Our first full day in Japan was to be spent on a tour to Mount Fuji. We all arrived at our pickup point that morning ready to go. But after waiting for a really long time, we decided we had better call. We had missed the bus! Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding about the pickup time, and we would have to do it on another day. All of the other days were booked solid — except for Wednesday, our last day in the country. We crossed our fingers and hoped that we’d get a spot on that tour. As it turns out, we did.
As often happens when traveling, we needed to readjust our schedule. No worries! We decided to make our way over to Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s most popular districts. It might be better known for featuring one of the world’s most crowded street crossings.
It didn’t seem super crowded when we were waiting to cross the street, but once the light changed, large crowds from every corner of the intersection invaded the open space. It’s one of Tokyo’s cool experiences. There’s a lot of shopping and nightlife here, too.
Harajuku was next on our list. In my recent visits to Tokyo, I’ve found this area to be quite diverse ethnically — and very touristy. Fashion of all kinds can be found here, and so can crepes. That was a bit of a surprise, but there are several crepe stalls competing for business, and a couple of them are mere feet from each other.
If you arrive here from Harajuku Station, you can walk down the entire street, take a right onto the major roadway, and end up in the Omotesando shopping area. There are many high-end stores here, and it’s a popular spot for trying the latest “whatever.” During my visit last year, there was a huge line stretching down the street just to try the newly-opened Ben & Jerry’s. This year, it was a different type of food place, but the line, again, was huge. The sidewalks are also flooded with people.
One of my favorite restaurants is here: Maisen. Their specialty is tonkatsu (fried pork). It had been a decade since I had eaten here, but that experience was such a great one that I had always planned to get back again. I rarely miss an opportunity to eat some high quality tonkatsu.
From here, we made our way toward Tokyo Tower. But as often happens with travel, we discovered another interesting site before we got there. Zojoji Temple sits very near the base of Tokyo Tower, and because it was almost closing time, we decided to explore it a bit before the gates were shut.
Tokyo Tower was just a short walk up the hill from there. I’ve been inside the tower several times now, but the views never get old. That’s why it remains one of the city’s popular tourist sites. However, this time I did something that I had not done on previous visits. Some of us decided to wait until nightfall so we could see the city lit up in all of its electric glory. It was a good decision.
It wasn’t until we left that we noticed the large “2020” display on the lower observation deck. Tokyo is a candidate city to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Even after starting off with a major change of plans, our first full day in Tokyo was really terrific. The following day was officially “schedule free” for our group, but unofficially, it was Disney day. You’ll see that on the next post.