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Tokyo Tour

You like to walk around, get the real vibe of the city.
You have money to spend but hate tourist traps.
You've got 1 day in Tokyo… Where should you go?

After half-year of visitors (believe me, since we moved to Japan, all our friends have been surfing our coach as if Japan was going to be blown our of the map in 2013) here's the perfect Sunday (or Saturday) walk, through which you will get all the sides of Japan:
- Shibuya, the buzzling heart of Tokyo
- Harajuku, the root of all edgy fashion trends
- Yoyogi, the vibe of the real city life (and dogs)
- Meiji-Jingu, the peaceful temple
- Shinjuku, the crazy station, the skyscrapers, the bright neon light.
- Ebisu, the laid back izakayas
- Roppongi, the expat night

Start-off early at Ebisu West Exit (JR) and head west, to Daikanyama T-Site. Enjoy a lovely breakfast in The Ivy Place and see if you manage to find the entrance to the street that runs on the West of the JR tracks. Filled with magic like this.

Pass the guitar district in the boundary between Shibuya and Daikanyama, hit Shibuya on the South-West.

Continue along Shibuya station.

Shibuya, that's right.

Take the occassional shot with Hachiko statue, before getting crazy at the crossing.

Even early in the morning, it's packed.

Walk North-West, to Shibuya 109 here's where all the teen girls get updated "looks" available on "one-size-only".

Easy to identify, girls will look more or less like, as you come closer.

Cross the neighborhood from West to East, head North until you hit Miyashita Park in Meiji-Dori. Use the Diesel Store at the bottom of Cocotti shopping mall as reference. Cross and continue along Meiji-Dori, until a street filled with tiny little stores opens up in your right.

That's the Harajuku Cat Street, right where you wanna come.

The street is packed with stores worth having a look (i.e. Burton, United Arrows, TOMS, RAGTAG) and cute little eateries. It ends in Omotesando Dori, the Champs Elysèes of Tokyo.

But we are on the cheap side… So we will focus on the fun things, like Kiddy Land! As you come out of Cat Street, turn left and continue along Omotesando Dori (we will soon reach Meiji-Jingu, Yoyogi and the crazy takeshita Dori).

When the mass of kids starts to scare you, you know that's where Kiddy Land is.

Huge Rilakkuma making some advertising...

… lots and lots of Rilakkuma fans. Still can't tell what impresses me most.

Once that's over, cross Meiji-Dori again and continue towards Yoyogi (the big park in your map).

On your right, at the crossing, it is Tokyo Plaza Omotesando. A newly opened shopping center featuring the most impressive escalator I ever saw. Geometric mirrors framing edgy fashion, available at THE SHEL'TTER in the 1F. Just in front, there's LaForet (the white building on the northern side) is also a huge shopping hotspot for latest on edgy items - streetstyle spotting is certainly worth some time.

But we are on free mode, right? So keep on walking, cross the elevated pass and finally reach Meiji Jingu. Go under the huge wooden Tori (yep, looks like TT and it's sacred).

People will maybe wear kimonos - as they are heading to weddings or funerals - just follow them until you reach the barrels of sake (on the right) and wine (on the left) that represent Japan opening up to Western influences under the Meiji Emperor Rule.

Always a nice photo-op.

During this weekend, in parallel to the 七五三 (7·5·3) Festival, that celebrates the kids on odd ages, there was a beautiful ikebana exhibition along the way (100% free).

Cross the last Tori (but make sure to rinse your mouth and hands first, as everyone else is doing, on the left) and you made it to the main shrine!


To the right, Shinto Brides are getting ready for the picture so make sure to check. You may get a glimpse of the most beautiful view of a Japanese Lady (extremely heavy and complex to move in, a bride kimono is ridiculously expensive too) which is not so common in these days.

The Temple offers a blend of tourists & locals, of high & low, of tradition & modernity that captures the essence of Tokyo in a really nice way.





Sacred rope, sacred papers. The Yokozuna (Sumo Champion) wears a belt which reproduces this rope.

Traditional beauty has no age.


Time to move on to next: Yoyogi Park. Take the exit on your right (as you face the main temple) and walk back to Meiji-Jingu entrance (yep, the massive Tori and all the pebbled track). Then continue around the next corner, where everyone seems to be going.

