A Rainy Half Day in Harajuku and Shibuya
Is it really a trip to Tokyo if you don't visit Harajuku and Shibuya?
It has been almost a year since my first Tokyo trip, and it feels like yesterday. I worked tirelessly to plan my visit so that I didn't miss a thing, but of course I now have a mile-long list of places I need to stop by on my next time around.
I was staying in an AirBnb in Shinjuku, and woke at the crack of dawn to get to the Meiji Temple in Harajuku before the crowds. As a result, I accidentally found myself in the middle of the famous Tokyo subway's Monday morning rush hour. The polite station masters helping the last person wedge into the train car is real. I was lucky and found a good spot by the door where I was able to keep a little bubble of personal space, but I won't tempt fate again.
Once I got off at Harajuku Station, I found my surroundings to be a sharp contrast to the bustle of the train. It was quiet, wide open, and bright green.
I wish I had had more time in Tokyo for a lot of reasons, but one of the main things is I didn't spend enough time in Yoyogi Park. Even though it was February, I wish I had the time to explore this massive park, home to the Meiji Shrine.
The shrine was still waking up with only a few visitors, and I was able to see a few monks dashing around, always barely in sight.
After exploring the shrine, I headed back into the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. As it was still early morning, I first headed for a cafe to let Harajuku get busy and colorful before I visited.
I walked to Shibuya to visit the famous Streamer Coffee Co, home of the most amazing latte I have every had in my life.
This is the military latte. A mix of chocolate, white chocolate, green tea, steamed milk, and espresso. It tasted like heaven.
There were only two other people in the cafe, so I grabbed a seat on the couch and read a book, fully absorbing the great coffee and atmosphere. Around 10am the place started to buzz, with a mix of regulars and tourists stopping in and grabbing their morning caffiene.
Taking my last gulp, I headed back out towards Shibuya to grab myself some more sugar.
Number Sugar is a candy shop that specializes in one thing: caramel.
The store was gorgeous and the women working there were incredibly helpful and kind. I talked myself out of buying a huge assortment box and decided to make a small assortment of my own. They have all different kinds of caramel, differentiated by their number.
I bought three: Almond, Sea Salt, and Vanilla (No. 8, No. 7, and No. 2)
Even though I spent a total of $3 in the store, they treated me like the most important person in the store (granted, I was the only person in the store at the time...)
I broke open my first caramel the second I got on the street and headed even closer to Harajuku. That is, until I stopped in Kiddy Land. This was not on the agenda, but wandering the multiple story building filled with Studio Ghibili covered everything was a good choice.
I walked away with my now-favorite Spirited Away mug.
Walking around Takeshita Street was as fun as everyone says. The people watching was amazing, the stores were packed with everything imaginable and blasting music from all sides.
With my tummy full of caramel and latte, I didn't have enough room for a crepe, but it seemed like every other store front was tempting me to get one.
One of my favorite stops was Kinji Used Clothing, a used clothing/thrift store in the basement of a large building off of Takeshita Street. From grandma sweaters to awesome jackets and skirts, this is a great place to grab a unique souvenir. I always make a point to grab a piece of clothing from a thrift store no matter where I am, and this was no different!
The shopping and walking finally made me hungry for lunch, so I stopped into Koi Taco, a takoyaki place in the heart of Harajuku. (edit: it is now closed, but there are many takoyaki option in this area!)
The walls were covered in scribbles and you were encouraged to write all over the store if you pleased. The tables were about half full around lunch time, and there was only a short line.
I opted for the Kimchi Takoyaki, but was not ready for the secret ingredient...
Yes, that is golden glitter on my takoyaki.
Its hard to see, but it is there. The cashier told me that it was to make it extra delicious, as she sprinkled a generous helping on. Certainly unexpected, but its hard to make takoyaki taste bad - glitter or no glitter.
After eating, I slowly walked up towards Shinjuku to explore the gardens, but that's another story. There is definitely more to do in Harajuku and Shibuya, but if you're only going to have half a day, I highly suggest going this route. Perhaps, instead of heading up to Shinjuku like I did, you could then head down to Shibuya Crossing.