar to taiyaki. Actually that makes sense thinking now.
Ah, so that's how they're made. That's crazy.
Flip flip flip. Pancake into tako balls
Awesome, I haz takoyaki, nyom nyom nyom. Still lost though. But hey, at least I got food.
Yum. To be honest I’ve never had proper takoyaki before so I’m not sure if this is proper takoyaki. It’s a little hollow on the inside, verdict undecided whether that adds or detracts from the texture.
In Sydney, Krispy Kreme needs to give free vouchers to get people in their door. In Japan, people line up for it.
Almost night time
Shinjuku Terrace City
Still queuing up. Eh... maybe they got special donuts? I'll find out next time.
Power of Light and Sound
Xmas in Japan is a special occasion for couples, almost like valentines in winter. Most of the illuminations have these of love and romance, drawing in huge crowd (and lines) of young couples. Terrace City has an Xmas tree pyramid that plays a sound and turns to various colors which divines and blesses the couple.
Chart indicating the various color of power
It's a long line. Not as long as some other lines... I get to that eventually
The Takashima deparment store on the other side has lit up its exterior panels in the shape of a tree
Southern Lights is the theme for Southern Terrace this year
Terrace city is a strip of department store and shopping complexes on the west side of Shinjuku, together they form a passageway that is filled with lights.
One of the illuminations at Terrace City
A narrow passage way connecting the terraces called the Mosaic Street.
A cone like Xmas tree at the end of the passage.
Entrace to Terrace City
A singer performing nearby, her voice is soft and charming.
I do not understand the pattern here.
After traversing the length of Terrace City, it’s time to hop back onto Yamanote and down to Harajuku, then walk to Omotesando.
It's a real Xmas Coke truck!
Omotesando is a pretty stylish shopping area, not lavish high class, but more classy I felt.
A ginkgo tree with thick foliage that serves nicely for the occassion.
The streets of Omotesando
A nice trendy alleyway.
The destination is Omotesando Hills, one of the craziest department interior designs I’ve seen. Their theme is partnered with Disney. In addition to various Disney special collection items which you can collect when you shop here, the highlight is a fantastic horse drawn carriage. Once again, aimed exclusively at couples.
A romantic horse drawn carriage.
...and that's the line. Still not the longest though...I'll get to that eventually.
Inside, I’m greeted by carols, beautifully sung by a choir beneath a giant crystal tree.
Omotesando Hills Xmas tree
Crowd lines the railings on every level.
Omotesando Hills Xmas tree
Omotesando Hills interior
Notices yet? There are no strict levels. The entire department store is a loop of ramp.
On the way back, I take a detour through one of the side streets.
Side alley in Omotesando
The street is decorated with lanterns
Staircase leading up to a restaurant
For more see the Day 3 gallery