Take the outer loop and walk along all runners, kids and teens dancing. Peep at the families enjoying picnic and the musicians getting skilled on their free art. All that, until you hit the dog run.

Even if you aren't fond of dog, it's a hell lot of fun. Dogs in Tokyo often wear complicated apparel, probably more expensive than many things I own. They are carried in small carts - as if they were babies - and pampered in hair salons according to the hotest styles proposed by specific "poodle hair" magazines. Really unique, very Tokyo thing.

Once you feel is time to move on, just go back on your steps. To the entrance of Meiji Jingu. This time, take the street that runs along the train tracks and follow everyone until the hottest place in town for teens, Takeshita Dori.

The entrance clearly indicates what's all about.

Once during Golden Week it got so packed that it was closed, to the public.

Calm your hunger with a Harajuku Crêpe (preferably those that feature a piece of cake inside).

Buy some fake eyelashes, just to blend in.

Accesorize for 315 JPY at Paris Kids.

When you're sick of shouting & buying, jump on JR Yamanote and get off at Shinjuku.

Depending on the timing, you could visit Shinjuku Gyoen which has a Central Park vibe and is great place to visit year round, from [WINTER] to [SPRING].

Or just take Shinjuku West Exit and walk to the Tokyo Metropolitan Towers, where a free observatory will treat you with all you expected since Lost in Translation (all free, as a contrast with the over estimated Park Hyatt bar).


Cocoon Building <3 a="a" and="and" around="around" back="back" come="come" cross="cross" down="down" get="get" i="i" now="now" shinjuku="shinjuku" station.="station." to="to" walk="walk">the other side. Where crazy shoppers meet around Lumine and gay crowd head to the Shinjuku 二丁目 area. There is a red light district and an old bar one (Golden Gai) which you may want to dig deeper into… Unless you got dinner plans.

The neon lights bring you back to JR Yamanote. Where the train brings you to the izakaya spot: Ebisu and the nomihodai (free drinking during 2h + food) that gives the perfect entrance to the party you are craving for…. In Roppongi.

So we got in our dancing shoes… Took many shots and stroke a pose.

Just to get a bit hungry for the dinner to come ^_^

Ebisu West (恵比寿西) is packed with good eateries, see the very many spots in the MAP to get a feeling of the overwhelming amount. If you are out for party (and not really willing to spend a lot of money on beer at 700 JPY/each) I recommend that you pick a spot with all-you-can-drink, which in Japanese is nomihōdai (飲み放題) or all-you-can-drink-plus-set-menu in Japanese tabehōdai (食べ放題).

Personal favourites are Jackpot which features great sallads and expat scene; Bomb which is a great introduction to the Korean food and Onayasai which is perfect for shabu-shabu and free drinks during 2 hours (pick the option that offers beef&pork 4000JPY with all-you-can-eat-and-drink). The wine is also quite good (considering the crappy reds which are served around) - I can compare as red wine is the only thing I ever drink.

It's fun to cook yourself!! There are different flavours to choose among for the base of the shabu-shabu. Then, just pour in veggies, noodles and whatever you pick in the menu.

Chicken meatballs!


Full chicks.

Cabs will be waiting for you outside, so head to Roppongi and try Vanity, Muse, R2 or Feria. In Omotesando, TwoRooms, Le Baron or Velours are lounge clubs worth checking if you are not really up for dancing.

So what to say about our party? We went out, but DANCING WAS NOT ALLOWED! I am not kidding. There were letters all over the entrance to Muse and a security guard told me to STOP MOVING. Can't believe? 

Check this one out to understand how the regulations against prostitution ended up so weirdly:
"Under the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Business (known as fueiho in Japanese, a contraction of fueiho eigyo-to no kisei oyobi gyomu no tekiseika-to ni kansuru horitsu), any establishment that permits dancing must obtain a license. This in turn imposes a number of requirements, the most significant of which are size – the main room must have at least 66m2 of unobstructed floor space – and opening hours: depending where it's located, a club must close by either midnight or 1am"


http://abebedorespgondufo.blogs.sapo.pt/ said...

Very good.

Clau said...

Guess you'll have plenty of beer in any nomihoodai!

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